Terrace Houses

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Terrace Houses

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Terrace Houses are nothing new in the Singaporean real estate market and definitely not unique to the region. This style of medium-density housing was first popularized in Europe starting in the 16th century, and has grown in importance and popularity through the years in different regions, including the United States and Singapore. Often the choice of the working class in many regions, terrace houses have become popular options in Singapore due to cost and land limitations.

In Singapore, terrace houses refer to houses constructed in a row of at least three (3) houses, abutting the same boundary. There are size requirements as well, including width. The width of the house can vary, provided that it should not be less than 8 meters wide for corner houses and 6 meters wide for intermediate units. Corner units are often priced higher in the market, thanks to the greater allotted space. While these properties cannot compete with Good Class Bungalows in terms of value in the market, there are some terrace houses that have made headlines thanks to their transaction prices. In April 2014, a rare terrace house situated in Whampoa netted $1.02 million, easily beating the final value of the property sold in Bishan Street 13 Maisonette.

Investors and individuals looking for terrace houses in Singapore will find two (2) specific types: terrace house I and terrace house II. The terrace house I, the buffer requirement is the base for the front setback from the road. For the second type of terrace house, the roof eaves and building wall are setback 2 meters and 1 meter from the road.

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Design Configurations for Terrace Houses

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The design configurations and general layout of terrace houses are similar to British terrace house designs. The general layout calls for the living quarters at the top floor and the front, and the kitchen is located at the back. This design intention takes into account the tropical weather of the region; a climate that is generally warm punctuated by heavy rainfall. The early designs of Singaporean terrace houses feature one or two floors and are open, to allow better air circulation.

Through the years, these types of properties have been modified to suit individual tastes and requirements. For example, there were terrace houses that feature shops and stores on the first floor and the living areas on the second floors. These derivatives were called shop houses, and familiar options particularly in heavy urban areas.

Terrace houses located in inner city will not feature a frontal yard due to limited space and narrow street frontages. This means that the structure is directly constructed in front of the city’s roads. One reason for this approach is taxation: local taxes focus on the street frontage instead of total area. Terrace houses that are located outside the city offers relaxed regulations, with some properties featuring larger front yards that can be used for parking cars. And some properties will even carry a small garden.

In terms of materials used, early terrace houses were made from wood, but were later replaced by masonry shells, wooden beams and tiled roofs. Contemporary terrace houses now feature reinforced concrete beams, brick walls and concrete slabs.

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Configuring Terrace Houses into Semi-Detached Houses or Bungalows

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There are rules in place that regulate improvements and changes that can be made on terrace houses.

For example, a corner terrace house can be re-developed into two (2) new semi-detached houses or a Detached House if the project complies with the minimum required lot areas and widths, and that the adjoining terrace lot size will feature at least 8 meters width and an area of 200 sq meters.

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