What are houses in England like?

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Types of houses

Most people in England live in urban areas. Towns and cities are spreading into their surrounding environment to cope with the increase populations. In England, an average of 7,000 hectares of farmland, countryside and green space were converted to urban use every year between 1985 and 1998. This is almost the equivalent size of 9,600 international football pitches!

Who owns houses in England?

More people are buying their own homes than in the past. About two thirds of the people in England and the rest of Britain either own, or are in the process of buying, their own home. Most others live in houses or flats that they rent from a private landlord, the local council, or housing association.

People buying their property almost always pay for it with a special loan called a mortgage, which they must repay, with interest, over a long period of time, usually 25 years.

What are houses in England like?

Most houses in England are made of stone or brick from the local area where the houses are built. The colours of the stones and bricks vary across the country.

Cost of Houses

A big problem in England is the rising cost of houses. In 1989 first-time buyers paid an average of around £40,000, in 2001 this had more than doubled to £85,000 and in 2006 to £151,565.

The cost of housing in England has increased much faster than people’s wages making it impossible for first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder unless they are in especially well-paid jobs, are able to call upon rich relatives or are prepared to buy jointly with friends.

The main types of houses in England are:

  • Detached (a house not joined to another house)

  • Semi-detached (two houses joined together)

  • Terraced (several houses joined together)

  • Flats (apartments)

The most popular type of home in England is semi-detached (more than 27% of all homes), closely followed by detached then terraced

Almost half of London’s households are flats, maisonettes or apartments.

The main types of houses in Italy:

  • Villa
    A fully detached and independent house. All floors pertain to the house. It may have one side joining an adjacent house.

  • Semi Detached Villa
    A semi detached house with independent access. All floors pertain to the house. It may have one or two sides joining adjacent houses.

  • Apartment
    Any apartment (or flat) that can’t be included in the villa or semi detached villa definitions. It may have neighbouring apartments in the levels above or below.

  • Rural House
    A rural property, usually fully independent and with outdoor spaces and garden, maintaining its original features but renovated to a good standard to serve as a vacation house.

  • Chalet
    A typical mountain house, for materials used and shape, not necessarily detached.

The most common types of houses in England are as follows:

  • Detached

  • End of terrace

  • Flat

  • Semi-detached

  • Terrace

  • Bungalow

  • Cottage


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. 

End of Terrace

An end of terrace house is a house situated at the end of a terrace (the definition of a “terrace” house is below). Like a semi-detached house, only one side of the house shares a common wall, while the other is detached.


A flat or an apartment is a living area that is part of a building. Usually, a flat is situated in a building that is split up into multiple living areas for different residents. 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.


A semi-detached house is a pair of houses joined together by a common wall. One side of each house shares a common wall, while the other is detached. This type of housing is called a duplex in other parts of the world. It became popular in the UK and Ireland in the 1920s and the 1930s.  Presently the semi-detached is still the most popular type of housing in England. 

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 only on you. Another disadvantage is that you cannot just plan extensive renovations and extensions as you have to consider your twin house. 


A terraced house is a house that is situated in a long row of houses. They all usually look the same pretty much identical structurally. Both sides of each house in the row share common walls with a neighbouring house, with the exception with the houses at each end of the terrace.

The origin of this type of dwelling was in the 17th century in Europe. Terrace housing used to be only associated with the working class for this type of housing was cheap, small and has very little privacy. 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 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.


Although people often think Bungalows and Cottages are the same, they are actually not, although some may appear the same. Bungalows are low profiles types of housing, as are a lot of cottages, but the distinction comes between the style, history and the price. Generally, bungalows are a lot cheaper than Cottages. The word “bungalow” originates from the Indian word bangla, which in the 19th century referred to houses built in a Bengali style. Bungalows were created when British colonial administrators adapted the classic Indian style low roofs and porches built around them. They can either be detached or semi-detached. They’re very popular in America, where they have all kinds of styles; each distinct style is often related to particular states.


Thick walls, small windows, structural pillars, low ceilings and most distinctly a thatched roof typically characterize cottages. Cottages were originally located in rural or semi-rural locations, although a lot of cottages have been developed in cities. Originally, in the middle ages, cottages housed agricultural workers and their families. The term cottage was referred to the dwelling of a peasant. However, that stereotype has since been washed away, as the traditional cottage look is now sort after, making them an expensive purchase. Cottages are houses that usually come with one and half storeys. The top floor is much smaller than the ground floor, as the pillars used to hold up the structure take up a lot of the living space. The thick, dark, classic timber pillars are usually what characterises a cottage. They’re a huge focal point of the property, as they are located throughout the property, on display to give a classic ‘village’ look. Like with bungalows, the structuring of cottages vary from country to country.

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