Terrace house design ideas, inspiration & pictures

Characteristics and styles of terrace houses

A terrace house (also known as a ‘terraced house’) is called a townhouse in North America and South Africa, and it refers to a style of medium-density housing that originated in Europe in the 16th century. Their other common name is ‘row houses’ (especially in India and some parts of the USA), which makes more sense, seeing as it’s a row of identical or mirror-image houses that share side walls.

A terrific example is the “Painted Ladies” located in San Francisco, flaunting their similar architectural styles and eye-catching colours side by side.

In South Africa, it is not uncommon to find a complex and estate with townhouses or flats designed in this style, where two or more units share side walls.

Style wise, terraced houses or townhouses can be in any design imaginable, depending on the complex in which they are situated. The most common styles to be found in South African complexes and estates are usually modern, contemporary and rustic. In the case of rustic, townhouse complexes flaunt neutral/earthy colour schemes as well as thatched roofing, and the style is usually mirrored in the estate’s garden design, as well as its available amenities (such as the swimming pool, if applicable, and parks).

Pros and cons of terrace houses

The basic idea of acquiring a terraced house is to save the owner the extra costs of maintenance and upkeep while also providing recreational and other amenities for which costs are shared by a homeowners association. But before you jump on the bandwagon and purchase yourself a terraced house in a neat estate, take both pros and cons into consideration:


The initial purchasing price of a townhouse/terraced house is generally lower than that of a similar-sized free-standing home. It’s also not uncommon to be presented with a discount when looking for a terraced house, as a lot of developers offer discounts in order to sell as many units as possible as soon as construction is completed.


The maintenance costs of the ‘common areas’ of a townhouse complex, such as the lawns, gardens, parking spaces and picnic areas, are shared by terraced house developments. The homeowners association contracts this work to outside firms that specialise in grounds maintenance, thereby saving owners the trouble of carrying out the work themselves.


A lot of owners of terraced houses purchase them simply for the sake of getting to use the available amenities in the complex, such as the swimming pool(s) and tennis courts. In addition, there may be extra parking areas for guests to use, as well as meeting rooms (or clubhouses) available for private gatherings.


You should know that to live in a townhouse complex means having less privacy than living in a free-standing house in a suburban neighbourhood, as the units are built in groups or rows where the homes share common walls and/or roofs. As a result, noise levels may become an issue, and the density of the development will be much higher than in a neighbourhood of single-family homes.

Bear in mind that living in a townhouse complex (regardless of whether you are renting or buying) also enforces the estate’s rules and regulations upon you, such as speed restrictions, the washing and parking of motor vehicles, and/or reducing all noise levels after a certain prescribed time at night.

In terms of purchasing property as a form of investment, housing units in a security complex can be a more financially sound decision. As terraced houses are all situated within the same security walls, they are often reported as being better priced.

Another crucial factor should be kept in mind: safety. Residing in a townhouse in a security complex is meant to offer more safety, with all units enclosed by security fencing and guards monitoring entrants into the complex – a definite plus point when it comes to picking out properties.

Costs of terrace houses

While building costs for free-standing houses cost an average of R6,539 per square metre (depending on various factors, of course), townhouses and flats clock in at approximately R7,581 per square metre. Location also plays a big role, as construction of residential structures (i.e. free-standing houses, townhouses and flats) is most expensive in KwaZulu-Natal, for example. With the exception of townhouses/terraced homes (where Northern Cape holds the number three position), the provinces of Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal hold the top three cost positions for all the other building types.

Houses smaller than 80 m² present building costs of around R4,438/m², while those exceeding 80 m² are valued at roughly R6,614 per square metre.

How homify can help

Seeking a terrace house / townhouse? How about a city flat or apartment? Here is where homify can help, for our ever-increasing collection of houses show off a wide variety of styles and designs (not to mention sizes and budgets) to get your inspirational juices flowing.

Pair that up with our wide range of professionals, such as architects and interior designers, and you have quite a few expert options to help you acquire the house of your dreams.