Types of Houses

Choosing a home involves several critical decisions. You’ll think about square footage, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and whether or not you want a multi-story home.

However, one of the most fundamental considerations is the architectural style of home that you prefer. If you’re not familiar with the most common architectural styles, then this will provide you with a convenient overview.

Custom Home

What does it mean when a builder says that they specialize in “custom” homes? Typically, they are drawing a distinction between their services and those of a “production” builder. When you work with a production builder, the home is located in a subdivision where the customers choose from a library of floor-plans. Each one has a limited number of personalization options. These can be wonderful, but sometimes people want more design input. They have specific requirements that just don’t fit in the floor plan library. Accordingly, a custom home is a one-of-a-kind project. Designing a custom home puts the buyer in the driver’s seat. They can hire someone to draw up a floor plan and do it themselves. Throughout the project, they’ll have to make numerous decisions.

A custom home is attractive because it can take on any size, elevation or architectural style.

Ranch Style

The ranch-style house became popular after World War II. Inspired by Spanish colonial homes, these structures have low rooflines and wide eaves. Frequently, they are single-story buildings though there are subtypes like split-level ranches that have more than one story. The defining characteristics of the ranch style include sliding glass doors, large windows, attached garages, back patios, a cross-gabled or hip roof and a mix of exterior materials.

It’s not unusual to find an open living area that combines a kitchen, dining area and family room. Three bedrooms are common as are full basements.


This architectural style is influenced by 17th century European buildings. Colonists who settled in America brought the style with them. The earliest homes featured two stories, with each floor having one large room. Eventually, this evolved into two-story layouts with four rooms on each floor known as four-over-four.

Colonial homes are symmetrical with a centrally placed front door. Two windows are placed on either side of the door, and the upper story features five windows across. A medium-pitched roof, paired chimneys and a stairway directly behind the entry door are common characteristics.

Manufactured Homes

Manufactured homes may have their roots in mobile homes, but the best examples are virtually indistinguishable from traditional houses. They are built in one, two or three sections with each section having wheels underneath. Federal standards require the use of steel beams.

Manufactured homes are built in a factory. They can be placed on metal piers or blocks with skirting. It’s even possible to place these homes over a basement.


The term “farmhouse” refers more to the location and purpose of a structure rather than its looks. Lumber, brick or quarried stone may be used in their construction, but the farmhouse is always comfortable and unpretentious.

Typically, they are found in rural locations, feature functional porches and combine formal and informal spaces.


These homes have more than one story and share at least one or two walls with other townhouses. These frequently are built in a small neighborhood with a homeowners’ association.

Because of the smaller footprint and shared walls, townhouses tend to be more affordable. Yards are small, making this an ideal choice for people who aren’t interested in gardening.

Log Cabin

With their tapered logs, oversized windows and rustic touches, log cabins are cozy with just the right amount of elegance. Modern log cabins may be tiny or massive, but they nearly always have at least one stone fireplace. Single-story floor plans are preferred, but more people are incorporating lofts or second stories. Handcrafted touches and unique architectural elements make each cabin distinctive.

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