The middle-class symbol of aspiration, compromised individualism and conservatism, the semi-detached home is England’s contemporary domestic type per quality.
In lay man’s terms, a semi-detached home can be defined as a single-family living house built as a single pair with a shared common wall. Most times, the layout of each housing unit is designed to mirror each other.
Semi-detached houses are the most popular type of property in the UK. As at 2010, they were responsible for 32% of housing units sold in the UK. Between 1945 and 1964, semi-detached houses accounted for 41% of all properties built. The figure later fell to 15% in 1980. However, it is grown significantly since then.
In 1815, the typical farm labourer lied in a one-room shed with the pantry and scullery set in an outshot, as well as two upstairs bedrooms. The house was natural made of brick, or stone if it was available locally, or cob hoisted on a wooden frame.
While they posed unhygienic living conditions, the more worrying problem at the time was that they were too few. As the population increased, and after the enclosure acts, labourers found it difficult to find available land to build their home. It thus became the responsibility of the speculative builder or landlord.
In 1851, in English counties like Devonshire, Norfolk and Wiltshire, the population was reportedly 567, 443 and 254 respectively.
Estate villages had vernacular patterns, but it evolved to using model designs from pattern books. By the start of the 18th century, landlords selected a “scenic style” of home building and arrangement. In order to reduce costs, double cottages were constructed. Documented records show that these types of cottages (double-style) were built cheaper than two single units, and overall, were warmer and as comfortable as the single-built cottages.
As the population in the rural areas grew, there was an even drastic increase in the number of people moving from the poor villages to the bigger towns and London. At the same time, the society was undergoing a restructured process, with the labour class divided into artisans and labourers.
The cities provided labourers with accommodation in tenement blocks, lodging houses and rookeries. There were also charitable gestures from philanthropic organisation and communities. In 1844, the rustic “Labourers’ Friend Society” grew, and due to the various accounts on the housing conditions of the urban workers, it was re-formed to become the “Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes”.
The first designs they printed were of semi-detached buildings, but the properties they first built were lodging houses and tenements. In the Society’s 1850 publication written by H. Roberts, there were model plans for semi-detached cottages for labourers in the cities and neighbouring towns.
In 19th century, the middle class became an important and growing group in the society. With the coming of industrialisation, the capitalist entrepreneur saw a lot to gain. There were new professions to service the growing housing needs such as insurers, designers and engineers.
The population growth also led to an increasing demand for architects, lawyers, teachers, dentists, doctors and shopkeepers. Then came hierarchical tiers within the middle-class groups, each looking at the preceding status and hoping to raise theirs.
According to “A New System in Practical Domestic Economy, the baseline income for the typical middle class worker was 15,000 per annum. It is also estimated that in 1851, the total population of the middle-class was 3,000,000 out of 18,000,000. The middle-class was home-centred and highly family-conscious. The defining attribute was their value system.
Semi-detached homes were first systematically planned in the Georgian architecture of the late 18th century. It was a suburban concession between the terraced houses near the city centre and the detached “villas” on the outskirts.
A common type of semi-detached house in the early years is a row of houses where each pair is joined together by a wall along the front. A typical example is The Paragon in Blackheath, where an empty arcade runs between each home.
While a detached home is separate, one-family residence, a semi-detached house is one that is co-joined to another by a common shared wall.
The things to know about living in a semi:
Individuals who prefer privacy or their own space, including room to accommodate a growing family usually prefer a detached building if they can afford it.
Owners of semi-detached buildings tend to get more space for their money because the construction costs are cheaper than those of detached homes.
People who are financially ready to purchase a home, go for either semis or fully-detached properties depending on their budget. But semi-detached homes are normally cheaper than detached houses.
The location of any property plays a huge role. A detached home in an undesirable neighbourhood can be less expensive than a semi-detached home in a more sought after area.