(in American English) or flat (common in British English) is a self-contained housing unit (a type of residential real estate) that occupies only part of a building. Such a building may be called an apartment building, apartment house (in American English), block of flats, block, high-rise or, occasionally mansion block (in British English), especially if it consists of many apartments for rent. Apartments may be owned by an owner/occupier by leasehold tenure or rented by tenants (two types of housing tenure).
The term apartment is favored in North America (although flat is used in the case of a unit which is part of a house containing two or three units, typically one to a floor), whereas the term flat is commonly, but not exclusively, used in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong and most Commonwealth nations.
Apartment house, also called apartment block, or block of flats, building containing more than one dwelling unit, most of which are designed for domestic use, but sometimes including shops and other nonresidential features.
Some apartment buildings have high levels of security. For example, to enter a high-security building, a person must validate their smartcard at the door. In some apartments, while at the lift, the smartcard would be used again to be able to press the button for lift access. Finally, the person walks towards apartment and uses his key to unlock the entrance door. This 2- or 3-tier security will, in most cases, prevent home invasions and theft. Some buildings may have a doorman to guard the premises.
Real estate investment
The total cost for the construction of an apartment is much less than the cost invested in the construction of a single house. When the cost of a single unit in the apartment is compared to a single house of the same dimension, the difference in cost is very large. The cost of land is shared by all the owners of the apartment.
In Scandinavian countries apartment dwelling and renting through non-profit housing co-operatives is common place. Apartment users are allowed to modify the interior of the apartment to suit their wishes. Often the extended families have a shared holiday house in the countryside. The investment in real estate for a family is reduced leading to greater disposable income for quality of life.
Buildings between 4 and 7 stories have a lower energy footprint per m2 than do high-rises greater than 7 stories. There seems to be a tradeoff with many other variables in a life cycle analysis, which would suggest that 7 stories (around fifty dwelling units per hectare for optimum transport petroleum use (Kenworthy)) is the optimum density in T1 urban areas, the city of Paris being an example (Mehaffy). Buildings not requiring lifts (around 4 floors, though it could be five with a final two storey apartment (maisonette)) are normally more energy efficient. Note, this is dependent on the particular country's accessibility requirements.
High-rise buildings cast a significant shadow over nearby buildings, reducing solar energy harvesting. They also cast shadows over public spaces, reducing their amenity value, and these spaces are a very valuable resource in mid-density cities. Wind turbulence can also be a significant problem at ground level if design provisions are not made. The prevailing cooling breezes in summer can be disrupted for nearby buildings also.
APARTMENT TYPES AND CHARACTERISTICS
Apartments can be classified into several types. In North America the typical terms are a studio, efficiency or bachelor apartment (bedsit in the UK). These all tend to be the smallest apartments with the cheapest rents in a given area. This kind of apartment usually consists mainly of a large room which is the living, dining, and bedroom combined. There are usually kitchen facilities as part of this central...