Windows and glazed doors open your home to views and light, providing ventilation and access while also playing an important role in protecting it from the elements.
Much more so than when moving into an older house, a new build allows you to steer the choice of windows and doors. Carefully consider their placement and function: you may want to take advantage of surrounding views, maximise indoor–outdoor flow, let in light and air, or maintain privacy. Safety (of occupants) and security are important factors, too.
As mechanical elements that can undergo heavy daily usage, the windows and glazed doors you choose need to be durable and strong, and designed to withstand the range of environmental conditions likely to be encountered on your site, such as high wind or sun exposure. Now that the New Zealand Building Code requires all new residential construction to meet certain standards in energy performance, windows and doors also need to be energy efficient.
To help ensure you choose windows or glazed doors suitable for New Zealand conditions, look for this NZS 4211 label. It’s proof that your purchase has been rigorously tested for a range of performance criteria, including air leakage, water leakage and wind resistance.
The New Zealand Building Code requires all window manufacturers to label every window and door unit they make, so if your purchase does not have this label, it may not be compliant. On windows, the label should be in the cavity just below the left-hand-side stay. On doors, you’ll find it on the jamb, immediately below the top hinge.
The windows you choose can instantly transform your home’s look and feel – taking it from modern to traditional or vice versa. This guide introduces some of the most common styles used in New Zealand. Each can be made with a variety of framing materials, including aluminium, timber and uPVC.
Hinged at the top (awning) or on the side like a door (casement), these windows offer privacy while letting in light and air. You can often secure them partially or fully open, for convenience, safety and security. Casement windows are popular in both modern homes and older-style bungalows; awning windows, with friction stays, were common in 1960s–70s homes. When securing either awnings or casements open in high wind zones, robust stays are essential.
Bay windows create extra space in a room by extending out from the external wall of a building. The area beneath them is often used for a window seat or storage.
Folding back to open up a wide expanse of uninterrupted views and light, bifold windows bring the outside – and plenty of fresh air – in.
Common in New Zealand villas and homes up to the 1920s, double-hung windows have two separate sliding pieces called sashes that move vertically to open or close the window. Older versions typically have a concealed counterweight mechanism with ropes and pulleys.
Louvre windows – usually small, and typically operated with a lever – can offer the convenience of ventilation in a constrained space or where direct access is difficult, such as clerestory windows. Cleaning them can be fiddly.
Like a real-life widescreen TV, these windows don’t slide or open but are made for enjoying views and light in any weather.
Bringing extra natural light from above, these windows are often found in areas of the home that would otherwise rely on artificial light. They may or may not have an opening mechanism.
Like sliding doors, these windows open by gliding along a track, and are popular in modern homes where space is limited or for indoor–outdoor flow above decks or out into gardens.
Like bifold windows, these can be pushed back to open up the wall of a room. They are ideal for opening onto a deck or patio, providing seamless indoor–outdoor flow.
With glass panels that welcome views and light, hinged French doors (aka French windows) are often found at the entrance to a home, or to connect out onto balconies and decks. Double doors maximise ventilation, access and light. As with casement windows, when using them in high wind conditions, robust stays are essential.
Sliding and stacking doors offer flexibility – opening up completely for indoor–outdoor flow when the weather’s good, or staying partially closed if more protection is needed. While a sliding door opens up half of the total glazed area, a stacking door can open up two-thirds (or more). Either way, they are economical with space.
Combining beauty and function, glass showers create a sense of spaciousness and light that enhances everything from compact ensuites to larger bathrooms. Options range from a glass pane screening off the bath, to a frameless or framed cubicle –with glass that is clear, tinted, textured or frosted for privacy. Safety glass (conforming to NZS 4223.3) is essential.