Which Home Type Is Right for You?
If you are an average American, you will live in one home for seven years before moving on to the next. Therefore, you had better be satisfied with your selection -- or you might find yourself packing up every few years as your situation changes. Before you start the house-hunting process, become familiar with the various home types options available to you. This way, you'll be happy with your choice for many years to come!
When looking for the perfect home type, you need to consider a number of different things: Do you want to maintain a yard and pool? Is this your first house? Do you like renovation projects? Are you longing for quiet and privacy? Is you family expanding? Do you have a limited budget? Are you an empty nester? Each one of these questions (and more) play into the type of house you choose.
Fortunately, builders have taken these questions into consideration and have designed a variety of different home types to suit almost everyone. You just need to be aware of the differences and how they will meet your needs – now and in the future.
A single-family home is one that is not attached to another structure and is constructed on a separate lot. They are available in single level, two- and three-story versions. They range from newly constructed to historic and come in a wide variety of architectural styles.
You can choose a single family home of any size -- from modest starter homes to McMansions. Some of these homes look more like hotels with lots of bedrooms, large living areas and spacious yards – perfect for large or growing families.
On the other end of the spectrum, they can consist of a single-level with one or two bedrooms and a small, low maintenance yard – there are many of these types available in age-restricted communities that are specifically designed for seniors.
Semi-detached, twin or duplex homes are harder to find than other types, but do exist in the US. More popular in British Commonwealth countries, duplexes are gaining popularity here in the states. In the US, the term duplex refers to a pair of connected houses that are basically mirror images of one another.
They occupy a single lot (that can be divided by a fence or wall) and share one common wall. They can be single level or two-story. Duplexes make great starter homes or a budget-friendly option for empty nesters on a fixed income.
Condominiums, or condos, are individually owned, attached units configured much like an apartment complex or high rise. Condos offer common facilities like a green space, pool, spa and fitness center. Typically a condo building and its residents are governed by Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) set forth by the Homeowners’ Association (HOA).
The association collects monthly fees from owners to cover maintenance and improvements on the entire property. The association also sets forth rules and regulations that residents must agree to follow. (Homeowners’ Associations are also common in other types of housing developments.)
Condos are particularly attractive as vacation homes, or for young professionals, seniors and anyone craving a low-maintenance lifestyle. However, if you’re not crazy about being physically close to your neighbors, you probably won’t enjoy condo life.
I think of townhouses as the vertical equivalents of condos. Townhouses are multi-story units that resemble row houses. They are attached to units on either side, but do not have to contend with upstairs or downstairs neighbors. Townhouses are a good mix of privacy (like a single-family home) and low-maintenance (like a condo).
Townhouse owners might have a small yard, attached garage and enjoy a community pool. HOA dues may cover the cost of some exterior maintenance such as landscape, paint and roofs, but that varies from one community to another. Residents may also be regulated CC&Rs.
Manufactured or Modular
A manufactured home, or mobile home, is assembled off-site in a factory. They are transported by truck to a home site via a transport frame with wheels. Once at the home site, the wheels are removed and the home is secured in place on a pad or block foundation.
Manufactured homes come in various sizes and styles. Some consist of two separate components (double-wide) that are joined on site. Manufactured homes are much less expensive than traditional homes and are extremely popular among retirees.
Modular homes are constructed in sections in a factory setting. The large modules are transported to the home site and are assembled on a foundation. Many of today's modular homes are made of eco-friendly materials and are built to strict energy efficiency standards.
Labor and materials costs for modular homes are less than traditional construction, but cost more than manufactured homes. However, once on-site assembly is completed, the house is considered a permanent residence and cannot be moved to another location, unlike manufactured homes.
A relatively newcomer on the home scene, tiny homes are perfect for those wishing too downsize and simplify their lives. Most tiny homes have a footprint of 500 square feet or less. They are great for empty-nesters living on a fixed income or first-time homeowners who don't want to be saddled with a mortgage.
You can find pre-made tiny homes or builders that will build to your specifications. Prices range from $10,000 and up, depending on size and features. Choose an off-grid model and shrink your carbon footprint. Solar panels, water tanks and composting toilets allow you to avoid monthly utility bills. Tiny homes can be built on-site or on a trailer allowing you to easily transport your home.
Which type of home do you live in?
© 2012 lindacee