As my wife and I looked into buying our first home, we knew very little about the process. We were very worried about how we were going to make the money part of it work out for us, and poked around for information about any little thing that could help. Luckily, we came across information on programs that we were eligible for because we were first-time home buyers. First, we looked into loan options for first-time home buyers. But after weighing our options, we ended up deciding to apply for a first- time home buyer’s grant, and that was definitely the right decision for us and it might be the right decision for you.
Looking for a home but not sure what all of the names mean? Cape Cod? Bungalow? While there are many types of homes and many variations of those types in America, there are a handful of common styles that you should be familiar with when searching for the perfect house. While we’ve covered a few styles before, there are additional designs to consider. Whether you are looking for a starter home, a long-term residence or a place to accommodate a growing family, check out the following five types of homes and their features before you embark on your house hunting journey.
Bungalow: The word “bungalow” is often used to refer to any small 20th century home that uses space efficiently. The style was originally popular because more people could achieve the American dream of homeownership because they were affordable, yet had architectural appeal that before could only be enjoyed by the wealthy. Today, this type of home can reflect several architectural styles but most typically contain the following features:
- Either one- or one-and-a half stories with a low-pitched roof and a horizontal shape
- Most of the living spaces are on the main floor with the living room located in the center
- Rooms are interconnected without the use of hallways
Cape Cod: In the past, this style featured shutters to protect windows during a storm and a large chimney in the center of the roof which linked to fireplaces in each room. Modern Cape Cods only have decorative shutters and cannot be closed during a storm. Chimneys are now typically placed at one end of the roof instead of the center. Features include:
- Either one- or one-and-a half stories with a steep roof and a small roof overhang
- The home is constructed of wood, covered with clapboard or shingles and boasts a symmetrical appearance with a center door
- Architecture includes multi-paned windows, dormers (which are created as usable space with windows in the roof) and a formal floor plan usually with hardwood floors.
Colonial: Easily identifiable, this popular American house style has been incorporated into other home designs of the 20th century and is similar in ways to the Cape Cod. It features a symmetrical façade, multi-paned windows with shutters and fireplaces but boasts a more structured appearance reflecting designs of early American settlements. Features include:
- Two to three stories with a rectangular shape, a gabled roof (both sides slope at the same angle) and dormers
- Construction is made of brick or wood siding and includes regal-looking columns or pillars
- Grand entrances and porticos reveal living areas on the first floor while bedrooms are located on upper levels
Ranch: Uniquely American, ranch style homes can be found in virtually every part of the country. The layout is horizontal and can be rectangular, L-shaped or U-shaped and is popular because each room is easily accessible and interchangeable. A family room can be transformed into a home office or a formal dining room can become a library by adding French doors and appropriate furniture. These features of versatility include:
- A single story with a brick, wood or stucco exterior, simple trim and often an attached garage
- Large picture windows and sliding glass doors which can lead to a patio or backyard
- Floor plans are open versus the divided rooms intrinsic to other home styles
Split-Level: Found mostly in the east and Midwest, this style of house is characterized by different floor elevations. The floor level of one area of the house is half way between the floor and ceiling of another part of the house. Its popularity was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright who believed that half floors would blend naturally with the landscape. Divided entry details include:
- Three or more levels with the main entrance typically located in the middle level
- The front door can open to a landing or foyer with a small flight of stairs leading up and another leading down. Alternatively, the front door can open directly to the main living area with the stairs located in another place.
- Living activities are separated as sleeping, eating, socializing and parking are done on different levels of the house.
By understanding the structure and features of common home designs, you can determine which types of homes will accommodate your lifestyle and personal goals.