What is a semi-detached house?

What is a semi detached house

This page was last updated on 1 May 2022

What is a semi-detached house In 2022?

In the United Kingdom, a “semi-detached house” is used to describe two residences with one wall in common. This type of single family dwelling house has become popular in the United Kingdom and is frequently found in peaceful areas near public services and transportation options.

The term “semi-detached” is made up of two parts: “semi,” which means “half,” and “detached.” The word “semi” comes from the Latin word for “half,” so each of these houses only has shared walls on one side and is entirely independent and freestanding on the other sides.

Many semi detached houses are mirror image copies of the house they share a single wall with. 

Other names for a semi-detached house

Some people call such houses ‘semi attached houses’ and sometimes shorten the name ‘semi detached houses’ to just ‘semi’.  These terms all refer to the same type of property.

Semi-detached housing may also be known as duplexes or townhouses outside of the UK. A duplex is a house built with two floors, with the ground level generally containing a garage and entrance to the property, while the first floor generally contains both living quarters and an outdoor sitting area.

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What are the benefits of a semi-detached house?

  • Semi-detached houses offer a cheaper option for first-time buyers who want more privacy than a terraced house but cannot afford a fully detached house.
  • They are less expensive to maintain. You’ll spend significantly less time maintaining your detached house than a completely detached one since they have less walls, windows, roof space etc to deal with
  • They are better insulated since they are enclosed by other properties so you will save money on heating and cooling the building.

What are the disadvantages of a semi-detached property?

  • There is a danger of your privacy being disturbed by the noise coming through the neighbouring wall. If you are after complete peace and quiet, this type of property may not be the best option for you.
  • Semi-detached homes generally have smaller gardens than detached houses, which may be a problem for some individuals who wish to spend a lot of time in their gardens.
  • They can be quite damp and stuffy in the winter since they only have one exit wall for ventilation
  • There is often limited space for adding any type of outbuilding such as a shed or greenhouse which makes gardening quite difficult to undertake without an extension.

How to convert or adapt your semi-detached house

One big advantage of a semi detached home over a terraced house is that you will find it much easier to obtain planning permission to make some changes to your dream home. This is because there is more space available on one side of your house where you are not restricted by a communal wall.

There are a number of things you can do to adapt your house’s layout or extend it. Some ideas for extending your semi detached home are detailed below.

Possible Conversions

Adding a conservatory to the rear of your house can help you to enjoy your garden space. In addition, a conservatory is often cheaper than an extension as it is just a glass structure rather than being built from bricks and mortar.

You could also consider adding an additional room onto the side of your semi-detached house. This would typically be used as living quarters for guests or another family member or as a home office if you work from home.

For those who have a small garden with no outdoor space, adding extra windows with skylights can bring more natural light into the building, dramatically improving how open and modern it feels.

What other housing options are available?

The three most common property types in the UK are detached houses, semi-detached houses and terraced houses.

A detached house is one that stands alone, without any connection to another structure, whereas a semi-detached property has at least one wall connected to another home, and a terraced house is linked on both sides.

These are not the only housing options available, however. Detailed below are a number of different types of property that you might see advertised by an estate agent in the UK.

Detached Houses

Detached houses are those that stand alone with no part attached to another building. This type of property is mostly found in suburban neighbourhoods and areas in the countryside and are popular with people who want a lot of privacy.

Advantages

  • They often have more substantial gardens which makes them a good choice for people who enjoy gardening or people with young children.
  • They are less overlooked and so you may feel that you have more privacy.
  • They are quieter since you do not share a party wall with any neighbouring properties. 

In the United Kingdom, a "semi-detached house" is used to describe two residences with one wall in common.

Disadvantages

  • If you require any upkeep or maintenance, it’ll generally be more expensive since there is more to look after, such as roofs, windows, and walls.
  • Unlike semi-detached properties, detached homes have front and back doors so you may be more at risk of burglary due to the larger number of access and exit points.
  • They are generally more expensive than any other type of property and first-time buyers may not be able to afford them.

Terraced Housing

Terrace housing is similar to semi-detached housing, except that it is connected to a neighbouring house on each side by one common wall. This form of housing is a common property type in densely inhabited areas where there isn’t enough room to construct detached houses.

Advantages

  • These properties are typically cheaper to buy and maintain than detached homes.
  • You will also save a lot of money on heating in a terraced home due to the increased insulation.
  • You might feel safer leaving your house to go on holiday as terraced houses are less of an easy target for burglars.
semis

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Disadvantages

  • Terraced houses typically have smaller gardens and driveways because of their close proximity to other homes.
  • A smaller garden means that they might be less good options for those with children or pets.
  • You are much more likely to experience noise from your neighbours than if you lived in a detached home or even a semi-detached home.

End of terrace housing

In the UK, an end terraced house is a type of terraced housing that comes last  in a row of terraced houses and, as such, lacks any adjacent properties on one side.

In this way, they are similar to semi-detached properties but they are always located at the end of a road. They can be a good option if you are looking for the benefits of a semi attached  house but without the additional cost that that property type normally carries.

Advantages

  • You have more privacy than if you lived in a fully terraced property.
  • There will be more light from more windows and potentially a larger garden space.
  • They are generally cheaper options than their semi-detached counterparts despite sometimes having a similar amount of land.

Disadvantages

  • They tend to be more expensive than mid-terrace houses.
  • The heating and cooling costs will be higher than a mid-terrace house due to the lack of insulation on one side.
  • They are more exposed to burglary due to the lack of neighbours to listen out for disturbances.
semi attached house

Bungalow

A bungalow is a one-story, single-family home. Bungalows are generally characterised by their low-pitched roofs with wide eaves and large windows. This type of house is often found in suburban areas, on the outskirts of cities or towns, or in rural areas.

Advantages

  • Since bungalows tend to be one story they’re easier to maintain than multi-story homes.
  • They can create a feeling of space since you don’t have any stairs inside your home that might take up room where you could be relaxing
  • This type of home is often popular with older people because it is easier to get around in than a two-storey home and there is no need to install chair lifts.
  • In addition, bungalows are typically cheaper to heat and maintain than two-storey homes.
  • Not sharing party walls makes them quieter than semidetached houses or end terrace houses.

Disadvantages

  • Since there’s only one floor it’s harder to sell if you want to move somewhere different.
  • Since there is only one story, it might be harder for a growing family to live in than a two-storey home.
  • It can be harder to maintain privacy within a household when there is only one floor.

Back to Back housing

Back-to-back housing is a form of terraced housing in the United Kingdom in which two houses share a rear wall. This sort of housing was popular in the early 20th century because it allowed working-class families to live close to their place of work. However it is not the most common property type in the UK these days due its numerous disadvantages. 

Advantages

  • This type of housing is very cheap to construct and to rent.
  • They could be a good option for people living on their own who do not require too much additional space and want to save costs.
  • The cost of heating and cooling the home will be lower due to the shared wall.

Disadvantages

  • A major disadvantage is that these properties are often very cramped and so not good for families.
  • Due to the nature of their construction, they suffer from a lack of proper illumination and ventilation.

Town House

Townhouses are a popular type of housing in the United Kingdom because they offer a number of advantages over other types of housing. They are generally three or four stories tall, which means that they have more space than a bungalow or terraced house. They often have a small garden in the front and back.

Advantages

  • The major benefit of townhouses is that more often than not, they are larger than terraced houses or flats.
  • They generally come with their own private gardens which makes them ideal for families.
  • They are often located in prime areas, close to local amenities and transport links.

Disadvantages

  • These properties can also be quite expensive to buy and maintain.
  • They are often located in expensive areas which might make it harder to sell if you want to move location.
semi attached houses

Is a semi-detached house the best option for you?

So are you on the lookout for your own property? From a fully detached home to bungalows and townhouses, there are many options for what type of property might suit your family best. Before you make a decision, it can help to speak to estate agents about all your needs and what is most important for you.

For example, if you are concerned about energy costs then a terraced or semi-detached house might prove the best option. But for privacy, ventilation and space, a detached house or a bungalow might prove more suitable.

In general, the main advantage of a semi-detached house is that it provides that middle ground between the different property types and allows you to experience the best of many different housing options.

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Article author

James Lloyd

I am the primary writer and author for Help and Advice, having originally helped start the site because I recognised that there was a need for easy to read, free and comprehensive information on the web. I have been able to use my background in finance to produce a number of articles for the site, as well as develop the financial fitness assessment tool. This is a tool that provides you with practical advice on improving your personal financial health.

Outside of work I am a keen rugby player and used to play up to a semi-professional level before the years of injury finally took their toll.  Now you are more likely to see me in the clubhouse enjoying the game.

Email – james@helpandadvice.co.uk

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a semi-detached house?

In the United Kingdom, a “semi-detached house” is used to describe two residences with one wall in common.

What other housing options are available?

The three most common property types in the UK are detached houses, semi-detached houses and terraced houses.

Is a semi-detached house the best option for you?

So are you on the lookout for your own property? From a fully detached home to bungalows and townhouses, there are many options for what type of property might suit your family best.

What are the disadvantages of a semi-detached property?

There is a danger of your privacy being disturbed by the noise coming through the neighboring wall.

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