House types

 

Residential Dwellings Can be Built
in a Large Variety of Configurations

A basic division is between free-standing or detached dwellings and various types of attached or multi-user dwellings. Both sorts may vary greatly in scale and amount of accommodation provided. Although there appear to be many different types, many of the variations listed below are purely matters of style rather than spatial arrangement or scale. Some of the terms listed are only used in some parts of the English speaking world.

Detached dwellings / single-unit housing

Main article: Single-family detached home ...
  • A-frame, so-called because of the appearance of the structure, namely steep roofline
  • Addison house, a type of low-cost house with a concrete floor and cavity walls of concrete blocks, built in the UK between 1920 and 1921 Airey house, a type of low-cost house developed in the UK in the 1940s by Sir Edwin Airey, recognizable by its precast concrete columns and walls of precast ship-lap concrete panels
  • Art-Decco
  • Bay-and-gable
  • Bungalow, a single-story house without a basement
  • California bungalow The style, often called the California Bungalow, was most popular between 1900 and 1920 and evolved into the Craftsman movement
  • Cape Cod, popular in the Northeastern United States
  • Cape Dutch, popular in the Western Cape, South Africa
  • Castle, primarily a defensive structure dating from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century
  • Chalet bungalow, popular in England, a combination of a house and a bungalow
  • Chattel house, a small wooden house occupied by working-class persons in Barbados
  • Colonial house, a traditional style of house in the United States
  • Conch House, a traditional style of house in the southern United States
  • Contempory, You know them by their odd-sized and often tall windows and their lack of ornamentation
  • Cottage, usually a small country dwelling, but weavers' cottages are three-storied townhouses with the top floor reserved for the working quarters.
  • Craftsman a house reduced to it’s simplest form... its low, broad proportions and absolute lack of ornamentation
  • Creole cottage, a type of house native to the Gulf Coast of the United States, roughly corresponding to the location of the former settlements of French Louisiana
  • Deck House, custom-built post and beam homes using high-quality woods and masonry
  • Detached (free-standing), any house that is completely separated from its neighbors
  • Dogtrot, two buildings connected by a breezeway
  • Dutch Colonial, This American style originated in homes built by German, or “Deutsch” settlers in Pennsylvania
  • Earth sheltered, using earth against building walls for external thermal mass, to reduce heat loss, and to maintain easily a steady indoor air temperature
  • Farmhouse, the main residence on a farm
  • Faux chateau (1980s - 90s), inflated U.S. suburban house with non-contextual
  • Federal, Many Federal-style homes have an arched Palladian window on the second story above the front door
  • Foursquare house
  • French Provential, The design had its origins in the style of rural manor homes, or chateaus, built by the French nobles
  • Gablefront house (or Gablefront cottage) A vernacular house type which has a gable roof facing the street.
  • Gambrel, also known as Dutch Gambrel
  • Geodesic dome, pioneered by Buckminster Fuller Hawksley BL8 bungalow, aluminium-clad timber-framed house build in the UK in the 1950s
  • Georgian, Georgian homes are refined and symmetrical with paired chimneys and a decorative crown over the front door.
  • Gothic Revival, These picturesque structures are marked by "Gothic" windows with distinctive pointed arches; exposed framing timbers; and steep, vaulted roofs
  • Greek Revival, Identify the style by its entry, full-height, or full-building width porches, entryway columns sized in scale to the porch type
  • I-house, a traditional British folk house, became popular in middle and southern U.S. Colonies
  • Igloo, constructed of ice
  • Indian vernacular
  • International, The style was molded from modern materials--concrete, glass, and steel--and is characterized by an absence of decoration
  • Italianate, Can be quite ornate despite their solid square shape
  • Konak, a type of Turkish home in the Ottoman Empire
  • Link-detached, adjacent detached properties that do not have a party wall, but are linked by the garage(s) so forming a single frontage
  • Linked, rowhouse or semi-detached house that is linked only at the foundation. Above ground, it appears as a detached house. Linking the foundations reduces cost.
  • Log cabin, a house built of unsquared timbers
  • Lustron house, a type of prefab house
  • Mansion, a very large detached house
  • McMansion, a formulaic, inflated suburban house with references to historical styles of architecture
  • Manufactured home
  • Mews property. A mews is an urban stable-block that has been converted into residential properties. The houses are converted into ground floor garages with a small flat above which used to house the ostler.
  • Microhouse, a dwelling that fulfils all the requirements of habitation (shelter, sleep, cooking, heating, toilet) in a highly compact space. Very common in Japan. See external links , and  for examples of microhouses.
  • Microapartment, popular in Japan, single room containing kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living space in one place (usually on many floors)
  • Monolithic dome, a structure cast in one piece over a form, usually of concrete
  • Monterey, The style updates Larkin's vision of a New England Colonial with an Adobe brick exterior
  • Mudhif, a traditional reed house made by the Madan people of Iraq.
  • The interior of an Iraqi mudhifOctagon house, a house of symmetrical octagonal floor plan, popularized briefly during the 19th century by Orson Squire Fowler
  • National, National-style homes remain unadorned and utilitarian
  • Neoclassical Its identifying Ionic or Corinthian columned porches often extend the full height of the house.
  • Patio home
  • Pole house, a timber house in which a vertical poles carry the load of the suspended floors and roof, allowing all the walls to be non-load bearing.
  • Prairie, Frank Lloyd Wright, America's most famous architect, designed the first Prairie-style house
  • Prefab, a house where the main structure is prefabricated (common after WWII)
  • Pueblo, characterized by flat roofs, parapet walls with round edges, earth-colored stucco or adobe-brick walls
  • Queen Anne, A sub-style of the late Victorian era, Queen Anne is a collection of coquettish detailing and eclectic materials
  • Queenslander, a house most commonly built in the tropics of Australia. Raised on stumps to allow airflow underneath and with a wide verandah partially if not fully around the house.
  • Ranch, a single-story house, usually with garage and basement
  • Regency, Although they borrow from the Georgian's classic lines, Regency homes eschew ornamentation
  • Roundhouse, a type of house with a circular plan, built in Western Europe prior to the Roman occupation
  • Saltbox, a style of house popular in colonial New England
  • Sears house, owner-built "kit" houses sold by Sears, Roebuck and Co. through its catalog division from 1906 to 1940
  • Second Empire Victorian style that was fashionable for public buildings during Ulysses S. Grant's presidency
  • Shack, a small, usually rundown, wooden building
  • Shed, Particular favorites of architects in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Shingle, Shingle homes borrow wide porches, shingles, and asymmetrical forms from the Queen Anne.
  • Shotgun, a popular style of house in the Southern United States from the end of the Civil War (1861–65) through to the 1920s
  • Souterrain, an earth dwelling typically deriving from Neolithic or Bronze Age times
  • Spanish Eclectic, Most common in the Southwest and Florida, Spanish-style architecture takes its cues from the missions of the early Spanish missionaries
  • Split-level house, a style popular in the 1950s and 1960s
  • Splits
    • Backsplit, multilevel house that appears as a bungalow from the front elevation
    • Frontsplit, multilevel house that appears as a two-story house in front and a bungalow in the back. It is the opposite of a backsplit and is a rare configuration.
    • Sidesplit, multilevel house where the different levels are visible from the front elevation.
  • Stick, You'll find traditional sticks in the Northeast and their sister, the Western Stick, in California
  • Stilt houses or pile dwellings, houses raised on stilts over the surface of the soil or a body of water
  • Snout house, a house with the garage door being the closest part of the dwelling to the street
  • Storybook houses, 1920s houses inspired by Hollywood set design
  • Tipi
  • Treehouse, a house built among the branches or around the trunk of one or more mature trees and does not rest on the ground
  • Trullo, a traditional Apulian stone dwelling with conic roof
  • Tudor, the style of architecture and decorative arts modeled on the original Tudor architecture produced in England between 1485 and 1603.
  • Mock Tudor, a modern emulation of Tudor architecture
  • Underground home, an underground dwelling
  • Unit, a type of medium-density housing found in Australia and New Zealand
  • Unity house, a type of low-cost dwelling built in the UK in the 1940s and 1950s, with walls of stacked concrete panels between concrete pillars. About 19,000 were constructed.
  • Vernacular house, house constructed in a native manner, close to nature, using the materials locally available

  • Example of an early Victorian "Gingerbread House" Charles E. Owen home. Built at a cost of $10,000, it was completed in February 1890

    Example of a duplex. The duplex often looks like two houses put together"
  • Victorian house, These homes combine modern materials with 19th century details, such as curved towers and spindled porches.
  • Villa, originally an upper-class country house, though since its origins in Roman times the idea and function of a villa has evolved considerably
  • Wimpey house, a low-cost house built in the UK from the 1940s onwards. The walls are of no-fines concrete. About 300,000 were constructed.
  • Yaodong, a dugout used as an abode or shelter in north China, especially on the Loess Plateau

Semi-detached dwellings

Main article: Semi-detached
  • Duplex: Commonly refers to two separate residences, attached side-by-side, but is sometimes used to mean stacked apartments on two different floors (particularly in urban areas such as New York and San Francisco). (See Two decker) The duplex often looks like two houses put together or as a large single home, and both legally and structurally, literally shares a wall between halves. The duplex home can appear as a single townhouse section with two different entrances, though the occasional rare duplex with a shared common entrance and entry hall have been constructed. The terms 'triplex' and 'four-plex' can refer to similar structures with three or four units, or floors if referring to apartments, and again the characteristic sharing of structural walls, as are the Townhouse and Six pack forms that adapted the savings in materials and costs of a shared load bearing wall.


  • Two family home or Two family house —generic U.S. real estate term for a small apartment house or duplex house containing two dwelling units. In advertisements, Two family home is generally used properly meaning Two decker (A Double decker building plan), since real estate advertising generally will specify correctly when the two family home is a duplex house type as such are much more desirable as both rentals or purchases.


  • Semi-detached: two houses joined together; compare duplex.

Attached dwellings / multi-unit housing

Main article: Multi-family residential Specific terms under various United States laws dealing with fair housing, honesty in advertising and so forth have been proscribed and engender specific legal meanings. For example, under United States codes, "apartment" specifically must contain both a kitchen, bathing facilities and sleeping accommodations, or else the term may not be used. This generates an occasional difference within the English speaking world, and terms such as "Single family", "Two family", or "Three Family" building, residence, house, home, or property which are generic and convey little or no building plan (style of building) information. Such terminology is most common in the advertising and real estate markets offering leaseholds in such units or sales of such buildings.
    Apartment: a relatively self-contained housing unit in a building which is often rented out to a one (including the head(s) of a family), or two or more people sharing a lease in a partnership, for their exclusive use. Sometimes called a flat or digs. Some locales have legal definitions of what constitutes an apartment.
In some places 'apartment' denotes a building that was built of such units, while 'flat' denotes a unit in a building built originally as a single-family house and later subdivided into a multiunit house type.-
  • Apartment building: a multi-unit dwelling made up of several (generally four or more) apartments. (Contrast with two family house and Three family
  • Apartment tower, block of flats or tower block: a high-rise apartment building
  • Aul: a type of fortified village found throughout the Caucasus mountains, especially in Dagestan.
  • Barracks, a type of military housing, formerly connoting a large "open bay" with rows of bunk beds and attached bath room facilities, but in the most recent four or five decades in the United State armed forces, are most times excepting boot camps, a dormitory layout for two to four occupants. The apartment styling and extra privacy was found to aid retention of trained personnel in volunteer based professional (non-draft dependent) military branches.
  • Brownstone, a North-eastern United States type of housing unit: see row house
  • Bedsit (Mess): A UK expression (short for bed-sitting room) for a single-roomed dwelling which usually contains very sparse furniture and is very compact in design. Literally a bed and a place to sit.
  • Choultry: a South-Indian Hindu-Caravanserai.
  • Condominium: a form of ownership of an individual apartment and a percentage of common areas
  • Co-op (or Housing cooperative): a form of ownership in which a non-profit corporation owns the entire apartment building or development and residents own shares in the corporation that correspond to their apartment and a percentage of common areas
  • Flat: in the U.K., an apartment; in San Francisco, an apartment taking up an entire floor of a house, usually a converted Victorian house.
  • 2-Flat, 3-Flat, and 4-Flat houses: Houses or buildings with 2, 3, or 4 flats, respectively, especially when each of the flats takes up one entire floor of the house. There is a common stairway in the front and often in the back providing access to all the flats. 2-Flats and sometimes 3-flats are common in certain older neighborhoods.
  • Railroad apartment (or railroad flat): a type of apartment that is in a building built on a very narrow lot (usually about as wide as a railroad car, or Pullman car sections thereof).
  • Garden Apartment: a building style usually characterized by two story, semi-detached buildings, each floor being a separate apartment.
  • Garden flat: a flat which is at garden (ground) level in a multilevel house or apartment building, especially in the case of Georgian and Victorian terraced housing which has been sub-divided into separate dwellings.
  • Ksar: a village consisting of generally attached houses, widespread among the oasis populations of the Maghreb (northern Africa.)
  • Housing project: A North American term for government-owned housing for low-income tenants (aka public housing or social housing)
  • Maisonette: an apartment / flat on two levels with internal stairs, or which has its own entrance at street level.
  • Mess: A building or flat with single bedroom per tenant and shared facilities like toilets and kitchens. These are popular with students, bachelors or low wage earners in the Indian subcontinent. It is similar to the bedsit in the UK. Some variants include multiple tenants per bedroom and inclusion of a centralized maid service or cooked meals with tenancy.
  • Penthouse: The top floor of multi-story building
  • Plattenbau (East German) / Panelák (Czech, Slovak) - a communist-era tower block that is made of slabs of concrete put together.
  • Studio apartment or bachelor apartment or efficiency apartment: a suite with a single room that doubles as living/sitting room and bedroom, with a kitchenette and bath squeezed in off to one side. The unit is designed for a single occupant or possibly a couple. Especially in Canada and South Africa, also called bachelor, or bachelorette if very small.
  • Tenement a multi-unit dwelling usually of frame construction, quite often brick veneered, made up of several (generally many more than four to six) apartments (i.e. an large apartment building) that can be up to five stories. Tenements do not generally have elevators. In the United States the connotation sometimes implies a run-down or poorly-cared-for building. It nearly always means a very large apartment building usually constructed during the late nineteenth to early twentieth century era sited in cities or company towns.
  • Loft or warehouse conversion can be an apartment building wherein part of the unit, usually consisting of the bedroom(s) and/or a second bedroom level bath is sub-divided vertically within the structurally tall bay between the structural floors of a former factory or warehouse building. The lofts created in such are locally supported by columns and bearing walls and not part of the overall original load bearing structure.
  • Garage-apartment: An apartment over a garage; if the garage is attached, the apartment will have a separate entrance from the main house.
  • Garalow: a portmateau word garage+bungalow; similar to a garage-apartment, but with the apartment and garage at the same level.
  • Mother-in-law apartment: Small apartment either at the back, in the basement, or on an upper level subdivision of the main house, usually with a separate entrance (also known as a "granny flat" in the UK, Australia and New Zealand). If it is a separate structure from the main house, it is called a 'granny cottage' or a 'doddy house.' Such Secondary suites are often efficiency or two room apartments but always have kitchen facilities (which is usually a legal requirement of any apartment).
  • four-plus-one: an large apartment building usually without an elevator that has four floors of apartments on top of parking. It was particularly popular in Chicago during the 1960s and 1970s, especially on the city's north side. (National Fire Codes in the USA and real estate law require any five story dwelling structure to have an elevator.)
  • Rooming house: a type of Single Room Occupancy building where most washing, kitchen and laundry facilities are shared between residents, which may also share a common suite of living rooms and dining room, with or without board arrangements. When board is provided (no longer common), a common dining time and schedule is imposed by the landlord who in such cases also serves as an innkeeper of sorts. In Australia and the United States, any housing accommodation with 4 or more bedrooms can be regarded as a rooming house if each bedroom is subject to individual tenancy agreements. In the U.S., rooming house lease agreements typically run for very short periods, usually week to week, or a few days at a time. Transient housing arrangements for longer term tenancies are implemented by a "rider" on a case by case basis, if local laws permit.
  • Rowhouse: (USA); also called "terraced home (USA); also called "townhouse"; ": 3 or more houses in a row sharing a "party" wall with its adjacent neighbour. In New York and Boston, "Brownstones" are rowhouses. Rowhouses are typically multiple stories. The term townhouse is currently coming into wider use in the UK, but terraced house (not "terraced home") is more common.
  • Shophouse: the name given in Southeast Asia to a terraced two to five storey urban building featuring a shop or other public activity on the street level, with residential accommodation on upper floors.
  • Six-pack: In New England (USA), this refers to a stick-built block of 6 apartments comprising (duplexed) two three story Triple deckers built side by side sharing one wall, a common roof, lot, yards (lawns and gardens, if any), parking arrangements, and basement, but possessing separately metered electric, and separate hot water and heating or air conditioning. In Australia, it refers to a style of apartments that were constructed during the 1960s, 70s and early 80s, usually comprising a single, masonry-built block containing 4 to 8 walk-up apartments (though sometimes, many more), of between 2 and 3 stories in height, with car parking at the side or rear.
  • Single Room Occupancy or SRO: A studio apartment, usually occurring with a block of many similar apartments, intended for use as public housing. They may or may not have their own washing, laundry, and kitchen facilities. (In the United States, lack of kitchen facilities prevents use of the term "apartment", so such would be classified as a boarding house or hotel.
  • Terraced house: Since the late 18th century is a style of housing where (generally) identical individual houses are conjoined into rows - a line of houses which abut directly on to each other built with shared party walls between dwellings whose uniform fronts and uniform height created an ensemble that was more stylish than a "rowhouse". However this is also the UK term for a "rowhouse" regardless of whether the houses are identical or not.
    • Back-to-back: Terraced houses which also adjoin a second terrace to the rear. They were a common form of housing for workers during the Industrial Revolution in England.
  • Townhouse: also called rowhouse (US). In the UK, a townhouse is a traditional term for an upper class house in London (in contrast with country house), and is now coming into use as a term for new terraced houses, which are often three stories tall with a garage on the ground floor.
    • Stacked townhouse: Units are stacked on each other; units may be multilevel; all units have direct access from the outside.
  • Three family home or Three family house —U.S. real estate and advertising term for several configurations of apartment classed dwelling buildings including:
  • Triple decker: a three-family apartment house, usually of frame construction, in which all three apartment units are stacked on top of one another. (For additional characteristics, also see Multifamily home features below.)
  • Two decker: a two family house consisting of stacked apartments that frequently have similar or identical floor plans. Some two deckers, usually ones starting as single family homes, have one or both floors sub-divided and are therefore three or four-family dwellings. Some have external stairways giving a totally separate entrance, and some, usually those which have been a single family house now sub-divided, are similar to the Maisonette plan but sharing a common external 'main entrance' door and lock, and a main internal hall with stairways letting to the separate apartments. (For additional characteristics, also see Multifamily home features below.)
Multifamily home features
  • Tenants usually have some portion of the basement and/or common attic
  • Fire regulations aggressively require a separate emergency egress for all apartments under U.S. laws and national fire codes.
  • Utilities are either paid as part of the rent, or (now predominant) the units have separately provided heat, air conditioning, electric service distribution panels and meters, and sometimes (uncommonly) water metering, separating all secondary housing costs by rental unit. Common lighting may or may not be off a separate meter and circuitry in subdivided former single family dwellings.
  • leasehold documents will specify other common factors such as specific parking rights, rights to common spaces such as lawn and gardens on the premises, storage or garage (usually a detached unit, that cannot economically be converted into an additional housing unit) facilities and details such as who has responsibility for upkeep, snow removal, lawn care, and so forth.
  • Unit A type of Medium-density housing found in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Vatara: A housing complex, mainly found in urban Karnataka, India, similar to an apartment complex, but with mostly two stories and houses in a row on each floor.

Movable dwellings

  • Houseboat, a floating home on a water surface
  • Mobile home
  • Park home: Also called mobile home, it is a prefabricated house that is manufactured off-site.
  • Tent, usually a lightweight, moveable structure
  • Travel trailer (alternative to caravan in British English)
  • Yurt, used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia

See also

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