Q.        I seem to remember that properties used to be described as detached, semi-detached, or terraced. Now you get “link-detached” and even “attached.” What’s going on? 

A.         We all know what a “detached” property is – basically, it means that there is space all around it. So, in theory, you could argue that anything which isn’t detached must therefore be “attached.” And strictly speaking, you’d be right!

However, the fact is that over the decades we have also gotten used to the terms “semi-detached” and “terraced” – meaning, respectively, a pair of more or less identical or mirrored houses joined in the middle, and a row of three or more properties of similar design all joined together in the same way.

So far, so good. But then, from around the mid-1960s onwards, you started to see pairs of houses being built that were only joined to each other by their garages. Obviously, you couldn’t call them detached – but equally, it was doing them less than justice to describe them as semis. That’s where the term “linked-detached” came in.

Fair enough, you might say. But in that case, what on earth does “attached” actually mean? Well in essence this is a catch-all term that tends to be used by agents to describe those houses – generally older ones – which while they are physically linked to a neighbouring property in some way, don’t readily fit into any of the other standard categories. One example of this might be a pair of cottages that are stepped well back from one another so that they are only joined by a matter of a few feet. Another might be where one large property has been converted into two or more separate houses, which might be quite different in character and layout. Interestingly, however, at the “country house” end of the market, agents often don’t bother to use any of these terms. The only giveaway will be tucked away in the glossy brochure, where it might say something like “forming the major portion of historic Toad Hall!”

Of course, these days, any decent property website – such as www.orchardsestates.com – will include Google Mapping and Streetview for every listing – so you can visually check for yourself whether a property is connected to its neighbour in some way.