Apartments (also known as flats) are the most abundant type of property in Malta, obviously for the smaller footprint required for developing this type of residence. Due to the historical fractional ownership of land in Malta, many blocks may consist of just 3-6 units, but larger blocks are also found. Large new builds are often terraced for more comfort and light. Accommodation is normally laid out on one floor, two in the case of duplex apartments, or three in triplex apartments. Apartments share a common area entryway, staircase and/or lift and form part of a condominium where expenses for maintenance and cleaning of these common parts is shared by the owners of different flats in the block.
Maisonettes are similar in size and style to apartments but have one basic difference that is that a maisonette would have its main door leading directly to the outside, whereas apartments lead into a common area. For this reason, maisonette blocks are normally smaller than apartment blocks, consisting of 1, 2 or 3 units at most. Most maisonettes are located in blocks of two with one below the other having a small garden or yard and the one above enjoying full or partial use of the roof and airspace. Duplex maisonettes are laid out on two floors and are different from houses in that there is another property owned by a third party above or below. Solitary maisonettes often form part of a larger building, but with garages located on the ground floor below the residence.
The term town house refers to a standalone dwelling built around the 1940s or ‘50s, often located in the older part of the town or village. Double fronted town houses have a wider frontage or frontage on two streets. Features that are characteristic and highly sought after in townhouses include original wooden apertures, patterned tiles, and a small back garden or yard. This type of dwelling is getting harder to find as many are being demolished to make way for modern apartment blocks and garages.
Traditional Maltese farmhouses are dwellings that were once owned by farmers tending their livestock and farmland, so are typically to be found in the old villages very possibly on the outskirts of towns or villages. These could be 400-500 years old in parts or in whole and may include features such as feeding throughs, mangers and birthing rooms, wooden beams and arched ceilings. For several decades many were left in ruin until the late 80s when it became fashionable to renovate them into functional dwellings often using traditional materials such as wooden apertures and patterned tiles. Of late this trend changed to a preference for more modern materials such as steel, aluminium and concrete; creating a very specific mixture of old and new features tastefully combined with all the mod-cons included. Not all farmhouses have a garden included but most typically do and ones with larger spaces may have had a pool included.
Houses of Character
Often aged approximately 400-500 years, houses of character are similar to farmhouses but more often located in urban surroundings more than farmhouses. They could be laid out on two or more floors as opposed to farmhouses which were normally more modest and lower builds. As their name implies, houses of character are identified through the presence of traditional architectural features such as stone arches and traditional Maltese patterned tiles that add character to the property. The higher abundance of features adds desirability and value and the quality of the restoration is a very important element for the discerning buyer. Another difference from farmhouses is that houses of character often have larger windows as they would have been built as dwellings rather than houses for farmers and their livestock.
Maltese terraced houses are typically built on two floors, with a front porch area or small front garden as well as possibly a modest garden or courtyard space at the back or centrally. A garage on the frontage or side, may or may not be included. They may be semi-detached if abutting another property on one side or fully detached if standing alone without any adjacent properties next door. Many terraced houses were built in the 60s, 70s and 80s and have become much less common as the price of land increased and became more attractive for development of apartment blocks.
Maltese villas are often fully detached with expansive grounds and comfortable outdoor and indoor accommodation. Swimming pools with deck areas and entertainment spaces with barbecues areas are common in this type of house. Three or four bedrooms and a study and/or gym space, large garage, basement and such facilities are to be expected. Villas are often clustered in areas that were earmarked for development for this purpose, such as Santa Maria Estate in Mellieha, High Ridge and Madliena in Swieqi, Marsascala and Bugibba waterfronts, and many others around Malta and Gozo.
Penthouses are a kind of bungalow layout built on top of apartment blocks with all the accommodation space on the same one floor. Duplex penthouse layouts spill onto another floor below connected through an internal staircase within the property itself. The architectural requirement for the top floor of the building to be receded, lends itself superbly well for terrace spaces to enjoy the sun and many have barbecue and entertaining areas to make best use of this space. Whilst it is to be expected that top floor apartments are brighter and more airy than the ones underneath, expansive views are not always a given. Penthouses with pools or Jacuzzi tubs are becoming quite prevalent of late.