Britain has a diverse housing market, with many different types of UK property. If you’re thinking about buying a house in the UK, the many types of UK houses can make deciding on the best property for you an overwhelming decision. In this guide we’ll be giving you the lowdown on all of the UK property types, and help you to answer questions such as what’s the difference between a flat and an apartment? What is a maisonette? And many more. Read on for more information or use the menu below to navigate through the guide.
What is a flat?
The name ‘flat’ comes from the fact that flats are usually single level properties, with all rooms on the same floor. There are normally many flats in a single building, this means that they can save a lot of space and house many people in an efficient manner.
Flats are historically very popular amongst first time buyers, and are often considered the first rung on the property ladder. Flats are also popular in city centres and more densely populated areas where space is in limited supply and therefore more expensive. This is because they are known for their space-saving qualities and convenience.
Flats are great residential properties for single individuals living alone, young professionals in a ‘flat share’, or small families as a first property. Flats are much more affordable than other UK property types, for example detached or semi-detached houses. The average one bedroom monthly flat rental in the UK is around £600 across urban and extra urban areas.
Difference between flats and apartments
It’s often thought that ‘apartment’ is more of an Americanism and Brits tend to use the term ‘flat’. Whilst this is the case, there are also some structural differences between these house types. As mentioned earlier, flats are typically across one floor. Apartments can be spread over multiple floors and tend to be considered as more luxurious than flats.
What are the different types of flat and apartment in the UK?
Purpose Built Flats: These are properties that were constructed with the purpose of being flats from the planning stage. For example, a city-centre block of flats would be considered ‘purpose built’, whilst a large house that has been converted into a number of flats would not.
Converted Flats: Converted flats are usually an older, larger house that has been repurposed and split into multiple living spaces. This can be two or more flats, depending upon the original size of the building. Converted flats can be beautiful because of the old period style of the building, however they are notoriously noisy due to a lack of soundproofing.
Studio Flats: A studio flat is usually the smallest type of flat in the UK. Studios combine kitchen, living area and bedroom into one open space. This kind of flat is most well suited for single people or couples since there isn’t enough space for privacy. Studios are often confused with one bedroom flats, but whilst one-beds will typically have a separate bedroom, a studio groups all rooms into one open area (with the exception of bathroom).
Duplex Flats: These are also known as split-level flats owing to the fact that they’re split over two floors. These floors are normally separated by a staircase and whilst they often feel bigger than their single-floor counterparts, they’re usually the same size.
What is a maisonette?
Maisonette is a tricky house type to define as its definition can vary depending on location. In the UK a maisonette is defined as a self-contained flat inside a larger building. Maisonettes must have their own staircase and entrance. This is similar to a duplex, but the door to a maisonette has its own front door with direct access to the street, whereas a duplex can be accessed via a shared entrance with common internal parts.
The term derives from the French word ‘maisonette’ which translates to mean ‘small house’. There are many examples of maisonettes in East London. Typically the lower maisonette will have its own outdoor space and entrance, whilst the upper maisonette will have a separate entrance and staircase, and may have private outdoor space to the rear of the building.
What is the difference between a flat and a maisonette?
There are three key differences between maisonettes and flats in the UK. Firstly, flats are usually spread over a single floor, whilst a maisonette will have more than one level and contain a staircase. Secondly, maisonettes have their own entrance whilst flats can share a common internal space and front door. Finally, maisonettes are less likely to be sold as part of a large block of flats and are normally more bespoke than flats, with higher variation in size and spec.
What are the advantages of a maisonette?
There are a few advantages of a maisonette that makes some consider them superior to flats. These are:
- Increased Privacy: a maisonette benefits from having its own front door and therefore feels more a self contained home. Additionally, a maisonette will usually have access to private outdoor space.
- Fewer issues with neighbours: because a maisonette has its own front door it means that there will be fewer issues with maintenance of internal common space to coordinate with neighbours.
- Additional storage space: maisonettes have more internal space than a regular flat and therefore benefit from a larger floor area and more space for storage.
- Development potential: maisonettes (particularly in Victorian houses) can have more development potential than a flat. Both upper and lower maisonettes offer different development options. Upper maisonettes could have the potential for a loft conversion to add an additional bedroom. Adding a dormer extension here can provide more head height and natural light. Lower maisonettes typically have a private outdoor space that can be used to extend either out to the rear or to the side of the property. This creates more floor space in the property and can increase the property value.
What is a terraced house?
A terraced house is a part of a row of houses where attached homes share side walls. Terraced houses are popular because they are significantly more affordable than semi detached and detached houses. They are one of the most recognisable styles of housing in the UK, and around a quarter of the UK population live in terraced housing.
Terraced housing first emerged as a property type in the late 17th century and developed into many different styles, from grand aristocratic to low income worker housing. Terraced housing exploded in the Victorian era as a solution to the demographic changes caused by the industrial revolution which saw huge urbanization. Vast swathes of terraced housing were built across the UK to accommodate Britain’s workers who needed to live close to the factories.
Nowadays, terraced housing remains popular because it is generally the most affordable type of housing available in the UK, they don’t require a huge amount of maintenance because of their relatively low square footage, and they’re regarded as safe housing due to the close knit community that emerges from having neighbors on each side. Terraced houses are generally smaller than semi detached and detached housing however, rarely come with garden space and can sometimes be noisy due to the close proximity to neighbors and lack of soundproofing.
What is a semi detached house?
A semi detached house is a house that is joined to another, but only on one house. These houses tend to be cheaper than detached homes but more expensive than detached houses.
Semi detached houses began to be constructed on a large scale in the UK during the 18th century in response to housing shortages caused by a rapidly expanding population. This was true especially in cities due to a mass influx of people from rural areas. The push to build semi-detached housing in the UK had a second purpose, to stimulate the construction sector by promoting building types with a higher return on investment than the traditional detached house.
Later, in the mid 19th century, there was a mass construction of semis that were targeted towards the middle classes, they were called ‘suburban villas’ to prevent association with low-income housing. The earliest examples of semi-detached houses are to be found in Coventry and Suffolk and there are now around 7 million semi-detached houses in the UK.
Owners of semi detached houses enjoy more privacy than terraced homes, usually have some outdoor or garden space and semi detached houses are usually more affordable than detached houses. On the flipside, developing a semi detached house can create tension with your neighbor, and there is more maintenance to take into account than with a terraced property.
What is a detached house?
A detached house is a stand-alone house, usually set on it’s own plot of land and not physically joined to any other building. Detached houses are usually one of the more expensive property types in the UK and are most common in high density, low income areas such as wealthy suburbs and the countryside. The average detached house price in the UK was £424,000 in March 2021.
Detached houses appeal to property owners because they’re generally more spacious than other property types, offering outdoor space, privacy, and freedom to do what the homeowner wants. There are some disadvantages to owning a detached house however. For example, they rarely come with any shared amenities that are often offered with flat developments, the homeowner is in charge of maintaining the property, and because they tend to be located further away from city centers they represent a longer commute time.
What is a bungalow?
A bungalow is a type of house that is set on one floor. They sometimes have upper floors in the roof-space, usually using dormer windows. The fact that bungalows are set on one floor means that they have to occupy a larger ground space, and can actually make them more, rather than less expensive than a traditional detached house.
The first Bungalows in the UK became popular in the mid 19th century, designed by an English architect called John Taylow. They began to be used for large country or suburban residential buildings built in the ‘arts and crafts’ style. Bungalows are seen as highly desirable by the British public. In fact, research from Alliance and Leicester found that a whopping third of the population described a bungalow as their dream home! Particularly interesting is the fact that around half of 16-19 year olds liked the idea of not having to use the stairs.
Fun fact: the word bungalow derives from a Hindi word meaning “a house in the Bengali style” and came into the English language during the era of the British administration of India.
What is a cottage?
The last type of house that we will cover is the cottage. Cottages are defined as small houses, usually countryside dwellings in sparsely populated areas that are further away from large cities and towns.
Cottages were first built during the middle ages for farmers and their families. These farmers were known as ‘cotters’ and their cottages were known to mean a small farmhouse with land surrounding it. Cottages are known for their sturdy construction and thick walls. They can be one or two stories high and are often used as holiday homes for ‘staycations’ in the UK.
Cottages make popular UK homes because they are secluded and private, offering peace and quiet and a country retreat for their owners. They frequently have large amounts of outdoor space too. However, the upkeep of cottages can be quite expensive due to elements of their construction such as thatched roofing, and they are quite expensive dwellings to purchase in general.
How can SmoothSale help?
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Q: Can I find Victorian terraced houses outside of London?
A: Absolutely! While these houses are prevalent in London, they can also be found in many other UK cities and towns.
Q: Are Tudor-style cottages equipped with modern amenities?
A: Yes, many Tudor-style cottages have been renovated to include modern comforts without compromising their historic charm.
Q: What are some advantages of living in modern apartments?
A: Modern apartments offer the convenience of city living, often featuring amenities like gyms, rooftop gardens, and easy access to public transportation.
Q: Are suburban detached houses typically more expensive than urban apartments? A: The cost of these housing options can vary widely depending on location, size, and other factors. It’s best to research specific areas for accurate pricing information.
Q: How can I find converted industrial spaces available for living?
A: There are various online platforms and real estate agencies that specialise in unique properties, including converted industrial spaces.
Q: Do Georgian townhouses require extensive maintenance due to their age?
A: While older properties may require some maintenance, many Georgian townhouses have been well-preserved and updated to modern standards.