Compare Listings



When it comes to the construction of buildings, a semi-detached house refers to a single-family structure that was designed to be two separate units combined by a common wall. Most of the time, the layout of each unit will be a mirror of each other, but there are times when units of a semi-detached house will have unique living quarters.

In the United Kingdom, semi-detached houses are among the most common types of residential structures, often referred to simply as ‘semi houses’. As of 2008, semi-detached houses accounted for 32% in English housing stock, and 32% of all housing transactions in the United Kingdom. Between the years of 1945 and 1964, it was recorded 41% of all the constructed properties had a semi-detached design, but only 15% of layouts were semi-detached after 1980.

UK History

In 1815, farm laborer housing had usually been just a single room shed that had a pantry and outshot for scullery, with two bedrooms on the second floor. These houses would commonly be constructed using materials such as brick, local stone, or cob placed on wooden frames. Although these buildings were unsanitary, the largest issue was due to there being too few built. With an increasing population, and with enclosure acts, it was becoming hard for laborers to locate additional land for building their homes, putting responsibility on the speculative builder or landowner to come up with an alternative approach.

Vernacular patterns were followed by estate villages; however, this became an adopted model design using pattern books. By the 18th century, a ‘picturesque’ style was decided by landowners. To reduce their overall construction costs and increase living areas, layouts for double cottages were built. In 1834, Smith had written “this type of cottage is able to be constructed cheaper compared to the cost of two individual cottages, and it has been discovered that the double cottage layout is often just as comfortable, and warmer than that of single cottages.”

Urban Working-Class Housing

Although a large increase had occurred in the population of rural counties, the population experienced a greater shift by impoverished land in larger towns and in London. Meanwhile, the labor classes were divided into laborer’s and artisans while society was being restructured. Cities had provided housing for laborer’s in rookeries, tenement blocks, and lodge housing. Furthermore, philanthropic societies focused attention towards these areas, resulting in the 1844 expansion of rural “Laborer’s Friend Society’. Thus, leading to many reports on the urban working classes housing conditions being reconstituted as a ‘Society for enhancing conditions of the laboring class’. The earlier layouts published were for dwellings with a semi-detached design, but lodging houses and tenements were the first properties build.

  • Burnett, John (1986). A social history of housing : 1815-1985 (2nd e. ed.). New York: Methuen. ISBN 0416367801.