What is a Mews House? Your Guide to Mews Properties

In the heart of the UK’s bustling cities and quaint towns and villages lies a unique property type steeped in history and charm: the mews house. Once serving a functional role in the urban landscape of the 17th and 18th centuries, mews houses have evolved into highly sought-after residences. This guide delves into the essence of mews properties, exploring their origins, characteristics, benefits and considerations for potential owners and investors.

What is a Mews House?

A mews house is traditionally defined as a row of stables with living quarters above them, typically set back from the street and accessed through an archway. The term ‘mews’ refers to the royal stables near Charing Cross in London, where the king’s hawks were kept during moulting (mew) season, hence the name. However, today, what is a mews has transcended its original definition to encompass a broader range of properties, often characterised by their secluded settings, communal courtyards and distinct architectural styles.

What Makes a Mews House?

Mews houses are distinguished by several key features:

  • Location: Nestled in quiet, often cobbled, streets or courtyards.
  • Layout: Compact and efficient, with living spaces typically spread over two or three floors.
  • Architecture: A blend of historic charm and modern luxury, with many retaining original features such as stable doors and exposed beams.

Why are Houses Called Mews?

The term ‘mews’ originates from the Royal Mews, where the king’s hawks were kept. Over time, as the need for stables in close proximity to residences grew, similar developments adopted the term and it came to denote the rows of stables with carriage houses below and living quarters above, found throughout London and other historic UK cities.

Who Built Mews Houses?

Initially, mews houses were built to serve the urban elite, providing stabling for horses and carriages near their main residences. As such, they were an integral part of the urban development of the 18th and 19th centuries, constructed by developers and architects to cater to the needs of the wealthy.

What is the Difference Between a Mews and a House?

While a traditional house typically fronts a street and may have a private garden, a mews house is usually set back from main roads, offering a more secluded living environment. Additionally, mews houses are part of a row, sharing walls with neighbours, which differs from the standalone nature of many houses.

What are the Disadvantages of Mews?

  • Limited Space: Mews houses can be compact, with limited outdoor space.
  • Privacy: Close proximity to neighbours may affect privacy.
  • Natural Light: Some mews properties, due to their original design, may suffer from limited natural light.

What are the Benefits of Living in a Mews?

Living in a mews property offers numerous advantages:

  • Character and Charm: Each mews house is unique, often brimming with historical features.
  • Community Feel: The layout of mews streets fosters a sense of community among residents.
  • Seclusion: Located off the main streets, mews offer a peaceful retreat from city life.

Is a Mews House a Good Investment?

Mews houses, with their unique blend of history, charm and exclusivity, are often considered excellent investments. Their scarcity and desirability can lead to strong price appreciation, particularly in prime urban locations.

Are Mews Houses More Expensive?

Given their historical significance and prime locations, mews houses can command higher prices compared to other property types of similar size. However, prices vary widely depending on condition, location and property market dynamics.

Are Mews Houses Small?

While traditionally compact, many mews houses have been extended or redesigned to maximise space and modern living standards. The perception of size is often offset by efficient layouts and the unique charm of these properties.

Can You Extend a Mews House?

Yes, many owners choose to extend or refurbish their mews houses to suit modern living needs. However, it’s important to note that any alterations may require planning permission, especially if the property is listed or located in a conservation area.

What is a Mews House New Build?

New build mews houses are modern interpretations of the traditional mews, offering contemporary design and comforts while often echoing the architectural cues and secluded charm of their historical counterparts.

These properties are designed to fit seamlessly into the historical context of existing mews streets or to introduce the mews concept to new developments. They are characterised by their thoughtful integration into urban or semi-urban environments, providing privacy, community and a unique living experience that bridges the past and the present.

Characteristics of New Build Mews Houses

New build mews houses typically share several defining characteristics:

  • Modern Amenities: While echoing the charm of traditional mews, new builds are equipped with modern conveniences and technologies, such as underfloor heating, modern insulation, smart home systems and energy-efficient appliances, ensuring a comfortable and sustainable living environment.
  • Architectural Nods to Tradition: These properties often incorporate elements of traditional mews architecture, such as brick facades, large windows and sometimes, the iconic stable doors, blending them with contemporary design features like open-plan living spaces, glass extensions and roof terraces.
  • Secluded Settings: True to the mews heritage, new builds are usually located in quiet, often gated, enclaves that offer a sense of privacy and exclusivity away from the hustle and bustle of main roads.
  • Community Atmosphere: Like their historical counterparts, new build mews developments often foster a strong sense of community among residents. Their design encourages interaction within shared spaces while maintaining individual privacy.

Benefits of New Build Mews Houses

New build mews houses offer a unique set of advantages for homeowners:

  • Low Maintenance: Being newly constructed, these properties require minimal initial maintenance, allowing owners to enjoy the benefits of mews living without the upkeep concerns associated with older buildings.
  • Energy Efficiency: Modern construction techniques and materials make new build mews houses more energy-efficient, leading to lower utility bills and a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Customisation: Buying a new build often allows for a degree of customisation, enabling buyers to personalise finishes and layouts to suit their tastes and needs.
  • Warranty and Peace of Mind: New builds typically come with warranties, such as the NHBC 10-year warranty in the UK, offering peace of mind regarding the structural integrity and construction quality of the property.

Considerations for Buyers

While new build mews houses offer many benefits, potential buyers should consider a few factors:

  • Premium Pricing: New builds often command a premium price compared to older properties, reflecting their modern specifications and turnkey readiness.
  • Development Character: The character of a new mews development can vary significantly from traditional mews streets, which may influence the property’s appeal and long-term value.
  • Planning and Regulations: New developments may face stricter planning and building regulations, especially in conservation areas, which can impact the design and timeline of the project.

A mews house new build represents a fusion of historical charm and modern living. It offers a contemporary take on a classic concept, providing homeowners with a unique, energy efficient and stylish living space. As with any property purchase, careful consideration of the location, design, and financial implications will ensure that buyers make an informed decision that aligns with their lifestyle and investment goals.

Are Mews Houses a Good Buy To Let Investment?

Mews houses, with their distinctive charm and historical significance, present an opportunity for buy-to-let investors. The unique appeal of these properties can offer several advantages in the rental market, but, as with any investment, there are factors to consider ensuring a wise decision.

Advantages of Mews Houses as Buy-to-Let Investments

  • High Demand: The unique characteristics of mews houses, such as their privacy, historical features and often prime locations, can attract a broad spectrum of tenants. From professionals seeking a quiet, centrally located home to small families or couples drawn by the charm and community feel, the demand for these properties can lead to fewer vacancies and potentially higher rental yields.
  • Premium Rents: Due to their rarity, architectural merit and often desirable locations, mews houses can command premium rental prices. Tenants are often willing to pay more for the distinctiveness, privacy and the sense of community these properties offer.
  • Strong Capital Appreciation: Mews houses, particularly those in sought-after areas, tend to appreciate in value over time. Their limited supply and enduring appeal can protect against market fluctuations, making them a solid long-term investment.
  • Versatility: Mews houses are versatile in their appeal, attracting not only long-term residents but also serving as excellent short-term or holiday lets, especially in cities with a robust tourist market. This flexibility can allow investors to maximise returns based on market conditions and personal investment strategies.

Considerations for Buy-to-Let Investors

  • Initial Investment: The unique appeal and prime locations of mews houses often come with a higher initial purchase price compared to other types of properties. Investors should ensure that the potential rental income justifies the initial outlay.
  • Maintenance Costs: Depending on the age and condition of the mews house, maintenance costs can be higher than those for more modern properties. It’s essential to factor in the cost of upkeep, especially if the property retains many original features.
  • Regulatory and Planning Restrictions: Some mews houses may be listed or located in conservation areas, potentially limiting the scope for modifications or extensions and affecting the time and cost involved in maintaining or upgrading the property.
  • Market Specificity: While mews houses can be highly desirable, their appeal might be more pronounced in certain markets or geographical areas. Investors should research the local rental market to ensure there is a strong demand for such properties.

Strategic Investment Tips

  • Location, Location, Location: Prioritise mews houses in well-established or up-and-coming areas with good transport links, amenities and a strong rental market.
  • Know Your Tenant Base: Tailor your property to meet the needs and preferences of the target tenant demographic, whether that’s professionals, families, or short-term holiday makers.
  • Consider Professional Management: Given the unique characteristics and potential complexities of managing a mews house, investors may benefit from professional property management services to handle maintenance, tenant relations, and legal compliance.
  • Stay Informed: Keep abreast of changes in local property regulations, market trends and potential developments that could affect the desirability or value of your investment.

Mews houses can be an excellent buy-to-let investment, offering the potential for high rental yields, strong capital growth and a stable demand. However, success requires careful consideration of the purchase price, ongoing costs, and market dynamics. With the right strategy and due diligence, investing in a mews property can be a rewarding addition to a real estate portfolio.

Mews houses embody a rich tapestry of history, character, and modern luxury, making them a coveted choice for homeowners and investors alike. Whether drawn to their architectural charm, community atmosphere or investment potential, acquiring a mews property is a unique opportunity to own a piece of the UK’s urban heritage. If you’re considering buying or investing in a mews house, Belvoir Estate Agents are here to guide you through every step of the process, ensuring you find the perfect mews to call home. Contact us today to explore our exclusive listings and embark on your journey to mews ownership.