What is a terraced house?

The UK is full of houses that have their own design features. Terraced housing is one of the most common types of property in the UK, especially in built-up areas such as cities. They are easily recognisable as a row of uniform properties that are attached to one another on either side.

Terraced houses have been built in the UK since the 1600s, although they become particularly popular during the Georgian and Victorian periods. Despite this, older terraced houses aren’t usually Listed Buildings as there are so many of them and therefore aren’t considered to have historic or cultural significance.

You may be considering renting or buying a terraced house and want to find out more about this classic form of British property design. From its glory days as the home for the rich and wealthy to a modest property in the heart of low-income areas, the terrace house is still an important part of the country’s housing market.

In this article, we’ll look at the characteristics of terraced houses, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of this type of property.

What is a terraced house?

Row of terraced houses in London

A terraced (also known as a terrace) house is a building that has connecting properties on either side that are connected by a single wall. This creates a row of houses that are all the same shape and size. They are popular in urban areas as more houses can be built into smaller spaces.

This type of property usually won’t have a front and back garden, which lowers the overall price. A terraced house may have a small backyard or a communal front garden, but this will depend on the local area and individual property.

There are different types of terrace houses, depending on where they are situated in the row of properties. An end of terrace house can be more expensive because it is only attached to an adjoining property on one side. In this respect, it is the same as a semi-detached house, although semi-detached properties are built in pairs whereas an end of terrace property is at the end of a row.

A mid-terrace house has properties attached to either side of it. As there are usually long rows of terraced houses, the majority of homeowners in this type of property will live in a mid-terrace house. They are usually cheaper than an end terrace house because there is a higher chance of noise disturbance due to neighbouring properties on both sides.

What is the history of terraced houses?

Terrace houses become popular following the Great Fire of London in 1666 when much of the city was destroyed and had to be rebuilt. The style of property grew in popularity during the Georgian period, especially in areas such as London, Bath and Manchester. Georgian terraced houses were bought by wealthy families and featured impressive new innovations, such as sash windows.

During the following period, Victorian terraced houses were used as a way to cope with the expanding population in urban areas. However, the upper class began to buy detached houses, so the terraced house became popular with upper-middle-class families. These newly built houses were put up quickly and therefore were often poorly made.

Following the First World War, the middle-class turned to detached houses too and so terrace houses became more popular with working-class families. It was during this period that terrace houses became associated with slums and poor areas of the cities. Properties erected during this period had fewer houses in each row — usually around four to six properties.

Following the Second World War and the destruction that many cities faced, high-rise flats became more popular, which saw a decline in the construction of new-built terraced houses.

Many Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian terrace houses are still an integral part of modern cities. Georgian terraces are usually identifiable by their luxury features and ornate sash windows. They often face communal square gardens and some grander rows are built in a crescent style.

Victorian terraces feature even more detail, such as stained glass windows and ornate fireplaces. A Victorian terraced house is one of the more common types due to the large number that were built. Edwardian terraced housing tends to be shorter than the previous versions and features decorative chimneys, large rooms with high ceilings and timber interiors.

What should I consider when buying a terraced house?

Terraced housing has limited outdoor space, so it may not be for you if you would prefer a property with a large garden. However, there may be nearby communal areas you can visit if you want to see a bit of greenery.

Due to the construction of terrace houses and their close proximity to neighbouring properties, issues with the houses connected to the property could impact your house. This includes issues such as mould, damaged brickwork and cracks around cladding and windows.

Terraced houses can also get very noisy especially if they are located near busy roads. Having properties on either side, as well as other close properties also means that you may hear your neighbours as they go about their day-to-day activities. Terraced homes are therefore better suited to individuals who don’t mind a bit of noise.

What are the pros and cons of living in a terraced house?

Image of a row of terraced houses next to a road

As with any type of building, there are advantages and disadvantages to buying a terrace house. Below is a selection of pros and cons that homeowners often find with terraced houses.

Advantages of a terraced house

As terraced housing consists of properties that are built close together, they are able to share their heat through the adjoining walls. This means that there’s less of a need for insulation and heating as the property is energy efficient. This means lower heating bills than larger or detached houses. However, this only benefits mid-terrace houses as an end-of-terrace house is similar to a semi-detached and only has one adjoining property.

Terrace houses are usually the cheapest property option, which means that they are popular amongst low-income families and first-time buyers. They are also good at maintaining their value, which is why they can be a good investment.

Another benefit of terraced houses is the sense of community. Due to the large number of houses in the surrounding area, there’s a good opportunity to meet new people and make friends with your neighbours. This can be helpful if you are away from your property for periods of time as your neighbours can help keep an eye out in case of vandals or intruders.

As so many terraced houses were built several hundred years ago, they have a lot of character. They often feature ornate interior features, such as fireplaces and stained glass windows. Many individuals like to buy terraced houses as a project to work on and renovate the interior to its former glory.

Disadvantages of a terraced house

Although it can be nice to have lots of neighbours, they can also make lots of noise. Not all terraced streets are excessively loud, but you may find that there is a problem, especially if there is a busy road nearby. Neighbours can also be nosy, which is made worse with terraced houses as they will be able to see and hear you come and go. Houses with gardens will also have their outdoor space overlooked, which means that your neighbours can see directly into your garden.

Due to the tight space that terraced houses are packed into, parking is a rare commodity. There may be enough space for one car per household if you’re lucky and you may have to purchase a parking permit for additional vehicles. Terraced houses usually have strict parking rules as everyone who lives on the street will be trying to park their cars too.

It is possible to renovate terrace houses, but it can cause a great disturbance to your neighbours. The lack of space also means that it is unlikely that you will be able to extend very much, if at all. You will also need to comply with the Party Wall Act, which means that you must inform neighbours if you are going to be carrying out work near or on your shared property — most noticeably your shared wall.

Terraced houses can be spacious inside, but they are often narrow and have small rooms. This can be problematic, especially if you have a growing family or pets.