Every Type of House in Singapore - Private Housing (WAT #5) - Mortgage Master Blog

Every Type of House in Singapore - Private Housing (WAT #5)

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by Kyler Q. on

Click HERE for Part 1 of Every Type of House in Singapore

Private Housing


  1. Walk-Up apartments
  2. Private apartments
  3. (Private) Condominium


  1. Terraced houses
  2. Semi-Detached
  3. Cluster houses
  4. Townhouses
  5. Shophouses
  6. Conservation houses
  7. Bungalows/Detached house
  8. Good Class Bungalows (GCB)


  1. Black & White (B&W) Houses

Private Housing


Alright ladies and gents, put on your coats and nicest underwear.

From here on out, there will be some types of houses that are smaller in size compared to some public houses we’ve covered above, yet cost up to double the price.

As a general understanding, it is due to certain factors - residents valuing privacy, access to facilities, location etc.

Get ready, we’re entering fancy land.

Patrick Star raising his pinky;

  1. Walk-Up Apartments

    Walk-ups are quite unknown in Singapore.
    Either you haven’t heard of them, or you just assumed they were 4-storey HDB flats.

    Walk-ups are older apartments, and are typically low-levelled because there is no elevator access and you gotta walk up the stairs, hence the name.

    Unlike other housing where you pay more for higher floors, you pay more for the lower-floor unit because it is more accessible.

    A shot of a walk-up apartment


    The reason why walk-ups are considered private is because most of them are a freehold lease.

    • Freehold lease means the unit and land belongs to the owner indefinitely.

    Rooms included: 1 Master bedroom (w/ ensuite bathroom), 2 bedrooms, 1 common bathroom, 1 kitchen, living room
    Average room size: 92-125sqm
    Where you can find these units: Older places such as Joo Chiat, Kembangan, Bendemeer

  2. Private Apartments

    In the grander scheme of things, walk-up apartments are just a type of apartment, along with studio apartments, and essentially, private apartments.

    An apartment just means 1 flat in the building.

    A private apartment then means 1 flat in a private building.

    The total plot size of a private apartment complex must be <4000sqm.
    Anything bigger than that, is known as a condominium complex.

    Think of it this way,a private apartment complex is just 1 block of a condo. And because there are way less residents as compared to an entire condominium plot, private apartments don’t usually have the availability of swimming pools/tennis courts.

    Private apartments are sought after because of the freehold/strata-titled lease they hold, meaning you own the apartment forever, and in some cases, you own a part of the land.

    Rooms included: 1 Master bedroom (w/ ensuite bathroom), 1-2 bedrooms, 1 common bathroom, 1 kitchen, living room
    Average room size: Huge range. Could be as small as 80+ sqm, to 500+sqm
    Where you can find these units: Usually prime locations

  3. (Private) Condominium

    Private condos can come about 2 ways.

    1. A private developer buys a plot of land from the Government, then constructs a private condo.
    2. An executive condominium will mature into a private condominium after 10 years.

    Needless to say, what comprises a condo is the usual shared recreational facilities, gated security, and everything else that’s been mentioned under the EC section.

    What’s different is that private condos can be built under 99-year leases, 999-year leases or freehold leases, with the third commanding the highest prices because you own that apartment indefinitely.

    Side note: Some private condos have the most bewildering architectural designs, which may confuse you as to what type of house they are. Here’s a general rule. If there’s at least one block, with recreational facilities, and it looks atas with a fancy name, it’s probably a private condo.

    A shot of EastVale Condo

    (EastVale, the very first EC built in 1999, that has been matured into a private condo)

    A shot of Interlace Condo

    (The Interlace, awarded the World Building of the Year in 2015 for its groundbreaking architecture)


Landed properties are somewhat polarizing.

Many consider them the pinnacle of housing, that you’ve accomplished a certain criteria in the checklist of Life. Others consider them a huge burden in terms of financials and maintenance, and is unnecessary in the sparse land that is Singapore.

Whichever side of the fence you may fall on, there is no denying that prices are high for landed properties because it provides privacy, spacious living conditions and unbounded modifications to your house.

  1. Terraced House

    Also known as linked houses, or row houses, terraced houses must have at least 3 units that are side-by-side-by-side, and are joined by 1 common wall.

    A aeriel shot of terraced houses

    Similar to army boys when they’re going through their passing out parade (POP), think of each row of cadets as terraced houses.

    They’re in a row, they’re uniformed (quite literally), and all look the same. Being stuck in the middle may arguably be the worst position, with cadets at the corner/edge have more room to breathe.

    This is the same for terraced houses. Corner terraced houses (the first and last house in a row) are usually higher priced because of bigger spacing, and you’re not being cramped in the middle.

    It’s like middle seats on an airplane, it’s usually cheaper …

    … sigh I miss travelling :’(

    Rooms included: 1-2 Master bedrooms (w/ ensuite bathroom), 1-2 bedrooms, 2-3 common bathrooms, 1 kitchen, living room
    Average room size: Min plot size must be 80sqm for Type 2 Corner and Intermediate units, 150sqm for Type 1 Intermediate units.
    Where you can find these units: Scattered all over Singapore. Can be seen in places like Serangoon, Springleaf and Somerset.

  2. Semi-Detached

    More commonly called the Semi-D, this is usually the point where it may start to get confusing when differentiating landed properties, but really, semi-Ds aren’t as hard as you think it is.

    Terraced houses as mentioned above, needed at least 3 units in a row. That’s because if there’s only 2 houses in a row, it’s considered a semi-D. That’s all.

    Instead of the schlong row of houses, it’s just 2 houses side-by-side.

    • Technically, these 2 semi-Ds would make up a complete detached house (we’ll discuss this later). To cater to more people, it just got cut down the middle, and it became a semi-D.

    • Also technically, a corner terrace house + its adjacent house would be considered a semi-detached terrace house. But don’t worry too much about it, it’s just an fyi.

    A shot of a semi-detached house

    (2 semi-detached houses along Eng Kong Garden. In theory, both of these houses combined would make 1 detached house)

    So imagine Mr. Willy owns 1 detached house, he could hire contractors to split that 1 house into 2 semi-detached houses, and he can sell it to Mr Dick and Mr Johnson, and everyone becomes a wiener winner.

    That’s a lot of manhood in a private area.

    Ding …. Dong ;)

    Rooms included: 1-2 Master bedrooms (w/ ensuite bathroom), 3-5 bedrooms, 2-3 common bathrooms, 1 kitchen, living room
    Average room size: Min plot size must be 200sqm
    Where you can find these units: Scattered all over Singapore. Can be seen in places like Joo Chiat, Thompson and Sixth Avenue.

  3. Cluster Houses

    A cluster house is a more atas version of condominiums.

    Instead of the usual condominium blocks, cluster houses are landed properties with common recreational facilities.

    These properties could include terraced houses, semi-detached houses or bungalows (could be a mix all of three too).

    Thus it becomes a cluster of landed houses, with access to a common pool, gym, etc.

    A shot of a cluster house

    (D'Manor Cluster house @ Tanah Merah)

    Rooms included: Depends if it's a terraced, semi-D or bungalow
    Average room size: Depends if it's a terraced, semi-D or bungalow
    Where you can find these units: Mostly in the Newton area, with a few anomalies in Yishun, Ang Mo Kio and Sixth Avenue.

  4. Townhouse

    Townhouses are a stricter version of cluster houses.

    While cluster houses can have a mix of terraced houses, semi-Ds and bungalows, townhouses tend to usually just be terraced houses.

    All townhouses are cluster houses, but not all cluster houses are townhouses.

    Townhouses still have shared recreational facilities.

    A shot of a townhouse

    (Chancery Grove. While it's a cluster house, the layout of terraced houses also makes it a townhouse)

    Rooms included: Same as Terraced houses
    Average room size: Same as Terraced houses
    Where you can find these units: Pretty uncommon to find, examples include Chancery Grove and Hillcrest Villa

  5. Shophouses

    In the age of digital and modernity, shophouses in Singapore provide a capsule of culture and history one can experience.

    A shot of shophouses

    Shophouses are essentially terraced houses, but are more colourful and its 1st floor can be used for commercial purposes.

    Shophouses are conserved houses, meaning that they can't be demolished because they’re being protected by the URA.

    At the same time, no new shophouses are being built.

    Some people thus call shophouses, conserved terraced houses.

    Due to its rarity, prices for shophouses can reach pretty high amounts. Being located in prime areas definitely helps with it as well.

    Plus, don’t be fooled by its appearance. It’s always way bigger than you expect, it’s not packin’ a lot in front but shophouses have a lot of junk in the trunk.

    Fun Fact: Renovation on shophouses is very, very restricted, because it has to maintain it’s shophouse-y exterior. There is a list of rules that you’ll have to abide by if you’re planning to jazz your shophouse up.

    Rooms included: 1 Master bedrooms (w/ ensuite bathroom), 1-2 bedrooms, 1-2 common bathrooms, 1 kitchen, spacious living room
    Average room size: ~185sqm. Can range from 148sqm to 232sqm (and above)
    Where you can find these units: Little India, Chinatown, Katong

  6. Conservation Houses

    Conservation houses are properties that are being protected and conserved, meaning they can’t be demolished.

    As we went through above, Shophouses are the most common type of Conservation houses.

    Other types of houses (that are more uncommon) fall into this category. An example of it would be colonial houses that were built a really long time ago, but are still furbished and maintained till this day.

    These houses are harder to find on property listings.

    A shot of a conservation house

    (Townerville, along the same road as the Kallang/Whampoa Feb’21 BTO)

    Rooms included: 2-3 Master bedrooms (w/ ensuite bathroom), 1-2 bedrooms, 1-2 common bathrooms, 1 kitchen, spacious living room
    Average room size: ~230sqm and above
    Where you can find these units: Duxton Hill, Emerald Hill

  7. Bungalows/Detached House

    Yeah … detached houses are more commonly known as Bungalows.

    Remember the Semi-D section above?

    2 Semi-Ds = 1 detached house (like how 2 semi-circles = 1 circle)

    They’re called ‘detached’ houses because unlike terrace houses, which are all lined up in 1 row like dominos, bungalows are standing on their own, hence, detached from anything else.

    As to why it’s more commonly known as Bungalows, and not detached houses, there’s no concrete evidence.

    My personal opinion is that I suspect the word ‘bungalow’ may have came across as more of a “higher-status”, and it became the go-to jargon that the property industry has used to market these properties.

    • Basically ‘bungalow’ sounds more atas than ‘detached houses’, thus fetching higher prices.

    This lingo has gone to a point where it has even been imported into the Malay language as ‘banglo’.

    Of course, given that a bungalow entails you your own house and land, there are tons of variations of how a bungalow may look, but the most important thing that makes it a ‘bungalow’ is that it must be within 400sqm and 1400sqm.

    A shot of a bungalow

    Rooms included: 2-3 Master bedrooms (w/ ensuite bathroom), 2-4 bedrooms, 1-2 common bathrooms, 1/2 kitchens, spacious living room, a front/backyard probably
    Average room size: Minimum plot size must be 400sqm, maximum must be 1400sqm.
    Where you can find these units: Pasir Ris, Marsiling, Sentosa Cove

  8. Good Class Bungalows (GCB)

    Alright ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived at the peak.
    Many have desired to stay here, while only few having the opportunity to.

    The crème de la crème,
    The Bianca Del Rio of RPDR,
    The Tony Valchos of Survivor,
    quite literally .. The Best of the Best.

    You know when you have a category of house that has the term ‘Good Class’ in its name, you’re bout to see some real sh*t.

    For definitions sake, what separates GCBs from those regular pleb bungalows (pfft) is the plot size.

    For bungalows, it must be within 400-1400sqm.
    Anything > 1400sqm, is considered a Good Class Bungalow.

    GCBs have so much land that at this point, it’s almost a minimum to have a swimming pool, a garden, a carpark in their plot of land. And I say this with confidence because you cannot have the house take up more than 35% of the plot size. That essentially leaves you with 65% of land to do whatever you want with it (except expand on housing).

    Furthermore, you can only have/build/see a GCB in 39 areas designated by the URA.

    It is at this point again that I have to implore, if you’re reading this and is someone who is considering buying a GCB, please feel free to contact me. I will literally be at your beck and call and dance to WAP whenever you wish.

    Just to give you a sense how big a GCB really is …

    A shot of a GCB

    (Along Bishopsgate)

    A shot of a different GCB

    (Along First Avenue)

    Rooms included: Who even knows at this point lol
    Average room size: >1400sqm
    Where you can find these units: Only in the 39 GCB areas, which includes Nassim Road, King Albert Park & Victoria Park


  1. Black & White (B&W) Houses

    No I don’t mean going for that minimalistic look when you interior design your house.

    Unique to Malaya, Black & White houses are historical colonial houses that have been built since the early 1900s.

    The reason this falls under 'Bonus' is because B&Ws are usually bungalows/GCBs that can no longer be purchased. Most of them are under the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), and you can now only rent it. Furthermore, there is a bidding process to rent it.

    While it may be hard to picture one off the top of your head, you may be surprised to find out that there are B&W houses that are scattered around different areas of Singapore.

    A shot of a colonial house

    (Adam Park)

    A shot of another colonial house

    (Kings Avenue)

Now that you know WHAT types of houses there are in Singapore, if you wanna find out more about HOW to house, check out our podcast - Hows 2 House.

Our podcast covers a variety of topics, from BTO reviews, to talking about mortgage terms (don’t worry if you’re a beginner!), to discussing property news, all in hopes of teaching How To House.

🎵: https://spoti.fi/3qK5DTj
🍎: https://apple.co/38Edrjw
🎤 (any other platform): https://bit.ly/3rOfRn7

Till next time, be good people.

Posted in WAT - What Are They on Mar 24, 2021