types of houses

Types of Houses: A Complete Guide On House Structures

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Get Smarter On Architecture and Design

Get the 3-minute weekly newsletter keeping 5K+ designers in the loop.

Enter your Email to Sign up


The best part about architecture and real estate is that there's a house for everyone. There are various types of houses and no matter your preference; you can be sure that you'll find a house that suits your fancy.

Before we get started, we'd like to note that there's a difference between styles of houses and types of houses. House styles refers to the architectural style and design of a house. Examples of popular house styles include Colonial, Craftsman, Cape Cod style, and so on.

On the other hand, the house type is the actual structure of the house. And this is what we're going to be talking about today. So we'll look at several types of houses in this article.

What Are Popular Types of Houses?

1) Single Family Home

If you live in the US, you have probably seen the single-family home more than once. These types of houses are very common and are not joined to any other house. Hence the name. These types of houses are often very common in suburbia and are a dream for many Americans.

Single-family homes come in several shapes and sizes, and you can choose the kind of modern design you want. The single-family house became popular after World War II after mass migration to the suburbs happened.

And although this type of house continues to be popular among most Americans, Millenials and the coming generations will boost the emergence of alternatives to this type of house.

2) Apartment

Appartments are a major infrastructural phenomenon in urban areas. The only way to go is with limited land to work with. Therefore, this house style will only continue to exist no matter how much urban areas expand.

How apartments work is that one person or one organization owns the whole building, and various tenants lease it. The best thing about apartments is that they come in various shapes, sizes, and different proportions.

For example, some high-end apartments have amenities such as car parking facilities, pools, gyms, laundry rooms, and so on. Therefore, depending on your preferences and your budget, you can decide what kind of apartment you want to build or live in.

3) Condominium (Condo)

A condominium is similar to an apartment but with a slight difference. With apartments, you get to lease your own apartment and only pay the rent you owe. On the other hand, you get to own your own space with condominiums.

Condos are privately owned, and you won't have a landlord knocking at your door asking for rent. However, if you choose to own a condo, you'll be responsible for your balcony, interior, and exterior spaces.

Basically, you won't have a landlord to call if the tap starts leaking or the kitchen sink breaks. Think of owning a condo as owning your own single-standing home. The only difference is that you'll be sharing common areas with other condo owners in the same building.

So, how does this work? First, an elected body often governs the building as a whole and the land on which it sits. An example of such a body is a housing association or Strata Council.

Therefore, you'll pay a specific amount of money either monthly or manually to an account run by this body. This money will be used to keep up the communal spaces and amenities. For example, the funds to repair it will come from this fund if the elevator breaks down.

Upkeep of the grounds, stairs, elevator, common gates, security, and lights along the stairwells and compound is covered by this money. Condos are common in both urban areas and the suburbs.

You've probably heard of the word duplex. A duplex is a condo that has two levels. Therefore, you'll find that the lower level has the living room, dining area, kitchen, bathroom, and balcony. Then the sleeping quarters and more private parts of the home are upstairs on the higher level.

You can think of a duplex as two condos that have been combined. A triplex is a condo that has three levels.

4) Bungalow

Bungalows became a hot commodity in the United States in the early 1990s and are great for the aging population. This is because of the lack of stairs. These houses are characterized by a front porch and a quaint look.

The name bungalow actually comes from the name "Bengali house," which is an Indian word for small houses. You'd be interested to know that bungalows came about because the cottage-style houses weren't suitable for India's warm climate.

5) Ranch Style

A ranch-style home is also known as a rancher and is a single-story home and is similar to a bungalow. The major difference is that it has a larger rectangular footprint than what you find with a bungalow.

These types of houses are designed for casual living and maximum comfort. The ranch-style home design has western roots and grew popular in the 1950s. This was around the time when huge tracks of land became suburbs.

The land on which ranch-style houses sit is very large. You can find that a ranch-style house has a sizeable garage, yard, and even other buildings surrounding it. A ranch house is often clad in wood and has open living areas.

The great thing about these kinds of houses is that they are easy to manage and affordable. Therefore, if you love the idea of living in rural areas and waking up to the sound of birds and fresh air, this is a good house for you.

6) Townhouse

A townhouse is also known as a townhome and is characterized by tall and narrow features. Townhouses are joined together to each other on their side and are usually at least 2 stories tall. This means that they have windows and doors on the front and back.

So, why are they called townhouses? Because they are mostly found in the center of towns and cities. This is often where land comes at a premium, and every inch counts. If you decide to own a townhouse, you'll be responsible for the interior and exterior of it.

The main difference between townhouses and single-family homes is that they are joined to other units, whereas single-family homes stand on their own.

7) Cabin

Cabins are similar to cottages and make for some of the best vacation homes. However, both cottages and cabins are small in size. The main difference is the aesthetic and the fact that cabins are often found in rural areas, whereas cottages can be found anywhere.

Another feature that separates the two is that cabins have a more rustic feel compared to cottages which have a more comfortable and cozy feel. If you are a fan of fishing or hunting trips, owning a cabin is a good idea.

You'll find that most cabins are minimally furnished because they aren't really a place to spend a lot of time in.

8) Cottage

The word may make you think of a small, cozy and detached home characterized by a thatched roof and thick walls with smoke coming out of a cute chimney.

Although this isn't how all cottages look like, you'll find they are nowadays mostly used as vacation homes. This means a home away from your usual home. A place you go to get away and detach from the rest of the world. You'll find most cottages have a nice aesthetic appeal.

Unline cabins, cottages have a more comfortable and cozy feel to them. You may find that most cottages have some flowers in the window and a swing seat on the balcony.

However, don't let the name fool you. Cottages are actually very luxurious and make for the best vacation homes.

9) Mobile Home

A mobile home is a home that you can move around. Mobile homes are often made in factories and can remain in one place or be towed around.

The good thing about owning a mobile home is that you can move it around or park it in a rented lot or on your own land.

10) TreeHouse

If you want something quite unique, consider getting a treehouse. The one thing to note with treehouses is that they are not actually built on trees. Instead, their structure and stilts are elevated from the ground so that the trees are around the house.

11) Multi-Family House

A multi-family house is a type of house that contains more than one unit. It can be a condominium, apartment, or any other stand-alone building that can hold more than one unit.

If the multi-family houses only have the ground level, they'll be next to each other. Otherwise, you'll find that many of these houses have two or three stories. You can think of a multi-family house as a house that has an in-law suite.

12) Tiny Home

Just like the name suggests, a tiny home is an extremely small home that can either be stationary or mobile. Varying from 100 sq to 400 sq, these houses are efficient and are becoming more and more popular.

If you want to live mortgage-free, this is a good way to go.

13) Basement Suite

A basement suite or in-law suite can come in handy when you want to make some extra income by renting the space out. This type of house is a separate unit that is often found in the basement of single-family homes.

You can use it as a cool guest house or room or rent it out if you need the extra income.

14) Mansion

Almost everyone wants to own a mansion. And for good reason. Mansions are huge homes that have luxurious amenities and offer their owners enough living space to do anything.

Another characteristic is that mansions are detached properties. This means that they offer you immense privacy. This is probably why many famous and rich people opt to own mansions. The sprawling property is often at the end of a long driveway and hidden from view by tall fences or walls.

The main construction material for mansions is brick or stone. Therefore, if this is something that you dream of having one day, start reading about these great architects. They might just have a cool design for you.

15) McMansion

Don't let the name fool you. This isn't a smaller version of a mansion. In fact, this type of house could not be further from a mansion. The only thing these two types of houses have in common is that they are both large.

A McMansion is a type of house that is large and poorly designed. In addition to that, it has been put together with low-grade materials by limitedly skilled people. A typical McMansion occupies about 3,000 - 5,000 square feet.

You might see these homes in suburban areas, and they are often developed by one developer.

16) Floating Home / Houseboat

Floating water residences are common in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Vancouver. Some common features you'll find on a houseboat include various moorage arrangements.

If you want to own such a home, ensure that you do your due diligence when it comes to regulations in your area. In fact, you'd better use an experienced real estate agent who is well-versed in this field.

17) Yurt

Have you heard of the Mongols? Mongols are nomadic people of Mongolia and use the yurt as their primary form of a housing structure. A yurt is a round structure with walls and a roof made of waterproof fabric.

The advantage of yurts is that they can comfortably be packed and moved with ease. A yurt can vary in size from 12 ft in diameter to over 30 ft in diameter.

Nonetheless, you can still find yurts that are custom-built and fairly rustic. You can opt to keep this type of house as a vacation home if you are into this type of house.

18) Round House

This type of house is a dome-like structure and has been around for ages. Although you won't see many of these houses in the western culture, they have been around for a while in other communities in other areas of the world.

19) Cave

Although caves are often associated with ancient times, they are still found today. You can choose to carve your vacation home in a cave and have a cozy place to disappear to every once in a while.

Today, caves are no longer cold and dark spaces lit by hand-made fires. Instead, they are luxurious spaces that make for comfortable and functional homes.

20) Chalet

If you have visited the mountainous regions of Europe, you've probably come across a chalet. Chalets were traditionally lived in by goat herders and shepherds. They are characterized by steep roof pitches that are overhanging.

This was meant to prevent snow from building up on the roof and making it collapse. So, if you love to ski, you can purchase a chalet as a vacation home. The external and internal parts of these chalet house styles are made of wood.

You will definitely feel the authentic Nordic feel of these home styles.

21) Coach House

What is a coach house? This is a small structure that sits on the same property as the main house. In the olden days, this house was mostly used to house horses and carriages. Today, it can be used as a place for the in-laws when they come to visit or for the older children before they go to make a life of their own.

If you get a house that comes with a coach house, you can choose to rent it out if you don't have older children or in-laws who come visit.

22) Chateau

The chateau was originally designed for nobility, the lord of the manor, and the elite of France. These housing units are large and luxurious and are private. The word chateau is a French word that means a private palace or castle.

Chateaux are often found in France, although you can still find them in other areas of Europe. These are mostly areas where French is spoken. You'll find that most chateaux get their names from the wines produced in those regions.

You don't have to own a chateau to enjoy the experience. Lucky for us, many chateaux have been restored and converted into bed and breakfast establishments that you can visit.

23) Annex

An annex is a structure that is independent of the house, complete with its own entrance. Annex-style houses have all the amenities that the main house has and can either be attached to the main house or it can exist as a separate entity.

The annex is similar to the basement house that is found in a single-family home, except that it isn't in the basement. Your in-laws can stay in the annex when they come to visit or your grown kids before they move out.

Alternatively, you can choose to rent out your annex unit and earn some extra income. Some annex home styles are often very separate from the main house. They can even be found at the end of the garden.

Although these houses are often one-story, you can find some with more than one story.

24) Castle

Castles are characterized by thick, strong walls, small windows, and a protective structure around them. An example of this protective structure is a fort. Castles were designed to give their occupants maximum protection hence the features.

The construction of a castle is impenetrable and durable. Today, castles are inhabited by the descendants of the original occupants or are open to the public.

The ones that are open to the public are meant to be for leisure or educational purposes. Therefore, if you are curious about how castles look or are exploring various architectural styles, consider taking a tour of your nearest castle.

25) Underground House / Bunker

A bunker is a type of house that has been strategically developed underneath the ground's surface. They are often built into the side of hills. The entrance will be facing the outside to allow for light to come in.

Bunkers are safe places during a war, but they can also be used for residential purposes.

26) Barndominium

The barndominium is a converted barn that was formerly used to house farm animals and farm machinery. The name barndominium comes from the two words: barn and condominium. So, therefore, if you have an old barn that you have converted into a house, it's now a barndominium.

On the other hand, the name could also mean a steel structure whose external structural design resembles that of a barn. Thes houses are often spacious, functional, and efficient. If you want it to match other contemporary homes, you can add some more designs to the interior.

Some features that make these types of houses popular include a large living space, energy-efficient windows and doors, and proper room divisions.

27) Fort

Forts are enclosed military structures that are meant to house soldiers and other personnel. The main material that was used to build forts in the original days was stone and timber. You'll find that the fort is surrounded by a high fence or wall and has a large and fortified entrance.

28) Palace

Palaces were built for royal families. More often than not, palaces are still occupied by the royal family members. A good example is Buckingham Palace which is historical in nature and still hosts the members of a royal family.

Stone or brick is often the material used to construct these phenomenal housing structures. Palaces have an imposing nature that is impressive.

29) Igloo

The word Igloo means house and originates from the Inuits. Inuits are the indigenous people of the Arctic region. Igloos are dome-shaped and made from blocks of snow carefully stacked o top of each other.

The best thing about Igloos is that they don't lose any heat produced within their walls. This is because the snow used to make the walls acts as an amazing insulator. As a result, these living spaces can either be temporary or permanent.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Related Articles
Best construction careers

The 5 Best Construction Careers: Choosing Your Opportunity

Within the broad field of construction where every endeavor bears witness to human creativity and tenacity, specific professions distinguish themselves. ...

restaurant layout

12 Most Efficient and Classy Restaurant Layout Ideas

In the cutthroat world of the restaurant industry, the recipe for success includes not only superior food and service, but ...

Top 40 Real Estate Questions To Ask When Selling A House

Selling a house is challenging. You may be selling a house to pay your debts or make more money, but ...