What Type of House Should I buy ?

Types of Single Family Detached Houses

When looking to purchase a house, one of the questions to ask is, What Style of houses do we want ? Should it be a bungalow or a 2 story house ? Does it need to have a basement or not ? What about a garage ? Should the house have a front attached garage, or a detached garage, or none at all? There is no right or wrong here, it is more about what works best for you and your budget.

Depending on the locale of the house, it may or may not have a basement. In the northern climates, foundations need to go below the frost level, so basements are very common, as the excavation is so deep. In warmer climates basement are not as common because frost is not a concern.

Of course houses will differ in style, depending on some of the features. They may be colonial, tudor, southwest, Victorian, rustic, cape cod, or a number of other styles that basically are different finishes and features added to these types of houses.  A lot of these differences come from era and location.

Here are some of the basic types of houses.

Bungalow – This is a house design where the stairs for the basement go down from the main floor. There is some loss of space for the stairwell, but it can be made to look quite attractive. Most often the laundry is on the main floor, which is an attractive and convenient feature. It is also an ideal style of house to have vaulted ceilings. There may or may not be an attached, garage depending on the layout.

Split Level – If you don’t mind a few stairs, this style of house can be quite attractive. Usually the top level has 2 or 3 bedrooms plus bathrooms. The main level is living dining room and kitchen. The next level down is great for a family room, bathroom, and sometimes another bedroom. If the house is a 4 level split, the lowest level is good for another family or games area and possibly another bedroom.

A four level split is more desirable than a three level, as the space under the main level is just waste space on a three level but is utilized as the lowest level on a four level split. This is something to keep in mind as it does affect resale value. A split level may also have an attached garage.

2 Storey House – As the name implies, this house has 2 stories above ground. Two story houses have been around for many years. They are a very common sense house. If someone needs a large amount of useable space with a smaller base size, or footprint, then 2 story may be the perfect solution. There are lots of options for attached garages, and they usually have a basement as well.

A variation of the 2 storey is found in some areas, and it tends to be fairly localized.  This is the 2 storey where most of the living is done on the upper level. The entry level sometimes will incorporate a garage, then family room, bathroom, laundry and the stairway heading to the living, eating and sleeping areas upstairs. Because of the height, this can provide some great views.

1 1/2 Storey House – Similar to the 2 Storey in that there is a usable upper level. Some of the older 1 1/2 storeys have tapered attic style rooms, where as the newer ones are often built out towards the rear.  Often the upstairs is used for bedrooms and bathrooms.  From the curb, this can look like a small house, but they usually have a good amount of usable space. Cabins and vacation homes may fit into the 1 1/2 storey category.

Bi-level or Cathedral Entry – the distinguishing feature of this home is the option of going upstairs to the main floor or downstairs as you come in the front door. They have a bit of a landing for taking off coats and shoes. Usually the laundry is in the basement along with the furnace, hot water tank etc. Very convenient type of house for a front attached garage.

Occasionally you will find what is called a Modified BiLevel. At first glance this may look like a two storey, but it is just a bilevel with a front attached garage and they have incorporated either a master bedroom or a bonus room over the garage. The rest of the house is the same as a regular bilevel.

Rancher – This is most often a large bungalow without a basement. They tend to be larger and sprawled out in order to include all of the features required. Some ranchers have basements, but most are built with a crawl space or on a concrete slab.

What is a Cookie Cutter House ? – Sometimes when a developer is building numerous houses in a development, they try to keep expenses down by building a number of the same houses with some slight changes. The floor plans may be reversed, siding or window features changed a bit to give a slightly different look. By building similar houses, the builders can keep the costs down. Often the ‘cookie cutter’ houses work well as starter houses. They also tend to be smaller with no garages.

This is a general introduction into the types of single family homes.  Again, there are many different styles of houses with differing appearances, but they will usually fit into one of these general categories. Each has its own pros and cons but in the end it will be a blending of functionality, preference, and budget.

Enjoy your time as you look and learn about real estate. Feel free to come back here often as more articles are continually being added.

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