Explanation of house and property types

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Image of a couple outside a house.

Do you know a terrace from a semi-detached house, a flat from a maisonette? We take the guesswork out of it by explaining the key differences between different types of property and consider the pros and cons.

What is a terraced house?

A row of attached properties are terraced houses because they share common walls with the neighbours.

They’re common in the UK, especially in urban areas, as terraced construction saves a lot of space.

One of the main advantages of terraced houses is that the space saving means they can occupy urban areas where land is at a premium which also makes them more affordable.

The disadvantage of having houses shoulder-to-shoulder is that you often sacrifice privacy. Some terraces may also have little garden space, although it’s also common for some urban terraces to have deceptively long back gardens. And some terraces have no front garden or yard space, being flush to the street. This makes these properties more exposed to passing traffic and pedestrians.

While the cost of terraced houses varies depending on numerous factors – particularly location – they’re usually the cheapest type of house to buy on average.

In March 2021, the average terraced house in England cost £226,369[1]. In London, the average was £541,889 compared to £145,457 in Wales.

What is a mid-terrace house?

A mid-terrace is the house in the middle of a row of similar houses. As such, a mid-terrace house share a common wall with the neighbours on both sides.

What is an end-of-terrace house?

The end-of-terrace house (or end-terrace) is at the end of a row of joined properties. This means it only shares one common wall with a neighbour.

You’ll usually find these at the end of a street or cul-de-sac.

They’re only joined to one other property, so they tend to be a little more expensive than the other houses in the same terrace. They may also have a larger garden, depending on the design.

What is a semi-detached house?

Semi-detached houses (often referred to as ‘semis’) are the most common type of property in the UK. These are two properties linked to each other with a common wall. Semi-detached houses usually have a mirrored layout.

A big advantage of living in a semi – especially compared to a mid-terrace – is that there’s usually more privacy, plus sharing only one common wall with neighbours is likely to reduce the amount of noise you can hear.

They’re also much more affordable than fully detached houses, on average. In March 2021, the average price of a semi in England was £259,186 (going up to £628,401 in London), and in Wales it was £178,631.

What is a detached house?

Detached houses, as the name suggests, aren’t connected to any other buildings. These are standalone structures, and often have both a front and a back garden.

One of the main advantages is that this type of property is usually more private, meaning that, when undergoing work such as home improvements, having to consider the neighbours is often not an issue.

However, standalone living usually comes at a cost. Detached houses are more expensive than terraced and semi-detached houses on average.

In March 2021, the average detached house in England would set you back £423,450 – or a cool £966,217 if the house is in London. In Wales, this drops to £283,155.

What is a link detached house?

A link detached house doesn’t share any common walls with another house or property, but it’s linked to another property – normally via a garage. So, both properties will have some foundations in common.

There are certain advantages to living in a link detached house. You’re less likely to be affected by any noise your neighbour makes than you would in a semi.

However, if one of you plans to build an extension above the garage, it requires the neighbour’s permission, and construction should be in accordance with the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

The same can happen if you share a driveway as neighbours may not agree on plans like building gates. Property value is a consideration here, as the neighbour giving up the driveway is likely to see their house price drop. As such, when working out a price, it’s important to work out a cost which is fair for both homes.

What is a bungalow?

A bungalow is a single-storey property which is ordinarily detached from other properties but are smaller than the average detached house. In 2021, the average bungalow in the UK cost £335,419, according to Rightmove[2].

It’s also possible to get chalet bungalows (also known as dormer bungalows), which have dormer extensions in the roof. These effectively make the property a storey and a half high.

What is a cottage?

A cottage is hard to define. While most of us can easily visualise one – thatched rooves, casement windows, low ceilings - they have changed numerous times through history.

Today, the term refers to a small house, usually found in the country. For many, they are the pinnacle of a dream home.

Read more: Home insurance for thatched houses

Their appeal as a holiday home investment has inflated costs meaning the asking price can be high. For example, an overgrown, abandoned cottage in Reading made headlines when it sold for £812,000 in 2022.

What is a mansion?

The definition of a mansion is debatable.

A lot of it depends on where you are. The dimensions and characteristics of a mansion in Los Angeles will be larger than one in Cardiff, for example.

As a rule of thumb, a mansion is roughly 5,000 square feet, though in some places, it can be up to 8,000. The housing market in an area can influence the definition and how real estate professionals market the property.

In general, mansions are very large properties with many rooms, a large garden and often a pool or other eye-catching features. They’re the most expensive houses around, as well as one of the rarest available. 

What is a flat?

Flats (or apartments) are separate, self-contained properties in one building. Each flat has its own address and front door, but generally shares a corridor.

The two main types of flats are purpose-built, such as with blocks of flats, and existing residential properties which have been divided up into flat.

One of the main advantages of flats is they’re usually more affordable to buy or rent than entire houses.

In the case of tenants, people were often able to rent in locations where buying a property wouldn’t be affordable. However, more recently, there has been a trend of rental prices outstripping would-be tenants’ budgets.

The downside of flats is the lack of privacy. This can be problematic when it comes to noise carrying between floors, for instance. There are more things to consider when buying a flat too.

In March 2021, the average flat or maisonette in England would cost you £235,439 – or £425,304 in London. In Wales, the average cost of a flat or maisonette was £119,432.

What’s the difference between a flat and an apartment?

You may know “flat” as the British variant and “apartment” as the American. However, there are structural differences between flats and apartments.

A flat is usually found across one floor. An apartment, however, can span across multiple floors, and can sometimes be used to describe a more upmarket, higher-quality flat.

What is a maisonette?

A maisonette – French for ‘small house’ – is like a flat because it’s one of multiple properties in a building. However, it has a separate entrance rather than a shared main entrance and separate front door.

A maisonette can be a single storey or split over a few levels, and it also has its own address.

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