Perhaps, you would have not imagined yourself searching the web for the different types of houses. But as a future homeowner or one who is already ready to go down that route, you have to understand that each type of house has a set of distinguishable characteristics, design or style, and some specific considerations (location, temperature, materials, etc).
In this post, you will not just find the most common types of houses found in urban and suburban settlements. You will also find some of the major housing trends of the modern age lick floating homes and moveable homes.
We also listed here some traditional homes whose architectural designs were embellished for modern living. As such, in this post, we will cover everything that you need to know about the types of houses.
In this article:
- Types of houses by architectural styles and structure
- 1. Annex
- 2. Apartment
- 3. Barndominium
- 4. Basement Suite/In-law suite
- 5. Bungalow
- 6. Cabin
- 7. Carriage
- 8. Castle
- 9. Cave
- 10. Chalet
- 11. Chateau
- 12. Coach House
- 13. Condominium
- 14. Container home
- 15. Contemporary mansion
- 16. Converted Shipping Container
- 17. Co-op
- 18. Dome or Round Houses
- 19. English Cottage
- 20. Farmhouse
- 21. Floating
- 22. Fort
- 23. Historic mansion
- 24. Houseboat
- 25. Luxury Mountain Chalet
- 26. Manor house
- 27. Mansion
- 28. McMansion
- 29. Mobile Home
- 30. Multi-family
- 31. Palace
- 32. Penthouse
- 33. Ranch-Style Home
- 34. Single Family Home
- 35. Tiny home
- 36. Townhouse
- 37. Treehouse
- 38. Underground House
- 39. Villa
- 40. Western Ranch Style
- 41. Yurt
Related: Types of house siding
Types of houses by architectural styles and structure
The types of houses can be divided into two basic descriptions: in terms of architectural styles and as a building structure. Houses that are categorized in terms of architectural style are differentiated in terms of the specific designs in which a house is patterned. Here, we are talking about ranch houses, Greek houses, Confederate/colonial houses, and Spanish houses to name a few.
On the other hand, if the category is based on the house as a building structure, we are talking about bungalows, condominiums, and capsule houses, to name a few. In the list, we will be talking of both architectural and building structure categories. We will also cover some ownership terms that provide significant differences in what constitutes a specific type of house.
An annex house usually functions as an in-law or basement suite. As the term implies, it is an added structure to the already existing single-family home. It functions as more than just an extended structure to the home for many reasons.
Aside from opening it up for rent at a lower cost, it is also built for the elders of the family and college kids or newly married family members for them to have privacy and independence. With this, they could slash off the rent for the property in equal halves.
Most often, annex homes are one-storey structures or converted as studio type apartments with its own, separate bedroom while the rest is based on an open living design.
It is commonly confused with a condominium because like it, it is also composed of many housing units in one building or tower. However, the main difference comes from the lease terms. Condos are paid for by individuals for a specific number of years. If the full payment is met, a turn-over will happen under the name of the individual.
On the other hand, apartments are rented by tenants for as long as they can pay but it will always be the property of who owns the building. Apartments are wider than condominium units too but like them, apartments come with amenities such as common pools, laundry, and a gym.
Also called as a converted barn, barndominiums are the fusion of barn features and the living space of condominiums. This type of house is made of steel or metal materials with the outward design of traditional barns. It rests on a spacious property, with vast outdoor spaces.
In terms of interior, it has an industrial look with steel walls, metal divisions for the rooms, kitchen, and other living spaces. Like any regular home, it also involves the regular plumbing, electric supply, and insulation of standard homes.
4. Basement Suite/In-law suite
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It is also called the in-law suite. It is constructed when the basement of the home is reconstructed to become a home of its own. It has its separate door, its own living room, kitchen, and bedrooms. Basement suites are types of multi-family house which lessen the cost of rent for an extended family.
This is also good for close-knit families since the in-laws usually occupy the basement suites. In this way, the elders of the family can have an independent space while conveniently extending help when their family in the main house needs one.
The term bungalow is actually derived from the word Bengali house used popularly in India to refer to small houses. At present, a bungalow type house is automatically referred to as any single-storey home, square in shape and with a front porch.
By tradition, bungalow houses have two to three steps leading to the porch. It also has that classic dormer window converted into a pitched roof. They were popular houses in the US during the 1990s but have lost their charm in the advent of minimalist designs and single-family homes.
There is a thin line between cabins and traditional cottages but cabins are very rustic and outback. As such, it is considered as a less finished cottage highly associated with the American countryside. It is basically built with logs, traditionally using lamps and firewood for light and warmth.
Like cottages, it has also evolved into a house associated with being rich since only the wealthy could have log cabins with lavish interiors. More than this, log cabins are considered as one of the most American homes and are greatly referenced in American films as an important fixture in American identity.
They are called as such because coach houses are historically built as a separate structure to house carriages, hence, the name. It is one of the extended structures of manor houses. They are not usually sold individually since they are within the overall property.
With the loss of horse-drawn carriages, coach houses were converted into additional living spaces for guests. Others have converted them into small offices for rent, giving homeowners additional revenue. Other homeowners have transformed carriage houses into a detached house from the single-family home serving as individual homes for grown children to live independently.
Referenced highly in historical texts, Disney princesses, and films set in the middle age, castles are the ‘homes’ of the royalty. Through the years, they have been fortified structures. Aside from relics of original seats of power, castles functioned to defend the lands occupied by the ruling nobility. The castle is also a collective structure that houses other buildings and shanty homes for the commoners.
Technically, there are no castles in the US. However, with the rise of Disney, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones, fantasy-themed castles were built like Disneyland and other theme parks. Across Europe, particularly in Germany, Denmark, Belgium, the UK, and Ireland, to name a few, old castles are fortified along with urban legends adding to their mysticism, drawing tourists from all over the world.
Cave houses are more than just vestiges of our evolution. Up to now, caves are permanent residencies for some people with outlandish preferences for home designs. Cave houses are specifically trendy for hardcore environmentalists. They contend that cave houses provide the serenity they need, the acoustics that they dig, the protection that regular homes give, and the best thermo-balance a house can have.
Of course, cave houses are further excavated to provide levels and bring in the posh interior that you would not expect from this house. They are found in the Mediterranean region and are converted as exotic hotel rooms in the Middle East. Interestingly, you will find cave homes in the USA specifically in California, Mexico City, and Arizona.
For example, the Photocatalytic Cave in Mexico City features a state-of-the-art design for a cave house that is 12meters below a secured hilly property. It has modern water, temperature, and security systems that keep it as a normal house. It is open for a weekend getaway rent but at a high price.
This one is the counterpart of cabins and cottages built in very cold regions like Switzerland and the rest of the Alps region. Traditionally, chalets were built by goat and sheep herders but now, they are built as vacation homes for the wealthy, located in snowy mountains where they could have endless access to skiing.
Its most unique architectural feature is its steep roof complemented by overhangs. This design is particularly beneficial in carrying heavy loads of snow. It features large wooden windows, a porch with at least 5-8 steps. The luxury mountain chalet is the upgraded version of the chalet.
While the term is basically the French counterpart of castles, developers have conceded that chateaus are more of massive country houses. They are the vacation homes of the nobility during the middle ages, with spacious interiors, vast green outdoors, and lavish upkeeps.
Chateaus are usually located near a lake view. Modern chateaus still feature old French-style indoors including a large wine cellar, lake-view patios, and floor-to-ceiling windows but with modern embellishments including pools, sports courts, and gyms as well as bars.
12. Coach House
A coach house is actually an extension of the single-family home located at the rear end of the property. In contrast with the popular laneway homes of prime Canadian cities, the coach houses of the US can be stratified into two levels and are sold individually.
Coach houses are larger than laneway homes, complete with sizable yards which adds to their price either sold as property or in terms of rent. Sometimes, coach houses are also called micro-lofts, or micro condominiums.
Along with townhouses, condominium houses are one of the most popular houses today. Basically, a condominium unit is a compact house located in a condominium building or tower sited in a single piece of property. The tower houses hundreds or even thousands of condominium units.
Since it has become a trend, the onset of duplex and triplex condominium units emerged. Duplex condos are two separate condo units merged together to form a two-storey unit. In the same case, the triplex condo involves three separate units merged to form a three-leveled condo.
In New York City, duplex and triplex condos result from two to three units located directly on top of one another merged to form two or three-storey units. In California and other US states, merging units are side-by-side.
14. Container home
Since its launching in 2011, container homes have made torrential waves in modern architecture as the fusion of innovation and ecology. They are very easy to construct and all materials are recycled steel or repurposed shipping containers from the docks.
Depending on the design and money you can spend, container homes can be very small or very large. Trendy container home designs include joining two shipping containers in one roof, adding a touch of wood cladding, and of course sprucing it up with modern interiors.
15. Contemporary mansion
Image credit: houzz
While there is still a little consensus about what constitutes a mansion, contemporary mansions are not just defined in terms of the vastness of space they occupy.
Contemporary mansions feature numerous baths and bedrooms but they are also infused with many lavish amenities like infinite pools, high-end entertainment rooms, and security systems, cabanas, large wine cellars, catering kitchens, sports courts, and gyms.
Contemporary mansions are found across the US, owned by artists, Hollywood stars, and old rich families. Some of these would be in Bel-Air, considered as the richest neighborhood in the US, Beverly Hills, the Hamptons, and Birmingham, to name a few.
16. Converted Shipping Container
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Repurposed shipping containers have become low-cost housing alternatives of the 2000s. It is an ecological way of converting unused or for disposal shipping containers to make dock/floating houses, mobile homes, two repurposed shipping containers joined together to have modern, minimalist residential spaces.
Converted shipping container homes can be found in home parks, in the row of floating houses, and in the great outbacks. They can be tiny homes or large ones. Most of the time, they are pre-made from factories but then again, you can always have them customized.
This one has the appearance of a condo but their difference again rests on some legal terms. When an individual buys a co-op property, it means that he/she is not buying a rent-to-own condo. Instead, he/she is buying in for a future percentage in the entire tower/building.
This means that those who buy in a co-op unit are leasing in the building but because they are also technically shareholders of the property, they will get an equal dividend share from all fellow leasees. And since you are all shareholders, you have a say on who can become members of the co-op but you will also divide when it comes to maintenance and repairs.
18. Dome or Round Houses
As the term implies, dome houses are shaped like geodesic domes or in a circular shape with the features of regular homes like bedrooms, kitchen, standard windows, and doors. The two most common types of dome houses are the geodesic dome house and the monolithic dome house.
Geodesic domes are not entirely circular since they feature polygon shapes joined in a circular manner. They are a bit closer to standard homes including walls, windows, and roofs.
Monolithic dome houses have the perfect round shape but still feature roofs and windows. They are also considered to be more sturdy than geodesic homes and are more futuristic in architectural design.
19. English Cottage
As the term implies, this house is popular in the English countryside, historically homes to peasants and the working class. At present, only the upper middle class and elites have cottages in outlands serving as their small ‘vacation homes’. Traditionally, English cottages have single rooms, a thatched roof, and thick walls. They are made of wood, brick, or stone sides, a fireplace, and a porch.
But now, English cottages have very luxurious interiors as they are now associated with the rich. For comparison, cottage designs now can come in either the historic English cottage, small vacation cottages, and luxury cottages.
Related: English cottage garden ideas
As the term implies, farmhouses take up the rustic design of the barn, laid-out in a large, rectangular property, with exposed tall beams, high ceilings, a high porch with 8-10 steps, and a fireplace. Its base is usually made of bricks or stones. Modern farmhouses no longer feature all rustic features.
They now incorporate cleaner updates combined with a rustic design nose. They are small colonial homes usually found in the Southern suburbs or in the countryside. They are often sited in the middle of a vast field or land.
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It is like a mobile home but unlike home parks, floating homes are located on docks or dock-like infrastructures which for safety, are connected to permanent safety utilities. It is quite expensive because floating homes require special considerations under the building code. Part of its cost comes from the transport and transfer of materials in the dock.
Aside from the costs that come with building, other homeowner fees like dock rents, home rents, slips, and added utilities and maintenance fees are shouldered by the owner. A regular maintenance drill is hiring a diver to check on the undersides of the floating home.
Basically, forts are military structures where soldiers and other military personnel are housed. Traditional forts were built with stone and logs. It is enclosed in a fortified area usually with high stone walls. The other buildings that surround a fort would be the soldiers’ barracks, artillery, medical stations, and command centers, among others.
23. Historic mansion
Aside from occupying a large space or being a big and old structure, a historic mansion should be considered or officially registered as historical. To be listed as such, a historic mansion should extend beyond age, its interiors and exteriors must be well-preserved, and that it should have a recognized historical significance.
Historical significance can be attributed to the family name which belonged for many years. It could also be a venue for historic onslaughts, wars, or the royal home of popular royalties in history.
It is also called a floating house because it is literally a house floating in the middle of a body of water (usually a lake or river). They are not of course used to sail. Rather, the whole structure is tethered to the land using anchors.
This type of house still has the features of a regular home like bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, etc. The only difference is that the house where they are on is floating. Of course, they do not have yards but they can have extended garages on the land where they are moored.
25. Luxury Mountain Chalet
This one is the upgraded version of mountain chalets. The luxury term associated with it is basically because of the interior lavishness that it has. Aside from its modern interior take, it also veers away from the standard mountain chalet with its bigger windows, modern finishes, and upgraded entertainment, security, and energy-saving systems.
They often come in open designs where glass walls are installed to give a full snowy mountain view. Luxury mountain chalets are often found in winter vacation homes in Aspen, in the Rocky Mountain, and in Switzerland.
26. Manor house
This one is definitely clustered as a country house but the term manor is a term used widely in the middle ages referring to the collective estates of landed lords. A manor usually includes a 20-25 room home as the centerpiece, woodlands, fields where peasant families are located, and other structures like stables, barns, servants’ quarters, and more.
At present, manors have been converted into hotels and restaurants. They are just usually identified now in terms of space and old-style design. Manor houses can still be found largely in France and other European countries.
There has been much fuss about what should be considered a mansion and the debate is still on-going. Nonetheless, mansions are usually categorized as any residential property with a floor space of at least 8,000sq.ft. Realtors suggest that mansions are no longer used in property listings since it has just become an adjective for any impressively large house.
The key to qualifying a house as a mansion rests in the luxury amenities that it has. First, it must have an average of six bedrooms and at least five baths, entertainment rooms composed of game rooms, home cinemas, lounges, three catering kitchens, cabanas, and a pool.
It must also have zen gardens, sports facilities, hiking trails, spa facilities, firepits, guesthouses, and grandiose walk-in closets, to name a few. Alongside these, there are also different types of mansions ranging from contemporary mansions, historic mansions, and of course, the McMansion.
This is a term used to describe poorly constructed or designed mansions. This mansion ranges from having poor grade materials or a hodgepodge of unconnected architectural designs that makes the entire theme of the mansion nonsensical. Inside it would also be misplaced interiors and random designs.
Like the regular mansions, McMansions are located all around suburban land developments usually owned by a single developer with templated designs. As such, they are not that finished and are poorly customized. Some are emptied with less than a year of occupancy because of interiors falling off.
29. Mobile Home
As the term implies, this one is a moveable house. This is not your hippie trailer home though. Mobile homes are pre-built, tiny homes, sited in a large trailer, and are recognized as permanent homes. Some mobile homes are not placed on a trailer, however. They can also be installed in a small property or in what they call home parks and can be just towed anytime.
While mobile, owners of these homes still need to pay homeowners’ taxes, insurance, and other state rules and fees for communal home spaces like home parks. Mobile homes have become very popular in California, Ohio, and Florida, to name a few.
Image credit: houzz
As the term implies, a multi-family house is a large home with more than one unit serving as a home for well, many families. Multi-family homes are the umbrella term for apartments, duplex, and triplex homes. The reason for investing in multi-family homes is to get more revenue from a large property. It is also a way for homeowners to be rent-free of their own property since they can use the rent in paying bills.
Some modern multi-family houses now infuse many types of spaces in one. For example, a modern multi-family house may include one duplex, two triplexes, and four apartments stacked in just one house. This type of multi-family house is becoming more popular in the urban centers of Sweden.
Castles are more of royal fortresses while chateaus are royal country homes. When we talk about palaces, their defining features are spaciousness, grandiosity, and opulence. They are specifically built for the comfort and luxurious lives of royalties and dignitaries.
They have more than a hundred rooms, each for specific functions, and large halls and outdoor spaces that could accommodate hundreds to thousands. They have long banquet halls, ballrooms, and more. They also have other extended structures collectively forming the property. They have large stables, lake-views, decks, vast outdoors, trails, and more.
Palaces are themed diversely. Western palaces have neutral-themed designs while Eastern and Hispanic palaces are filled with color and tropical embellishments. Famous palaces around the world include the Buckingham Palace, the Winter Palace, the Summer Palace in Beijing, the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow, and the Royal Palace of Stockholm, just to name a few.
If anything, palaces can be as conservative or as outlandish as it could be. Some have their own royal boutiques, food establishments, and other lifestyle features inside the palace itself.
Image credit: houzz
This one is essentially the top-floor residence of a condominium tower, a hotel, or a residential building. The number of levels does not matter. As long as the unit is located solely on top, it is considered a penthouse.
Penthouses are reserved for executives, tower owners, and any wealthy tenant that could afford the luxury of the place. They are expensive because they have the best city views be it located in modern towers or historical residential buildings.
33. Ranch-Style Home
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Also called the rancher, this one will pass as a very wide bungalow because it is a single-storey built on a large, rectangular lot. It is considered as the American counterpart of the Spanish hacienda whose popularity rose in the 1950s. From the 1960s up to the present, ranchers have been turned into suburban homes with urban designs.
Ranchers are distinguishable for their large outdoor spaces, long walkways, and two-step porch stairs. They have low roofs, sliding doors, vast open spaces, large windows, and an attached garage. It is the classic 50s California home.
34. Single Family Home
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This one comprises 70% of all American homes at present. It is also called the detached home because the house is situated in a wide lot and is relatively at a distance from the next house. It is considered as the upper-middle-class to elite homes because you would usually find single family homes in the suburbs.
The rise of single home families is attributed to the post-second world war reconstruction and urban planning. They could be bungalows or two-storey houses usually with a garage up front and a wide garden at the back.
35. Tiny home
By the end of the 1990s, there was already an on-going tiny home movement in the US for individuals who love modern minimalism and the affordability that comes with compact homes. Tiny homes are usually 60-500sq.ft., usually pre-made by factories.
Like moveable houses, tiny homes can be towed and placed elsewhere. They are famous for independent living or for couples who have limited financial freedom.
Image credit: houzz
Townhouses are highly referenced in popular culture thanks to Hollywood films. These houses are rows of homes divided by a wall. Sometimes, they are considered as single-family homes attached to two units on both sides.
Traditionally, they are just two or three stories but at present, townhouses have become high-rise too, accommodating more than just 10-15 rooms inside. Unlike condos, townhouse owners are responsible for maintaining both the interior and exterior fixtures of the unit.
This type of house is considered a children’s play fort for the longest time. You might not believe it but treehouses are now being considered by a lot of homeowners as a private retreat house.
At present, treehouses are becoming more than just weekend spaces as they are now being transformed into permanent residences. Architects are now making more upscale versions of treehouses infusing entertainment nooks, sustainable designs using more steady foundations like steel.
38. Underground House
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Fans of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings surely have developed a penchant for underground houses being cozy, earthy, and well-insulated. Reports from the Earth Home US list that there are more than 6,000 underground houses around the world and they say that this is actually a practical choice.
Underground homes are very ecological. These homes are safe from disasters, they use up minimal energy and do not require much maintenance. They are scattered berms, old tunnels, old silos, and more.
Image credit: houzz
A villa is basically a larger and more luxurious single-family home common in tropical locations and on the European outskirts. Villas often feature vast courtyards, fountains, and other water features as well as large gardens and sometimes even wide vineyards.
Villas are spacious, often coming with more than 20 bedrooms. Due to the luxurious privacy that comes with it, villas are now expensive units in hotels and even in apartment units. Exclusive villas, with all the high-end amenities that you would find in a mansion, are all over the United States.
40. Western Ranch Style
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Unlike the previously described ranch style, this one can be composed of many levels with the architectural design of the midwest USA and the interior of modern homes. They have the clay roofing of Hispanic homes, an open floor and unlike traditional ranch houses, they can come in more than two levels. Materials used for western ranch style are very rustic with wooden windows, wood sidings, and more.
Image credit: houzz
This one is the traditional homes of the Mongols, which during ancient times are composed of various nomadic tribes. They are small and very easy to move to make them the ideal dwelling place for the nomadic Mongols.
It is a round structure covered entirely with a white, waterproof fabric. Inside it, you could find all the basic amenities found in a regular home. It is small, often at 17ft x 30ft, and is very inexpensive when built. Like cottages and log cabins, yurts have become trendy vacation homes for the upper-middle class and the elites.
Aside from the types of houses, there are also some essential questions that must be answered. In this section, we will answer some FAQs about the types of houses that we featured here.
What are the most popular types of houses in the USA?
Owning a house in the US is a big deal and through the years, we could see the evolution of the most popular types of houses in the county. If you are wondering about what these house types are, you are looking for the following:
- Ranch style homes
- Cape Cod design (which is categorized along with cabin types)
- Victorian style (categorized as cottage type)
- Contemporary mansion
- Colonial homes (categorized as single-family home)
- English Tudor design (categorized as cottage type)
- Log cabins
- Mediterranean style
- Tiny homes
What are the three orders of architecture?
Since the first millennium and up to the present, these three orders of architecture have been followed by architects, builders, and engineers. These are the doric order, ionic order, and the Corinthian order.
The doric order is the simplest of all distinguishable for short yet heavy columns with round tops and without the base. The ionic order, on the other hand, is characterized by slender columns, a large base, and two opposing scrolls. The last one is the Corinthian order characterized by a slender column with four scrolls. It is considered the most elaborate with its 24 flutes and the tallest of the three orders.
What types of materials are used in the USA for houses?
Fun fact, bricks are not used as common construction materials for American homes. If you are curious about the other materials used for building houses in the USA, here is a comprehensive list.
- Wood: 85% of all houses in the US are built with wood especially for single-family homes, bungalows, cottages, cabins, etc.
- Blocks and cement
- Repurposed metal or steel
There has been much debate revolving around the excessive use of American homes on wood materials contending that American homes are flimsy because they are constructed of wood with no sturdier amendments.
Can houses lose value?
Yes. If houses can be appraised, they sure can depreciate too. Often done by a real estate agent or a land developer, homes depreciate because of many factors. The most imminent one is its physical situation. Damaged interiors have a greater depreciation impact on homes compared to damaged exteriors. Total neglect is a different case.
Another reason for depreciation is the reputation of the neighborhood the house is located in. The higher the risk the neighborhood poses for the future homeowner, the lesser the value of the house. A generally depreciating economic environment is also a factor in property depreciation.
There are many reasons why we should all be acquainted with different types of houses. The types of houses are divided between architectural designs or in terms of structural type. They have specific features that set them apart from others. Some are strikingly similar but are separated by some legal terms, ownership schemes and terms of the materials used.
For some of the outlandish types of houses here, you might want to look for other information surrounding state rules on how to build and manage them. While you may not find yourself looking for some house types yet or just in case you are already geared up in having one, being familiar with some will surely come in handy when the time comes.