Houses can be built in a large variety of configurations. A basic division is between free-standing or Single-family houses and various types of attached or multi-user dwellings. Both sorts may vary greatly in scale and amount of accommodation provided. Although there appear to be many different types, many of the variations listed below are purely matters of style rather than spatial arrangement or scale. Some of the terms listed are only used in some parts of the English-speaking world.
A-frame: so-called because of the appearance of the structure, namely steep roofline.
Addison house: a type of low-cost house with metal floors and cavity walls made of concrete blocks, mostly built in the United Kingdom and in Ireland during 1920 through 1921 to provide housing for soldiers, sailors, and airmen who had returned home from the First World War.
Airey house: a type of low-cost house that was developed in the United Kingdom during in the 1940s by Sir Edwin Airey, and then widely constructed between 1945 and 1960 to provide housing for soldiers, sailors, and airmen who had returned home from World War II. These are recognizable by their precast concrete columns and by their walls made of precast "ship-lap" concrete panels.
Cracker House: a style of wood-framework house built rather widely in the 19th century in Florida and Southern Georgia. Note that the former Atlanta Crackers pro baseball team was named because of the many "crackers" who lived in Georgia decades ago.
Deck House: a custom-built post-and-beam house using high-quality woods and masonry.
Link-detached: adjacent detached properties that do not have a party wall, but which are linked by their garages - and so presenting a single frontage to their street or avenue.
Linked houses: "row-houses" or "semi-detached houses" that are linked structurally only in their foundations. Above ground, these houses appear to be detached houses. Linking up their foundations cuts the cost of constructing them.
Mews property: a mews is an urbanstable-block that has often been converted into residential properties. The houses may have been converted into ground floor garages with a small flat above which used to house the ostler or just a garage with no living quarters.
Microhouse: a dwelling that fulfills all the requirements of habitation (shelter, sleep, cooking, heating, toilet) in a very compact space. These are quite common in densely populated Asian countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Microapartment: rather common in the same countries where microhouses (above) are popular. These small single-room dwellings contain a kitchen, a bathroom, a sleeping area, etc., in one place, usually in a multistorey building.
Minka A general term for traditional houses in Japan.
Pit-house: a prehistoric house type used on many continents and of many styles, partially sunken into the ground.
Plank house: A general term for houses built using planks in a variety of ways, this article as of 2012 only discusses Native American plank houses
Pole house: a timber house in which a set of vertical poles carry the load of all of its suspended floors and roof, allowing all of its walls to be non-load-bearing.
Prefabricated house: a house whose main structural sections were manufactured in a factory, and then transported to their final building site to be assembled upon a concrete foundation, which had to be poured locally.
Queenslander: a house most commonly built in the tropical areas of Australia, especially in the State of Queensland and in the Northern Territory. These are constructed on top of high concrete piers or else upon the stumps of felled trees in order to allow cooling breezes to flow beneath them, and often they have a wide veranda, or porch, that runs partially or completely the way around the house. See the Cracker House, above, which was quite similar to this one.
Ranch: a rambling single-storey house, often containing a garage and sometimes constructed over a basement.
Split-level house: a design of house that was commonly built during the 1950s and 1960s. It has two nearly equal sections that are located on two different levels, with a short stairway in the corridor connecting them. This kind of house is quite suitable for building on slanted or hilly land.
Shotgun house: a style of house that was initially popular in New Orleans starting around 1830, and spread from there to other urban areas throughout the Southern U.S. Its peak period of popularity ran from the Civil War to the Great Depression. This house typically follows the structure of living room, bedrooms, then the bathroom, and kitchen as the last room of the house. The reason for the name is because it all sits in one straight line from front to back.
Spanish Colonial Revival architecture Based on the Spanish Colonial architecture from the Spanish colonization of the Americas, the Spanish Colonial Revival style updated these forms and detailing for a new century and culture.
Stilt houses or Pile dwellings: houses raised on stilts over the surface of the soil or a body of water.
Snout house: a house with the garage door being the closest part of the dwelling to the street.
Backsplit: multi-level house that appears as a bungalow from the front elevation.
Frontsplit: multilevel house that appears as a two-storey house in front and a bungalow in the back. It is the opposite of a backsplit and is a rare configuration.
Sidesplit: multi-level house where the different levels are visible from the front elevation view.
Storeybook houses: 1920s houses inspired by Hollywood set design.
Unity house: a type of low-cost dwelling built in the United Kingdom during the 1940s and 1950s. These contain walls made of stacked concrete panels between concrete pillars. About 19,000 of these houses were constructed in the UK.
Duplex house: commonly refers to two separate residences, attached side-by-side, but the term is sometimes used to mean stacked apartments on two different floors (particularly in urban areas such as New York and San Francisco). (See Two decker) The duplex house often looks like either two houses put together, or as a large single home, and both legally and structurally, literally shares a wall between halves. The duplex home can appear as a single townhouse section with two different entrances, though the occasional duplex with a shared common entrance and entry hall have been constructed. The jargon terms "triplex" and "four-plex" are contrived names that refer to similar structures with three or four housing units, or floors if referring to apartments, and again the characteristic sharing of structural walls, as are the townhouse and six pack forms that adapted the savings in materials and costs of a shared load bearing wall.
Two-family home or two-family house: the generic American real estate business jargon for a small apartment house or a duplex house that contain two dwelling units. In advertisements, "two-family home" is the generally used jargon.
Two decker (A Double decker building plan): since real-estate advertising generally specifies correctly whether the two-family home is a duplex-house type these are usually more desirable for both rentals or purchases.
Specific terms under various American federal, state, or local laws dealing with fair housing, truth in advertising, and so forth, have been prescribed and engender specific legal meanings. For example, in American housing codes, all "apartments" must contain a kitchen, bathing facilities, and a sleeping area, or else that term may not be used. This generates various differences within the English-speaking world, and the terms such as "single-family", "two-family", or "three-family" building, residence, house, home, or property can be generic and thus convey little or no building plan (style of building) information. Such terminology is most common in advertising and real-estate markets that offer leasing of such units, or sales of such buildings.
Apartment: a relatively self-contained housing unit in a building which is often rented out to one person or a family, or two or more people sharing a lease in a partnership, for their exclusive use. Sometimes called a flat or digs (slang). Some locales have legal definitions of what constitutes an apartment. In some locations, "apartment" denotes a building that was built specifically for such units, whereas "flat" denotes a unit in a building that had been originally built as a single-family house, but later on subdivided into some multi-unit house type.
Apartment building, Block of flats: a multi-unit dwelling made up of several (generally four or more) apartments. Contrast this with the two-family house and the three-family dwelling.
Barracks: a type of military housing, formerly connoting a large "open bay" with rows of bunk beds and attached bathroom facilities, but during the most recent several decades for the American Armed Forces most of the new housing units for unmarried servicemen have been constructed with a dormitory-style layout housing two to four servicemembers. This dormitory-styling providing additional privacy has been found to promote the retention of trained personnel in the all-volunteer Armed Forces of the United States.
Bedsit: A British expression (short for bed-sitting room) for a single-roomed dwelling in a sub-divided larger house. The standard type contains a kitchenette or basic cooking facilities in a combined bedroom/living area, with a separate bathroom and lavatory shared between a number of rooms. Once common in older Victorian properties in British cities, they are less frequently found since the 1980s as a result of tenancy reforms, property prices and renovation grants that favour the refurbishment of such properties into self-contained flats for leasehold sale.
Close: Term used in Glasgow for high density slum housing built 1800-1870. Tenements usually 3 or 4 stories, terraced, back-to-back, around a short cul-de-sac.
Cluster house: an older form of the Q-type house (see below)
Condominium: a form of ownership with individual apartments for everyone, and co-ownership (by percentages) of all of the common areas, such as corridors, hallways, stairways, lobbies, recreation rooms, porches, rooftops, and any outdoor areas of the grounds of the buildings.
Court: High density slum housing built in the UK, 1800-1870. Two or more stories, terraced, back-to-back, around a short alley at right angles to the main street. Once common in cities like Liverpool and Leeds.
Deck access: a block of "flats" which are accessed from a walkway that is open to the elements.
Flat: In Great Britain and Ireland, this means exactly the same as an "apartment". In and around San Francisco, Calif., this term means an apartment that takes up an entire floor of a large house, usually one that has been converted from an older Victorian house.
2-Flat, 3-Flat, and 4-Flat houses: Houses or buildings with 2, 3, or 4 flats, respectively, especially when each of the flats takes up one entire floor of the house. There is a common stairway in the front and often in the back providing access to all the flats. 2-Flats and sometimes 3-flats are common in certain older neighborhoods.
Four Plus One: an apartment building consisting of four stories above a parking lot. The four floors containing the apartment units are of wood-frame and masonry construction. It was particularly popular in Chicago during the 1960s and 1970s, especially on the city's north side.
Garage-apartment: an apartment over a garage; if the garage is attached, the apartment will have a separate entrance from the main house.
Garalow: a portmanteau word "garage" + "bungalow"; similar to a garage-apartment, but with the apartment and garage at the same level.
Garden apartment: a building style usually characterized by two story, semi-detached buildings, each floor being a separate apartment.
Garden flat: a flat which is at garden (ground) level in a multilevel house or apartment building, especially in the case of Georgian and Victorian terraced housing which has been sub-divided into separate dwellings.
Housing cooperative (or Co-op): a form of ownership in which a non-profit corporation owns the entire apartment building or development and residents own shares in the corporation that correspond to their apartment and a percentage of common areas. In Australia this corresponds with a "company title" apartment.
Live Work: a townhouse / row house having a retail, office or workshop on the ground floor with living premises of the building proprietor and occupier (the one person) of the ground floor commercial space above e.g. like the traditional high street Victorian grocer. Normally with fire rated separation.
Loft or warehouse conversion can be an apartment building wherein part of the unit, usually consisting of the bedroom(s) and/or a second bedroom level bath is sub-divided vertically within the structurally tall bay between the structural floors of a former factory or warehouse building. The lofts created in such are locally supported by columns and bearing walls and not part of the overall original load bearing structure.
Maisonette: an apartment / flat on two levels with internal stairs, or which has its own entrance at street level.
Mess: a building or flat with single bedroom per tenant and shared facilities like toilets and kitchens. These are popular with students, bachelors or low wage earners in the Indian subcontinent. It is similar to the bedsit in the UK. Some variants include multiple tenants per bedroom and inclusion of a centralized maid service or cooked meals with tenancy.
Mother-in-law apartment: small apartment either at the back, in the basement, or on an upper level subdivision of the main house, usually with a separate entrance (also known as a "Granny flat" in the UK, Australia and New Zealand). If it is a separate structure from the main house, it is called a 'granny cottage' or a 'doddy house'. Such Secondary suites are often efficiency or two room apartments but always have kitchen facilities (which is usually a legal requirement of any apartment).
Officetel: small apartment providing a combined work and living area in one place, especially in South Korea.
Q-type:townhouse built mainly in housing estates in the UK beginning in the late 20th century. The houses are arranged in blocks of four with each house at a corner of the block. Similar to the earlier cluster house (see above).
Rooming house: a type of Single Room Occupancy building where most washing, kitchen and laundry facilities are shared between residents, which may also share a common suite of living rooms and dining room, with or without board arrangements. When board is provided (no longer common), a common dining time and schedule is imposed by the landlord who in such cases also serves as an innkeeper of sorts. In Australia and the United States, any housing accommodation with 4 or more bedrooms can be regarded as a rooming house if each bedroom is subject to individual tenancy agreements. In the U.S., rooming house lease agreements typically run for very short periods, usually week to week, or a few days at a time. Transient housing arrangements for longer term tenancies are implemented by a "rider" on a case by case basis, if local laws permit.
Rowhouse (USA); also called "Terraced home" (USA); also called "Townhouse": 3 or more houses in a row sharing a "party" wall with its adjacent neighbour. In New York and Boston, "Brownstones" are rowhouses. Rowhouses are typically multiple stories. The term townhouse is currently coming into wider use in the UK, but terraced house (not "terraced home") is more common.
Shophouse: the name given in Southeast Asia to a terraced two to five story urban building featuring a shop or other public activity on the street level, with residential accommodation on upper floors.
Single Room Occupancy or SRO: a studio apartment, usually occurring with a block of many similar apartments, intended for use as public housing. They may or may not have their own washing, laundry, and kitchen facilities. In the United States, lack of kitchen facilities prevents use of the term "apartment", so such would be classified as a boarding house or hotel.
Six-pack: In New England (USA), this refers to a stick-built block of 6 apartments comprising (duplexed) two three story Triple deckers built side by side sharing one wall, a common roof, lot, yards (lawns and gardens, if any), parking arrangements, and basement, but possessing separately metered electric, and separate hot water and heating or air conditioning. In Australia, it refers to a style of apartments that were constructed during the 1960s, 70s and early 80s, usually comprising a single, masonry-built block containing 4 to 8 walk-up apartments (though sometimes, many more), of between 2 and 3 stories in height, with car parking at the side or rear.
Studio apartment or Studio flat (UK), or Bachelor apartment or Efficiency apartment: a suite with a single room that doubles as living/sitting room and bedroom, with a kitchenette and bath squeezed in off to one side. The unit is designed for a single occupant or possibly a couple. Especially in Canada and South Africa, also called bachelor, or bachelorette if very small.
Tenement: a multi-unit dwelling usually of frame construction, quite often brick veneered, made up of several (generally many more than four to six) apartments (i.e. a large apartment building) that can be up to five stories. Tenements do not generally have elevators. In the United States the connotation sometimes implies a run-down or poorly cared-for building. It often refers to a very large apartment building usually constructed during the late 19th to early 20th century era sited in cities or company towns.
Terraced house: Since the late 18th century is a style of housing where (generally) identical individual houses are conjoined into rows - a line of houses which abut directly on to each other built with shared party walls between dwellings whose uniform fronts and uniform height created an ensemble that was more stylish than a "rowhouse". However this is also the UK term for a "rowhouse" regardless of whether the houses are identical or not.
Townhouse: also called Rowhouse (US). In the UK, a townhouse is a traditional term for an upper class house in London (in contrast with country house), and is now coming into use as a term for new terraced houses, which are often three or more stories tall and may include a garage on the ground floor.
Stacked townhouse: Units are stacked on each other; units may be multilevel; all units have direct access from the outside.
Three family home or Three family house — U.S. real estate and advertising term for several configurations of apartment classed dwelling buildings including:
Triple decker: a three-family apartment house, usually of frame construction, in which all three apartment units are stacked on top of one another. (For additional characteristics, also see Multifamily home features below.)
Two decker: a two family house consisting of stacked apartments that frequently have similar or identical floor plans. Some two deckers, usually ones starting as single-family homes, have one or both floors sub-divided and are therefore three or four-family dwellings. Some have external stairways giving a totally separate entrance, and some, usually those which have been a single-family house now sub-divided, are similar to the Maisonette plan but sharing a common external 'main entrance' door and lock, and a main internal hall with stairways letting to the separate apartments. (For additional characteristics, also see Multifamily home features below.)
Tyneside flat: a pair of single-storey flats in a two-storey terrace, distinctively with two separate front doors to the street rather than a shared lobby. Notably found on Tyneside, North Eastern England.
Multifamily home features
Tenants usually have some portion of the basement and/or common attic.
Fire regulations strictly require a separate emergency egress for all apartments under U.S. laws and national fire codes.
Utilities are either paid as part of the rent, or (now predominant) the units have separately provided heat, air conditioning, electrical distribution panels and meters, and sometimes (uncommonly) water metering, separating all secondary housing costs by rental unit. Common lighting may or may not be off a separate meter and circuitry in subdivided former single-family dwellings.
Leasehold documents will specify other common factors such as specific parking rights, rights to common spaces such as lawn and gardens on the premises, storage or garage (usually a detached unit, that cannot economically be converted into an additional housing unit) facilities and details such as who has responsibility for upkeep, snow removal, lawn care, and so forth.