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Different types of property in the UK

Published: 25/09/2020 By Richard Bennett

Here in Britain, we are extremely lucky to have a very diverse style of housing. There are many different types of property in the UK, and if you’re buying your first home you may be wondering what some of the names actually mean.

We’re going to clear all that up for you, by explaining what each and every residential property type is and how they differ from one another.

What is a Flat?
Often considered the first step on the property ladder, flats are the most affordable type of housing in the UK. There are, of course, exceptions but for the most part, UK flats are less expensive than houses, which makes them ideal for first time buyers and small families. Their name, rather unsurprisingly, comes from the fact that flats are mostly single-level residential properties comprising of a set of rooms all located on one floor.

What is an Apartment?
There is a difference between a flat and an apartment. While it’s true that Brits are more likely to use the word flat than apartment, there are actual differences in their meaning.  As mentioned above, the word flat refers to an property made up of several rooms on a single floor within a building that contains other, similar residences. Apartments, on the other hand, are generally considered to be the flat’s more well-to-do cousin. While they are still formed from a number of rooms, they can be set across more than one floor and are also thought to be better appointed and more luxurious than a simple flat.

What is a Studio Flat?
This is where things get a little more confusing. One bedroom flats are often mistakenly identified as Studios, despite the true meaning of a studio flat being quite different. A true studio flat is a single room that houses everything bar the bathroom. As such, studio flats are usually made up of a single, larger room which is then divided into different areas by furniture or partial walls. Kitchen, living area, and sleeping quarters are all in the same room, whereas a one bed flat will have a separate bedroom at the very least. Both, however, will have a separate bathroom.

What is a Maisonette?
This is probably the most misused of all property terms, yet there’s a simple rule that defines a true maisonette: it must have its own private entrance that opens directly to the outside world. So, there’s no indoor communal area with a maisonette. Maisonettes are also frequently two-storey as opposed to the single-level flat. 

What is a Coach House?
A coach house, also called a carriage house is an outbuilding which was originally built to house horse-drawn carriages. Buildings that were originally true carriage houses that have been converted. Purpose-built coach houses, are generally best described as a home that is situated above a row of garages and is more of a flat really. In times past, carriage drivers would live in the coach house in a flat, and when the horse drawn carriages gave way to the motor car, chauffeurs would sleep in the flat above. 

What is a Bungalow?
"Bung a low roof on it" isn’t the true explanation of a bungalow I’m afraid ! The word 'bungalow' is actually formed from the Hindi word 'bangala', which refers to single-storey homes in Bengal. A bungalow is commonly known as a single-storey detached house, although some may have a second level thanks to a loft conversion. The first two bungalows in England were built in Westgate-on-Sea in 1870. However, in order to be a true bungalow, the loft conversion must maintain a sloping roof, into which dormer windows are placed. These are commonly referred to as Chalet Bungalows. As bungalows don’t go up, they usually go out, so they will often cover a greater expanse of land than a normal house would. It’s largely for this reason that bungalows aren’t really being built in the UK anymore, therefore a bungalow on the market is almost always going to be from the 20th century.

What is a Cottage?
Once the preserve of ‘cotters’, the common term for farm labourer who were given a property in return for their work, cottages are now seemingly everywhere. These urban cottages should, however, be more correctly labelled cottage-style rather than true cottages. The dictionary merely refers to a cottage as ‘a small house, usually in the countryside’, so the term can be used somewhat loosely.

What is a Terraced House?
Terraced housing is a row of uniform homes built in a continuous line and a terraced house is a property within that row. Terraced houses are one of the most popular forms of housing in the UK. The reason for this is obvious, as their shared side walls allow more homes to be built on a plot of land than would be possible with detached or semi-detached houses. An “end-of-terrace” is exactly as one would expect, a terraced house at the end of a row. They are also considered to be more desirable than those in the middle, largely due to the fact that you’ll only have neighbours on one side rather than two.


What is a Town House?
Historically, a town house was the city residence of a noble or wealthy family, who would own one or more houses in the country. Most townhouses were terraced; it was one of the successes of Georgian architecture to persuade the rich to buy terraced houses. Usually two or three stories tall, modern town houses have their master bedroom suites on the top floor. Some have integral garages.

What is a Semi-Detached House?
Semi-detached homes share at least one wall with an existing structure that is separately owned. Not only does this save a great deal of space but these are also noticeably cheaper when compared to fully detached houses. 

What is a Detached House?
Another simple definition, a detached house is a standalone property that do not share any walls with another property. Widely regarded as the pinnacle of homeownership for most, detached homes are the most private dwelling you can buy. Front and rear gardens are commonplace with detached houses, and some will be situated on even greater areas of land. If they get too large and luxurious, however, they could be deemed as a mansion.

What is a Mansion?
A mansion is a grand property owned by a wealthy individual or family. You may automatically think of stately homes when the word mansion is mentioned but the actual definition doesn’t put any distinction on the term other than it being a large and impressive house.


Regardless of the type of property you’re looking to buy or sell, here at Nicholsons Estate Agents, we’re here to help. If you are thinking about entering the property market in Retford, Bawtry, Worksop or the villages, give us a call. 01777 808777