How are maisonettes different to flats?

At Home Tales, providing an excellent service with incredible results is at the top of our priority list. We offer modern design packages to homeowners looking to undertake home improvement projects such as a home extension or internal refurbishment. As a standard, we believe house extension companies in London should be well informed on the types of dwellings available, be it a flat, maisonette, or terraced house. Being able to accurately define the type of dwelling ensures all stages of the design process are relevant. For example, when carrying out a ground floor extension in London within a low-level maisonette, the client must be aware that they are not entitled to Permitted Development Rights, which will affect time scales and pricing.

If you have ever been a part of the house hunt or dabbled in some window shopping for a new home, you would have come across the term “maisonette”. You may already know what this is, but we have found that some prospective homeowners can become confused by the terminology, especially when thrown into the mix with flats. That is why, in today’s post, we wanted to delve a bit deeper into what exactly defines a maisonette and what distinguishes them from a block of flats.

What defines a maisonette?

Maisonette originates from the French word for “small house” and can be described as a self-contained unit with its own direct access from outside. They grew in popularity from the 1960s as there was a need for providing more housing at an affordable price. In other parts of Europe, a maisonette may also be used to describe a holiday cottage, although this is not the case in the UK. Our maisonettes are typically spread across two floors and are a part of a larger building, though the occupants do not share amenities. They are often found in converted period properties, terraces, semi-detached houses, and above ground floor shops. They can be a ground floor or first floor maisonette. The privacy level can vary depending on the type of neighbours surrounding the property, as a workshop/takeaway below would be louder than say a yoga studio. Generally, they offer a better level of privacy than flats, which have neighbours above, below, and to the side.

As maisonettes are more personable properties, they offer more storage space than a flat would and may also include a garden or garage. It gives the feel and space of a house but at a budget-friendly price point. Furthermore, whether you are on the top floor or ground floor, you would be free to extend into the loft or garden space (with the approval of your neighbours via planning permission). Therefore investing into a maisonette is more worthwhile than a flat as you can make changes that will add value to the property.

These are commonly leasehold properties, which means you would own the property but not the entire land it sits upon. As a result, additional fees are paid to the freeholder for maintenance and other services. It does not mean all owners of maisonettes are solely leaseholders, on the contrary, they can be a shared freeholder or a sole freeholder. In this case, maintenance would be split between each party or would fall entirely on you i.e. plumbing, fixing gutters and roofing, etc. Just like flats, any proposed external changes to a maisonette would not fall under Permitted Development Rights and will need to get full planning permission from the local planning authority.

What defines a flat?

Flats are self-contained units that are built in blocks on top of one another and usually span over one floor. They have a shared access and staircase, meaning there is a shared lobby or hallway, so you might cross paths with your neighbours often. There may also be shared amenities such as a kitchen, workspace, or gym. As there are many occupants within a block of flats, restrictive rules are usually put in place to keep the peace, such as not allowing pets or altering the unit structurally or superficially i.e. painting.

Overall, a flat could feel less homely because you are unable to personalise or alter it as much as a maisonette or house and there is less privacy. It is likely you’ll be surrounding by neighbours, so if noise is a deciding factor, it is important for you to visit the unit at different times of the day and speak with the neighbours. On the plus side, flats are usually more affordable and you won’t have to be the one maintaining the property. If your main aim is to save money and effort before purchasing a house, this may be a good option for you.

If you’re considering making some changes to improve your living standards in a flat, maisonette or house, reach out to us! Our friendly team of professionals would love to hear from you. To discuss your project and allow us to explain our process, call us on 02070432378 or send us an email with your details to Alternatively, click here to visit our live diary and book in a telephone consultation for a time that best suits you. We offer two types of consultations, our Standard and Plus.

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