If you’re actively looking for a home to buy, then you know how confusing the hunt for a house can be. You might have a picture-perfect idea in your head, but you can’t describe exactly what you’re looking for. Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve gathered a list of structural and architectural home types to help you define your dream home.
People live in homes of all different shapes and sizes. We’ve compiled a list of the most common structural house types below to help you better define what you’re looking for in your home search.
Single-family homes are freestanding residential buildings. A single-family home doesn’t share a wall with another building. A single-family home owner typically owns the building and the land that the building sits on.
A semi-detached home is a single-family dwelling that shares one common wall. Unlike a townhome, where you may have a neighbor on both sides of your home, semi-detached homes share only one wall, and the home design is typically a mirror of each dwelling.
A multifamily home is a residential property that is comprised of more than one housing unit. Each unit will likely have their own main entrance, kitchen space and bathroom.
Townhomes are multifloor homes with their own entrance, bathroom and kitchen space. Townhomes share two walls with neighbors unless the townhome is located at the end of a building. In some markets, the terms “townhome” and “townhouse” are used interchangeably.
An apartment is a unit inside of a building structure comprised of similarly styled individual units. A tenant rents an apartment from a landlord, so the tenant isn’t building any equity while paying rent. While lease agreements vary, many landlords are responsible for making repairs and upgrades to the leased unit. Some apartment communities include common area amenities like a laundry room, gym or pool.
Condominiums, or condo for short, are buildings made up of individual units that are owned. They can look and feel like an apartment building or community. Unlike an apartment, a condo owner owns the interior space of their unit and is building equity with every mortgage payment. The common area is usually managed by a homeowners association, with fees being assessed to homeowners for common area expenses.
A co-op may look like an apartment or condominium building physically, but on paper, a co-op is very different. People who invest in the co-op are called shareholders. Shareholders who live in the co-op are given a proprietary lease that gives them the right to live in a specific unit in the building.
Co-op housing is typically owned by a cooperative corporation. A co-op owner is a shareholder of a corporation, and the corporation owns and manages the building. The cooperative corporation is run by a board of directors who are elected by the shareholders and are responsible for common area maintenance and repair.
What is a tiny house? Tiny homes are homes 60 – 400 square feet in size. Since becoming popular, tiny homes come in a wide range of styles. Many are prefabricated with custom interior and exterior features and benefits that can make tiny living livable.
Mobile homes are also referred to as manufactured homes are built in factories, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Manufactured homes are affixed to a permanent chassis with wheels. Manufactured homes can be installed in both permanent and temporary locations.
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Travel across America and you’ll find an incredible variety of architectural styles represented. As you search for your new home, take note of the home styles you prefer. The descriptions below could be helpful in articulating just what you’re looking for in your new home.
In the late 1930s, after World War II, soldiers were ready to come home and start a family and the demand for affordable, quality homes skyrocketed.
Ranch-style homes are built with accessibility and flexibility in mind. Many are built horizontally with each room easily interchangeable with the next. A large family room can easily become a home school classroom by adding French doors. Or a bedroom into a home office.
The Cape Cod-style home originated from the Cape Cod area in the mid-1600s. Originally designed to withstand incredibly harsh New England winters, homes featured heavy shutters that could be closed to protect windows and keep drafts down during heavy storms.
Original Cape Cod homes featured a central fireplace linked to chimneys throughout the home to heat separate areas of the home more efficiently. Modern Cape Cods have decorative shutters and fireplaces placed at the end of the home as opposed to the center of the home.
Like the Cape Cod, Colonial-style homes were built out of necessity. Weather along the Eastern seaboard can be tough and cold. Central fireplaces, separate rooms and relatively low ceilings retained heat efficiently. Early colonists brought with them their own architectural twist from the countries they left. We now have different variations of colonial style homes like the Georgian, Dutch and Spanish Colonial styles to name a few.
Though their roots were planted in the 17th century, traditional and modern colonial-style homes can be identified by their unique use of soothing symmetry. Exterior windows, doors and columns on one side of the home are often mirrored on the other side. Other features include a square symmetrical façade, evenly spaced multipaned windows with shutters and fireplaces with evenly proportioned chimneys.
When calling a house a Victorian-style home, “Victorian” is actually referring to the time period from the 1830s to 1900. The home’s architectural style is called a Queen Anne. Victorian era homes are large structures with ornate woodwork and large wraparound porches. The paint and decor span the spectrum of design.
Original Victorian era-style homes were often brightly painted with no shortage of unique features like turrets, verandas and multipurpose rooms for the busy family.
Steeply pitched roofs of irregular shape with a dominant front-facing wide gable Ornate woodwork and textured shingles with decorative wooden brackets and clapboard siding An asymmetrical porch one story high that extends around the front or the front and sides of the house Some homes have combinations of up to eight exterior colors The home’s interior often contains high ceilings and deep archways between rooms, with small rooms divided up by their use: a formal dining room, a small library, a parlor, a formal living room and so on
Like some of the other home architectural styles we’ve discussed, the Tudor home originated in England. Tudor-style homes feature multigabled roofs and half-timber framing. It was a highly sought-after home style prior to World War II; however, after the war many wanted a more modern American-style home.
The Mediterranean style draws from countries like Greece, Spain and Italy. These homes are typically built with a stucco exterior with large arched windows and red clay roof tiles. Spanish settlers in the Southwest during the 16th century took advantage of the thick clay walls to maintain cooler temperatures in the desert heat. In the 1920s, Americans became fascinated with this distinctive style, and it soon took off in popularity.
A flat or low-pitched tile roof, often red, with warm-colored stucco finishing Many homes include extensive outdoor living areas or verandas, second-floor balconies, and large open seating areas to allow for air flow throughout the home Balconies and large arched windows are surrounded by wrought-iron railings and details
Contemporary and modern are often used interchangeably when discussing architecture, but they are quite different. “Modern” refers to a period that has already passed, where “contemporary” refers to now. Many contemporary homes are built with eco-friendly materials and a design focus on clean lines and natural textures.
Clean, simple lines Neutral colors and natural textures
A new home style gaining popularity is the modern farmhouse. Pulling inspiration from traditional farmhouses, modern farmhouses often feature tall ceilings, exposed beams and a large front porch. Modern farmhouse style combines the rustic feel of a farmhouse with clean lines and modern convenience.
Barn-shaped roofs, large porches Clean lines and modern functionality
During the Victorian era, young architects were tired of the European styles and wanted to create something fresh for modern American living. The prairie-style home is designed to reflect and pay homage to the surrounding environment. Made popular by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, prairie-style homes are designed to be functional, flowing and open.
Cantilevered long, flat roofs Simple and natural woodwork Open concept floorplan
The midcentury modern style is easily recognizable and most often characterized by flat straight lines, large glass windows and open spaces. The focus of midcentury modern style is its simplicity and integration with nature and the surrounding environment with an emphasis placed on form as function.
It was made popular in the mid-1950s with the work of famous architects Rudolph Schindler, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Joseph Eichler.
Bilevel floor plans with wide, flat roofs, angular details and asymmetrical features A focus on the use of floor-to-ceiling windows, walls of glass and wide-open floor plans Known for using materials like steel, plywood and concrete in the home’s construction
Split-level homes emerged from the ranch style home design of the 1950s. In a split-level home, living spaces are separated by short flights of stairs. Unlike a standard two- or three-story home connected with long flights of stairs.
Living spaces separated by short flights of stairs
Brought over from England, cottages were the home to working-class farmers. Cottage style homes are cozy and typically on the smaller side when it comes to square footage. They often feature wood or wood shingle siding, small porches, and a cozy fireplace.
In America some people purchase cottages to use as a vacation home and there are still many people who prefer the tighter quarters and personality of a cottage.
Wood shingles or siding Small living space but very cozy Individual character
French country-style houses are inspired by the gorgeous homes found in the French countryside in areas like Provence. French country homes typically have pointed roofs, shutters, incorporate stoned and have a weathered appearance. Inside you’ll find subdued color palates with worn colors and natural exposed wood grain.
Made of stone or incorporates stone elements Distressed, painted, vintage furniture and decor Lots of wood and other natural materials
The term “bungalow” can be traced back to the 19th century when the British ruling class set out to build an easily constructed rest house to use during their visits. Charles and Henry Greene are credited as early adopters of this style. A bungalow-style home typically has tapered or squared columns supporting the roof, lots of main floor living space, and a fireplace.
The simple, affordable style grew in popularity in the 1900s in America. There are several styles of bungalow – California style, Michigan style, Chicago style, ranch style – but they all refer to the same type of home.
Made of stone or incorporates stone elements Either one or one-and-a-half stories with a low-pitched roof and a horizontal shape Low eaves with exposed rafters Tapered or squared columns that support the roof Large covered front porches Most of the living spaces are on the main floor with the living room located in the center Lots of built-in cabinetry, shelves and a large fireplace with cabinetry built in on either side
A Craftsman-style home focuses on the value of handmade, well-constructed architecture. They feature beautiful hand-worked materials, exposed beams, low-pitched gable roofs and tapered columns on their porches. Inside you can find custom elements like built-in bookshelves, hand-laid fire places, and window seats.
Hand-crafted wood features Exposed beams Large square or tapered columns
Choosing the right home for your lifestyle and personal goals can be tough if you can’t articulate what you’re looking for. Take time to go over some of these home styles with your real estate agent to make sure they know exactly what you’re looking for.
If you’re ready to get on the road to homeownership, speak with a Home Loan Expert today.
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Carla is a freelance writer and Realtor® with a background in marketing, communications and property management. She attended Eastern Michigan University where she received a Bachelors in Arts Marketing and a Masters in Integrated Marketing & Communications.