Countless types of houses out there are built with different architectural designs and styles. A house is “a building for human habitation,” meaning that so long as the structure can provide shelter to human beings, it can be considered a house. That said, it is easy to imagine the countless houses out there and the different ways we use them.
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Types of Homes vs. Styles of Homes
Before getting into it, we should clarify the difference between types of houses and house styles. Types of dwellings refer to their structural components and floor plans, for example, single-family homes, apartment buildings, and condominiums.
On the other hand, house style is different from the type category. It refers to the design and aesthetics of the home, examples including French country homes, Mediterranean-style houses, or the modern farmhouse style.
10 Common types of houses
1 – Apartment Building
An apartment building is among the most common houses in the modern era. These tall structures tend to be made of concrete or bricks and have numerous levels that contain multiple housing units on every floor. Many apartment buildings differ in size, amenities, and structural design, each offering a unique vibe and a distinguished atmosphere.
2 – Basement Suite
As its name suggests, a basement suite is a housing unit built from an existing house’s basement. It is typically used as a separate residence from the main home and consists of a single-floor home with its own entrance, kitchen, bathroom, and all the amenities of a traditional house.
These types of houses have grown in popularity due to rising house prices. As a result, it’s now common to see your real estate agent recommending basement suites as an option for a new home.
3 – Condominium (Condo)
Contrary to popular belief, condominiums (commonly called condos) work differently from apartment buildings as far as the owner is involved. The critical difference is that a single entity does not own the entire condo. In contrast, a landlord typically owns an whole apartment building, meaning condos allow you, as the owner, to have complete ownership over your housing unit.
Another notable difference is that condos typically have more luxurious facilities and amenities for their inhabitants. These include gyms, swimming pools, and cafes.
4 – Duplex
A duplex is essentially a “two homes in one” type of deal, where you and your neighbor share the same building and, to an extent, the same address. These houses were made to solve the issue of dense populations and offer cheaper housing for the community.
A typical duplex looks like two houses merged in a symmetrical design. The street addresses would look like “1/20 Smith Street” and “2/20 Smith Street,” similar to the naming convention used for apartments.
5 – Mansion
Mansions are houses that exceed a certain size, usually around 8,000 square feet as of modern times. These houses come at about 3 to 4 times the standard house size, with only one family residing inside.
Mansions are for the wealthy and the royal, typically built using premium materials and featuring extravagant luxuries. These might include large water fountains, long, pleasant walking paths, and expertly crafted gardens.
6 – Mobile Home
Mobile homes, also known as portable homes or manufactured homes, refer to houses built in a factory and then transported to a location where they are suspended on a platform. These types of houses can resemble normal houses by having its platform stands concealed by bush and plants.
Types of mobile homes can also include RVs, caravans, and converted buses, and they are usually quite affordable to rent out or own.
7 – Multi Family Home
Multi-family homes contain more than one family or housing unit, consisting of two structures. They often come in duplexes or triplexes but can also feature a standard detached house with an in-built basement suite inside.
Other multi-family home styles include apartments and condo units with separated residential addresses inside e.g., Unit 1A and Unit 1B.
8 – Semi-Detached House
A semi-detached house shares many traits to a duplex, and the two terms are often used interchangeably, though it is technically incorrect to do so. The key difference is that a duplex features two structures that share one or two walls with the other. A semi-detached house also shares the same roof and is more “conjoined” than the duplex.
These house types come in many different styles and sizes, including one-story to two to three-stories tall and can be built in urban, suburban, and rural areas.
9 – Single Family House
The most common type of house, particularly in the western world, is the single-family home. These are large detached houses which, as their name suggests, are designed to house a single family and are usually single-story or double-story. Single-family homes grew in popularity in the USA following World War II when mass migrations occurred in suburban areas.
Related: How Tall Is a Two-Story House?
10 – Tiny Home
Tiny homes refer to houses around 100 to 400 square feet in size and typically house individuals or couples at most. Many tiny homes, such as caravans and RVs, are built on wheels, providing cheap living space and potential mobility.
These houses usually feature all the essential facilities and amenities, such as showers, bathrooms, kitchens, beds, and even recreational living rooms, depending on their size and style.
40 Popular house styles
1 – Bungalow
A bungalow is a one-story house, usually with a front porch slightly raised above the ground. The simplicity of its design and the fact that there are no staircases in the house makes the bungalow a popular choice among the elderly or people with limited movement.
Nowadays, the bungalow is declining due to the increased demand for more modern housing and sophisticated, contemporary homes.
2 – Cape cod
The cape cod style house is defined by its steep roof, large chimney, and cottage-like design aesthetic. They were introduced to America in the 17th Century by the Europeans and have since become a popular choice for homeowners old and new.
Modern cape cod style houses now feature double or even triple-story designs. Its increased height became a new distinctive feature of its architectural style.
3 – Carriage House
A carriage house, commonly called a coach house nowadays, was traditionally built to house carriages that horses pulled. In modern times, the extra room for horses is more often used for additional guests or as an accommodation business such as Airbnb.
In a way, carriage houses function in the same way as granny flats, though they are typically larger in size and capacity.
4 – Chalet
Chalets were once used for housing sheep and goat herders in Switzerland but have since become a popular vacation home option for holiday-seekers. They are detached homes that are designed for outdoor living and built to withstand the harsh elements of snowy blizzards. Chalets are made from wood siding and the roofs are extra steep to encourage snow to slide off.
5 – Colonial
Like the cape cod style home, colonial-style homes were also built in the 17th Century and even have quite a few similarities in design. However, colonial-style homes are distinct in that they feature a symmetrical design and are always double or triple-stories tall. They also come with grand entrances that usually have a mini stairway to the front door and pair of pillars on either side.
6 – Contemporary
Contemporary homes come with clean and simple architectural styles, neutral colors, and textures such as black, white, and grey. These housing units are made to fit at least one single-family and provide them with open living spaces, natural light, and sustainable energy.
Contemporary houses are distinguished by their silky smooth exterior walls, non-intrusive coloring schemes, and other modern features.
7 – Converted Barn
A converted barn is a farming structure converted into a residential living space. Since they used to house farm animals and large tractors, barn-style houses are often quite spacious and can fit more than a single family.
Barns are quite useful for those living in harsh weather conditions. The structure is made to withstand storms to protect livestock and farming equipment.
8 – Converted Bus/Van
A converted bus or van is a large vehicle transformed into a house for daily living. Examples of this include caravans and RVs. While typically used for camping and road trips, they are now commonly used as permanent living spaces.
The advantage of these small mobile homes is easy migration. You take all your stuff with you wherever you go, and reduced cost of living as rent and mortgage expenses are minimal or non-existent.
9 – Converted Shipping Container
Converted shipping container homes are made from existing shipping containers. They are either transformed into a home or combined with another structure as a featured expansion. This mode of living has grown in popularity over the years, particularly for its cost-efficiency, location flexibility, and design possibilities.
Many companies specialize in helping you manufacture your own shipping container home. However, some homeowners do it themselves to save even more money.
10 – Cottage
As a detached single-family home, the cottage is known for its unique cozy, and comfortable appearance. Its features originate from 20th Century English homes. They are made from brick or stone walls and come with a high thatched roof and, more often than not, one or two chimneys.
The interior is usually made with wooden floors and ceilings, and there is often a central fireplace that attaches to the cottage’s main chimney.
Nowadays, cottages are often used as vacation homes rather than permanent living spaces, though they can serve both purposes. Also, it is not uncommon to see luxury vacation homes that are grand in size referred to as cottages.
For that reason, the term has lost its original meaning as it’s now intertwined with other concepts, such as large holiday mansions.
11 – Craftsman
Craftsman house types are single-story structures similar to bungalows. However, they are unique in that they display the handmade work of the craftsmen through their wooden house exteriors. These are often showcased through the roofing, wood siding, and front porch.
The interior often features more craftsmen’s expertise through fireplaces, bookshelves, and wooden flooring.
12 – Farmhouse
A farmhouse is an architectural style built for rural living, providing shelter for farmers who manage crops and livestock. These houses are built with long and steep roofs, tall ceilings, large front porches, and often include a central fireplace too.
While farmhouses were traditionally built for farmers living in remote areas and still are today. They are now an option for suburban properties seeking rustic features.
13 – Fort
The fort is a military structure designed to protect military personnel and their families from enemy units during times of war. They are denoted by their high walls, security fences, and strongly fortified structures made of tough materials like stone or brick.
It’s quite rare to see a fort nowadays, especially among the common homeowner. However, some extremely wealthy people opt for this type of housing for added security and protection of their assets.
14 – French Country
The French Country style house types consist of steep pointed roofs and walls made of stone, often resembling a mini castle of sorts. These houses grew in popularity in America during the 18th Century as the French occupied part of the nation.
The interior design of a French Country style home often features distressed wood and other natural materials. This is part of the furniture and vintage home decor. In addition, there is often a fireplace connected to a chimney.
15 – Greek Revival
As its name suggests, Greek Revival style homes are designed to essentially “revive” the architectural home style of ancient Greece. Many of these houses resemble the Parthenon, an ancient Greek structure built in honor of the Goddess Athena. As such, Greek Revival home styles come with tall columns and pillars, pure white exteriors, and symmetrical finishes.
16 – Hut
Among the most simple home architectural styles is the hut, which is made of sticks, leaves, and dirt or mud. These houses are usually not for permanent residence but simply a temporary shelter to shield their inhabitants from the sun.
As such, huts are typically found on beaches, around coastal areas, and on small island nations such as Hawaii, Fiji, and Bali (1).
17 – Houseboat
The houseboat rests on top of a waterway, usually a harbor, river, or lake, where the water is calm and still. Otherwise known as floating residences, houseboats are usually attached to a dock or port to give their inhabitants easy access to land.
There is typically no attached garage with houseboats, but they have the common amenities you’ll find in any home. For example, bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, and living spaces.
18 – Igloo
Perhaps not the type of housing you would have expected on this list, but igloos are a viable mode of living, especially in the extremely cold weather of the Arctic. Made out of snow blocks stacked on top of one another, igloos are known for their dome-shaped structure and open entrance.
Inhabitants can start a fire in the igloo to keep themselves warm. So long as it is at a sufficient distance from the walls and an opening on the roof allows smoke to escape.
19 – In-Law Suite
An in-law suite is a basement suite built separately from a single-family home. This secondary residence provides additional living space for new tenants or relatives who may or may not pay you to stay there, depending on your agreed living arrangements.
With the real estate industry becoming increasingly expensive, many families choose to live with their in-laws or other extended family and friends. The in-law suite makes it all possible to live separately but together at a shared rental rate.
20 – Italianate
Italian architectural styles inspire the Italianate house type. It encompasses deep overhanging eaves and gently sloping roofs that promote streamlined protection against rainfall and snow.
This distinctive 19th Century architectural style is made from brick, stone, or stucco for the exterior. Usually, it comes with stunning rounded windows that make for a unique vintage design, a staple of Italian architecture.
The Italianate has decreased in popularity in the modern era due to the hassle of maintaining its structure. It requires a wide variety of materials that each need individual maintenance.
21 – Log home
A log home is a wooden house with logs stacked on top of one another. That is, they do not use planks. This is because the design aims to avoid using nuts and bolts in its architecture, promoting simplicity, flexibility, and cost-efficiency.
Throughout the 17th Century, log homes were known as small cabins. Still, nowadays, they are built extravagantly with large interiors, full-sized windows, and luxurious front door and porch setups.
22 – Longhouse
A longhouse style incorporates a narrow but lengthy house resembling a hallway or corridor, almost like a small airport hangar but not as wide. The purpose of such structures was to promote communal living for large extended families or members of royalty during ancient times.
Longhouses serve the purpose of housing groups with the same mission of working and establishing a living in the same location and nearby lands.
23 – Linked house
Linked house types are two or more houses attached in a bare minimum way. This is usually by sharing a wall or some other similar foundation. Above ground, the connection or “link” between these homes is not noticeable, making it a great choice for those mainly seeking detached homes at a lower price point.
The linked house design briefly appeared in the 70s and 80s in the greater region of Toronto, Canada (2). It happened as an attempt to construct houses that appeared detached despite being in a semi-detached housing lot.
24 – Mediterranean
Inspired by Spanish and Italian architecture, Mediterranean-style houses typically come with stucco walls, decorative tile work, and a central courtyard. The courtyard is an extension of the house’s living space and is a distinctive feature of the home’s architectural style.
Mediterranean-style houses are usually found in seaside cities in countries like Greece, Lebanon, Italy, Spain, and France. However, they have since expanded in popularity and can now be found in western countries like America and Australia.
25 – Mountain Cabin
Also known as a mountain hut, a mountain cabin is a type of house built for sustenance in mountainous regions and are often designed to function on slopes. These structures are usually only accessible by foot and provide shelters for mountain climbers and hikers on their way to the top.
While they can be purchased or built by anyone if desired, mountain cabins are typically owned by clubs and organizations dedicated to mountain recreation.
26 – Modern Mid-Century
As you may expect, mid-century houses refer to a design style that exploded in popularity in the mid-20th Century. Its architecture revolved around a combination of artificial and organic materials. Its distinctive large glass windows, open living spaces, and simplistic design encouraged the permeation of natural lighting.
The purpose of mid-century homes was to create an uncluttered environment and a simplified floor plan. This was a combination that Americans post-World War II loved.
27 – Palace
Traditionally, the term palace was used to refer to large castle-like structures that housed royalty, such as kings and queens. Only the wealthiest citizens of a nation have access to them.
Not much has changed in that regard, but palaces can now be more modern. They display luxurious beauty and extravagant living for high-class government officials or members of royalty. These structures are built with stone or brick and do not serve the purpose of defense like castles, but rather as a residential dwelling for the highest-status members of society.
28 – Penthouse
A penthouse is the highest class of apartment building units known to man, featuring a top-floor residence of the most luxurious perks. They are known for their ravishing city views, outdoor living spaces, vibrant balconies, and amazing rooftop seating.
Citizens of the highest wealth typically own penthouses. However, they can be accessible as vacation home options for temporary stays.
29 – Prairie
The concept of prairie-style homes is to serve human needs without being too “showy” in their architecture and design. They are known for their horizontal structures, low-pitched roof, hand-crafted wood features, and outer design made from rustic brick or stone.
These types of houses are fairly affordable for the everyday homeowner and can often be found in most suburbs. However, they are not as common as bungalows or standard modern and contemporary homes.
30 – Queen Anne
Queen Anne-style homes were an architectural staple of the Victorian era during the 19th and 20th Centuries. The design is often used for churches and schools in addition to houses.
The style is known for its distinctive form and abundance of decorative details in design and architecture. This gives off a high-class appearance with an exterior that can only be described as stunning artwork. Some common characteristics of the Queen Anne style house are its steep cone-shaped roofs, multiple entrances, and many windows.
31 – Ranch style
The ranch-style home design is quite popular in suburban areas. It features low-pitched roofs, sliding glass doors, big windows, and wide horizontal structures. Like a prairie, ranch-style houses are not too concerned with their outer appearance but rather focus on a simplified floor plan that promotes efficient living.
Ranch-style homes usually come with an attached garage and a single story. They are available as split-level, raised ranch-style, California-style, and storybook-style homes.
32 – Ryokan
The Japanese ryokan is a traditional home design built with concepts of minimalism in mind. These Japanese inns usually have minimal furniture on the interior, and the floor is usually wooden with tatami mats made of polystyrene foam spread across the area.
Ryokans are available for vacation stays across Japan for those seeking the traditional Japanese culture experience. Enjoy dining on the floor, hot springs (also known as “nonsense”), or simply enjoying some hot green tea while wearing the provided yukata robes.
33 – Spanish Revival
Spanish revival-style houses are known for their simplistic design that does away with unnecessary extravagance. The exterior is known for its smooth white surface, usually made of stucco or stone materials, and their stone tile roofs distinguish them.
Spanish revival homes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. A popular choice is the Spanish colonial-style homes. These provide a more extensive indoor and outdoor space and take on architectural influences from outside Spain.
34 – Split-level
Split-level homes differ to the standard two-story house by having more than one single flight of stairs that leads to a single floor. Rather, this house structure encompasses many “mini-steps” that provide more separation between rooms and living areas within the home.
The split-level home grew in popularity in the 50s and 60s and is still a popular choice among home buyers today.
Related: What is a Bi Level House?
35 – Tower
The easiest way to explain a tower house is to think of Rapunzel, the fairy tale character who lives in a tall castle tower. She had hair so long her suitor prince could climb it. The only way anyone could reach her.
Tower-style homes were quite common in Western Europe during the 1500s. Particularly in regions of Scotland and Ireland, where they housed elite families and members of society.
In addition to protecting thick stone walls and high altitudes, towers were a convenient housing option for places without much land to work with.
36 – Town House
Townhouses or townhomes are multi-unit housing lots that feature individual houses connected to form a community complex. They are denoted by their identical appearance in design, color, and structure and commonly feature tall two or three-story houses.
Often found in expensive areas where land space comes at premium prices. Townhouses offer a solution to suburban living that is affordable and comfortable for residents.
37 – Tree House
People often think of their children’s backyard tree houses when they think of this term. However, they can provide viable living space for short and long-term living. While not the safest accommodation mode, well-built tree houses can be firmly attached to a tree’s thick branches and provide a beautiful mode of living that is close and intimate with nature.
These unique types of houses have grown in popularity more as vacation rental home than long-term houses. They offer stunning views and cozy interior designs for a memorable stay.
38 – Tudor
Tudor-style homes often feature in European neighborhoods where they originated and grew in popularity in the 1800s. These types of houses are easy to recognize with their steep triangular roofs and front-facing gables of varying heights.
You will also recognize a Tudor-style house by its tall chimneys and “medieval” theme, often referred to as a “storybook” style. In addition, it has a resemblance to homes and castles of fairy tale stories.
39 – Victorian
Victorian-style housing was introduced to the USA in the early 19th Century. British architectural designs inspired it during Queen Victoria’s rule between 1837 and 1901. Its distinctive features include steep rooflines, luxurious entrances with pillars and columns, and cone-shaped roofs similar to Queen Anne-style houses.
Victorian-style homes were made to display elegant beauty rather than emphasizing practicality. As a result, they typically came in at two to three stories tall.
40 – Villa
Villas are an Italian style of housing that originated in its capital Rome, originally used to house upper-class citizens or act as a secondary home for the wealthy.
Since its original intention of providing primary and secondary housing extravagantly and luxuriously for the wealthy, the term villa is now used to refer to many types of residences. The average-sized and large-sized detached and semi-detached houses in countrysides and suburban areas.
Modern-day villas are often recognized by their rectangular-shaped design, lack of a sloped roof, and smooth cemented surfaces with subtle elements of Italian architectural characteristics.
Final thoughts on types of houses
There are so many houses out there that can suit anyone’s preference in terms of styles, shapes, and sizes. When deciding on the type of house that best suits you, be sure to consider the many unique features and design characteristics each type and style of house can offer you.
The real estate industry is an ever-growing force that continues to innovate and cater to the world’s growing population, so always be on the lookout for new developments and creative living arrangements.
We hope that our list of the many types of houses out there can help you determine your preferred mode of living and favorite house style. Make sure to understand your lifestyle goals and your family needs before pursuing a new home, and consider going over this list with your real estate agent for expert advice.
Buying a new home is a huge responsibility. It requires critical decision-making, but it can also be a time of fun and excitement for you and your family as you embark on a new life journey together!