[Tagging] How to map terrace buildings with names

Paul Allen pla16021 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 7 21:14:48 UTC 2020

On Tue, 7 Jul 2020 at 21:48, Skyler Hawthorne <osm at dead10ck.com> wrote:

> But I'm starting to think that maybe this issue is coming down to
> semantics. What exactly do we mean when we say "building" vs "house"?
> The personal interpretation I am working off of is that a "building" is
> the complete physical structure, whereas a "house" in the context of
> the existing OSM tags (although maybe not in the general sense of the
> word) is the dwelling in which someone lives.

It isn't well defined. Partly because tags weren't well designed back
in the beginning and we've bodged things to fit.  Partly because reality
isn't well defined.

Consider a house.  In your understanding it is both a building and a house,
and we tag it building=house.  Now consider another house is built
adjacent and conjoining, so that they share a side wall.  Two houses
in your understanding.  If they were both built at the same time by
the same builder, we could say they were one building.  But
these were built at different times, in different styles by different
builders - one building or two?  What if they were built at
different times by different builders but in the same style so
they harmonize (without historical data you might think
they were built at the same time).

If there are three houses they are a terrace (maybe) but if there
are only two houses then they are both semi-detached buildings
(except few bother with that tag).  We've tried various ways of dealing
with these things.  Reality is messy.  Our tagging is messy.  Sadly, these
are two different messes.

i see only three cases where I'd use building=terrace

1) I want to map a row of houses from aerial imagery where I don't
know the addresses and can't precisely determine the boundaries so
don't even know how many dwellings there are.  I tend to avoid
mapping this type of situation.

2) The terrace itself has a name that is a required part of the address.
This is a horrible situation, not well-handled by any solution.  Especially
when some of those houses may have their own names.

3) The terrace has a name which is no longer part of the address.
It is at one end of what is a very long terrace of houses built at
various times and which share side walls.  The fact that five
houses were once referred to as Priory Terrace in times long
pass didn't merit wrapping them in a building=terrace.

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