Types of Houses in the UK

Advantages and Disadvantages

More and more land in the UK is being converted to urban areas. In England alone, about 7,000 hectares of farmland was converted to urban areas on a yearly basis from the year 1985 to 1998. Today about 2/3 of England own their own homes or about to buy their own homes. For the rest if UK, renting seems to be the option for the basic pay of a common employee cannot catch up with the rising cost of buying a house.  The average salary in the UK today is £24,000 while the average house cost about £224,000 and is still rising. Most individuals rent their homes from private landlords or from the local council or from a housing association.

There are many types of houses all over the world. Whatever their styles are, the type still boils down to four categories. There are four basic types of housing in the UK. There is the detached, the semi-detached, the terraced and the flats. 

Single-detached House

A detached house is a single free standing residential unit built on a lot.  The lot is larger than the house for an area for a yard or a garden.  The detached house can either have a built-in garage or a detached one. It must be understood that a detached house can take on any form or style. It does not matter if the house is a bungalow or a cottage or a mansion. It also does not matter if the house is Victorian or Tudor or Minimalist. As long as no walls of the structure are connected to another dwelling, the house remains to be a detached house.

One advantage of a detached house is the fact that the free space surrounding the building is private to the owner and his family. Depending on local regulations and codes, you can do whatever allowable extension or modification you would like to be done in your house. You would not have to worry about getting a permit from a landlord to do renovations. You would not need to pay property management fees like those paid by condominiums and townhouse dwellers.

The disadvantage is that all repairs and maintenance of the house and lot is at the expense of the owner. Every site improvement like adding a patio or a pool or a garden is at the expense of the owner too.  Note that maintaining the upkeep of the lawn costs a dent to the owner's pocket too. 

Semi-detached House

A semi-detached house is a pair of housing units that shares one common wall. The two houses are built to mirror each other. Interestingly enough this type of housing is called a duplex in other parts of the world. This type of housing became popular in the UK and Ireland in the 1920s to the 1930s.  This type of housing became popular to middle-income families who preferred this type to the terrace houses. Presently the semi-detached is still the most popular type of housing in England.  Sometime in 2004, a group of very enterprising realtors thought to demolish old semi-detached homes and built in its place two detached homes with inches of space between them.

One advantage of living in a semi-detached house is that there is still a level of privacy even if one wall is shared by the two houses. A glaring disadvantage is that the upkeep of your side of the property still falls solely on you. Another disadvantage is that you cannot just plan extensive renovations and extensions as you have to consider your twin house. 

Terrace Housing

Terraced housing is also known as row housing or townhomes. The origin of this type of dwelling was in the 17th century in Europe.  A row of identical looking houses sit side by side forming a long row of housing that share side walls. The end units of this row of housing are called end terrace and are far larger than the units in between the said two end units.

Terrace housing used to be only associated with the working class for this type of housing was cheap, small and has very little privacy. The Great Fire of London brought about the building of terrace housing that had façade reminiscent of columnar fronts.  Terrace housing, dependent on its location and design, was either for the working class or the wealthy class. As time went by, terrace housing evolved and became known as townhomes or townhouses which were more associated with wealthy people buying properties in less affluent communities.

One of the major advantages of terrace housing is that it is relatively cheaper than a semi-detached built in the same location. One great disadvantage is that there is no typically no yard or garden that comes with a unit. As two walls are shared, there is less privacy too. However in today's terrace housing, most are enclosed in an area complete with gates and guards to check entries and exits to the compound. This makes a current middle class or high class terrace housing (townhome) very much secured.

Flats or Apartment

A flat or an apartment is a unit of a self-contained housing that is a part of a larger building.  Such building is called an apartment building since it usually consists of several apartments for rent. The apartment is owned by the owner or occupier and may be rented out to tenants.  In the UK, some flat owners have a share in the company that owns the freehold (ownership of land and the building). The freehold company has the legal capacity to charge the flat owners ground rent. The freeholder also has the right to develop or sell the building. A flat can be a studio unit, a one- bedroom, two-bedroom or three-bedroom unit.

The main disadvantage of renting out a flat is that the unit will never be yours. You do not have the right to make improvement on the premises to suit your needs unless you ask permission from the landlord. The one advantage of renting a flat is that you don't have sole responsibility on the property as you are only renting. In case you feel like changing locations, you can just finish your lease term and leave after.