This ability to vary the design from one house to the next was possible because Collins had his own experienced work force and was able to change his design quickly to suit a particular site. The firm had a number of different designs for larger and smaller houses, single-fronted and double-fronted, two and three storey, with cellars in the centre, on one side, or across the house. On these he could play any number of variations. Almost all the design elements for the complete estate can be seen in the first few houses which he had built at the top of Collingwood Avenue by 1901, but he continued to play tricks with these for the next ten years
The house fronts are in a warm red brick, with many of the rear elevations in a colder white gault. Where houses turn corners, as at the. road junctions along Grand Avenue, the entrance doors are in the side road, with the red brick carried round to spread the warmth.
1900 was a period of very cheap softwoods. Wonderful pine in wide boards, completely clear of knots, was flooding into the country from the Baltic and Russia. The Thames and Lee were full of boats bringing timber at prices which today would appear absurd. Cheap timber encouraged joiners to show off their skills. Elaborate porches with turned and fretted decoration abound in a multitude of designs. Six of this and four of that, the patterns change as you walk down the street. White paint links the houses together, while the varied designs give continual interest. For any householder to paint in any other colour would spoil the effect completely, so public opinion has now made the estate into a Conservation Area, which will act as a restraint.