Last edited 05 Oct 2020

Dwellinghouse definition

See also: Types of dwelling


[edit] Approved document B definition

Approved document B, Fire Safety, Volume 2, Buildings other than dwellinghouses (2019 edition), defines a dwellinghouse as:

'... a unit where one or more people live (whether or not as a sole or main residence) in either of the following situations.

  • A single person or people living together as a family.
  • A maximum of six people living together as a single household, including where care is provided for residents.'

NB 'Dwellinghouse' does not include a flat or a building containing a flat, whereas 'dwelling' includes a dwellinghouse and a flat.

[edit] Approved document L1A definition

Approved document L1A, Conservation of fuel and power in new dwellings suggests that the word ‘dwelling’ means:

‘...a self-contained unit designed to accommodate a single household.‘

It notes that ‘…buildings exclusively containing rooms for residential purposes, such as nursing homes, student accommodation and similar, are not dwellings

[edit] Approved document M2 definition

Approved document M, Volume 2: Buildings other than dwellings, suggests that the term 'dwelling' means:

'...a house or a flat. However, new blocks of flats built as student accommodation are to be treated as though they are hotel/motel accommodation in respect of space requirements and internal facilities.'

[edit] UK Census definition

The UK Census identifies types of dwelling as; houses, bungalows, flats, maisonettes and bedsits.

The 2001 Census definition of a dwelling is:

'a self-contained unit of accommodation. Self-containment is where all the rooms (including kitchen, bathroom and toilet) in a household’s accommodation are behind a single door which only that household can use. Non-self contained household spaces at the same address should be counted together as a single dwelling. Therefore a dwelling can consist of one self-contained household space or two or more non-self-contained household spaces at the same address.

'Ancillary dwellings (eg former ‘granny annexes’) are included provided they are self-contained, pay separate council tax from the main residence, do not share access with the main residence (eg a shared hallway) and there are no conditional restrictions on occupancy.'

For more information see:, Definitions of general housing terms.

[edit] English Housing Survey

The English Housing Survey Housing Stock Report, 2014-15, prepared by the Department of Communities and Local Government, defines a dwelling as:

'A unit of accommodation which may comprise one or more household spaces (a household space is the accommodation used or available for use by an individual household).'

A dwelling may be classified as shared or unshared. A dwelling is shared if:

Dwellings that do not meet these conditions are unshared dwellings.

This definition was repeated in the English Housing Survey, Profile and condition of the English housing stock, 2018-19, Published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government in August 2020.

[edit] Construction Act

The Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (HGRA - also known as the Construction Act) suggests that “dwelling” means: ‘…a building or part of a building occupied or intended to be occupied as a separate dwelling, together with any yard, garden, outhouses and appurtenances belonging to it or usually enjoyed with it.’

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

Designing Buildings Anywhere

Get the Firefox add-on to access 20,000 definitions direct from any website

Find out more Accept cookies and
don't show me this again