As semi-detached housing becomes stylish again, why not learn to love the terrace?

Terraced houses make the most of a lack of space in London. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Terraced houses make the most of a lack of space in London. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

When we lived in a 1970s semi, our neighbours once came round with a can of oil because the squeak of our wardrobe doors was driving them mad. The walls were so thin we could care for each other's sleeping babies without leaving home.

So now the semi is suddenly stylish again, I hope they've improved the sound-proofing.

Last year more semi-detached houses were built than in any time in the last 20 years. As we fall out of love with flats and can't stretch to detached, they seem to be the only other option.

Once upon a time, nearly half of UK homes were mirror-image semis. Not just a house, they represent a certain respectable suburban lifestyle, complete with lawn and veggie patch. When young couples move from a flat to a semi it's somehow a defining grown-up moment.

Although booming apartments are taking over our city centres, we are not, by instinct, a nation of flat-dwellers. We like our own patch of ground. So, rather than waste space on semis, if we want to make the most of our increasingly crowded space then why not learn to love the terrace again? Terraced houses can be bigger, warmer, just as private and take up a lot less room.


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I grew up in a terraced house, twice the size of similarly-priced detached and with a huge garden – and we never heard so much as a squeak from next door.

Our present house is detached but not exactly luxuriating in its own grounds. Between us and next door we can park a bike and a bin and that's about it. That space would be much more useful inside the house.

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Terraced houses have a bit of an image problem. People usually think of something humble, small, dark, possibly even back to back. But what about the splendours of Georgian crescents? Enormous, beautifully-proportioned rooms and all taking up the minimum of space.

After all, 10 Downing Street is a terraced house. The Queen's first home in Piccadilly was a terraced house – though possibly rather grander than most.

There are signs. In crowded towns and cities a new generation of town houses is going up – tall and thin, with a little courtyard to sit out in. A terrace by any other name. We need more.

After all, if it is good enough for Her Majesty and the prime minister.

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