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Semi-Detached or Terraced House – Which Should You Choose?

The price of the average detached house in London is now approaching the £1million mark, according to the latest official Government figures. This means that many people are opting for a semi-detached or terraced property instead – but what are the pros and cons of buying either of these sorts of homes?

If you are looking for an experienced building surveyor, at Anderson Associates, we are extremely knowledgeable about the property market in the capital and in Kent, Essex and Suffolk. Here we look at the key advantages and disadvantages of buying these two types of house.

Terraced Homes – the Advantages…

Terraced houses are also known as row housing or town homes, and they first appeared in the 17th century in Europe. The properties in a terrace are identical and share two side walls – or one wall where the property is at the end of a terrace. These kinds of properties are common in parts of south and east London. 

Terraced homes are usually cheaper to buy than detached or semi-detached properties in the same area. They are usually more energy-efficient, as they are enclosed by other properties and so retain heat well.

…and the Disadvantages

One of the principal downsides with terraced properties is noise. Older homes will not be built to modern sound-proofing standards, so if you have noisy neighbours you could soon know about it.

Another potential issue with terraced properties is parking. Even if there is space to leave a car outside the house, there may be legal restrictions such as residents’ parking schemes. It is certainly worth checking the situation before you commit to a purchase.

Outdoor space generally will be limited, so if the property does have a garden, it is likely to be small.  There is also the matter of access – do you or your neighbour need to go through each other’s gardens to reach your own?

Inside the home, the rooms tend to be smaller, and the staircases narrower, than in a semi-detached property. This is not ideal if you have a growing family.

End terraces can be subject to their own specific problems.  Buyers could be vulnerable to something known as the ‘bookend effect’ – where the sun’s thermal energy causes the terrace façade to expand, and all the party walls to sway. All the strain of this is borne by the end houses, meaning their walls can crack and the door and window frames become distorted. Fortunately, this is rare.

Any structural alterations undertaken are likely to involve the Party Wall Act and could affect both neighbours and more Party Wall Surveyors fees incurred. This means you may be legally obliged to tell your neighbour if you are having any internal work done, and you may need their consent for any major renovations if it could affect their property.

Semi-Detached Homes – the Pros…

Semi-detached properties became popular in the UK in the 1920s and 30s. These types of homes, which are known as duplexes in other parts of the world, comprise two houses which share one party wall and normally an identical mirrored internal layout.

Many semi-detached houses come with a driveway, which means you don’t have to worry about parking issues. Their gardens are generally larger than those of terraced properties, giving families somewhere to play and socialise. If there isn’t a driveway, it may be possible to convert part of your garden into a parking space. An independent chartered surveyor like Anderson Associates will be able to advise you on this.

You will usually have more space in a semi-detached property.

…and the Cons

The major disadvantage of your average ‘semi’ is that it will be more expensive than a terraced house in the same area – although it will still be cheaper than a fully detached home.

Occupants of semi-detached properties share a common party wall with a neighbour, so there may still be some issues of noise and privacy. As with terraced houses, you will also be subject to the Party Wall Act for any major works.

In addition, not all houses are freehold tenure. If your prospective purchase is a leasehold property, you may be liable for landlord or freeholder maintenance charges and ground rent.

Full Building Surveys from Anderson Associates

So whichever type of property you want to buy, you will benefit from the advice of expert surveyors Anderson Associates’ head office is on the outskirts of Ipswich and we also have offices in Eltham in south-east London and Croydon in Surrey. We carry out surveys on all types of properties predominantly in East London, South East London and other parts of the capital, and also in Kent, Essex and Suffolk.

Whatever type of property you end up putting an offer in for, we recommend that you have a full building survey carried out. This will identify any problems with the property, such as structural issues which many not be immediately apparent.

We are also experts in party wall matters under the Party Wall Act which can apply if you want to carry out any extensions or alterations.

Our principal, Paul Anderson, is a highly experienced building surveyor, who has been working in both the public and private property sectors for more than 30 years. We are fully independent, which means we work for you and not the lender. We provide comprehensive reports which will identify any issues with any intended house purchase and help take the stress of buying a new home. Follow this link and fill in the online form to enquire about a survey.


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Whether you need a simple valuation or a full structural survey as well as being expert building surveyors we’re happy to give you free, impartial advice on anything to do with buildings and property.
Anderson Associates
(Head Office & Correspondence Address)
Warneford House, Portal Avenue
Martlesham Heath, Ipswich
Suffolk IP5 3QY
T. 01473 623 656
T. 0800 652 8285
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Registered Office: Anderson Associates (Surveying) Ltd. | Warneford House, Portal Avenue, Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, Suffolk IP5 3QY
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