Most buyers know the difference between a basic bungalow and a two-storey home. Both housing styles are fully detached with the number of floors as the key distinguishing factor.
However, it can start to get confusing for house hunters reading descriptions that include back split, side split, split level, and others. Even when photos are available, a prospective buyer may have a hard time envisioning how a specific home style might align with how they plan to use the space.
How and where square footage is distributed in a home will often influence how that property is used by its occupants. Conversely, buyers are usually seeking a home that can match up their lifestyle with the way the space is allocated.
As a result, it can be helpful to understand the difference between home types.
Let’s take a look at the eight main categories of single family home styles most often seen in Canada.
Popular with empty nesters, these single storey homes have most of the living space contained on one floor. Except for those that may be contained at the entrance, this style of home has no stairs. This property type usually features an open concept design.
Often found in mature neighbourhoods, these stair-free homes are ideal for older couples who may have mobility issues. Larger versions of this property type are known as ranch style bungalows and may include additional square footage on the main floor along with an attached garage.
Bi-Level or Split Entrance
This type of home is also classified as a bungalow however it has two floors that are divided, or split.
A common design has the front door opening to a set of stairs that either go up to the main floor, usually containing the main living area and kitchen, or directly down to the lower floor. This lower floor is a secondary living area and is usually above grade, permitting more sunlight.
Often confused with the bi-level or split entrance home that has two levels, this property style is characterized by three or more floors of living area and may go up as high as five levels.
A three-floor layout will often have the den or family room on the lower level, living room, dining room and kitchen on the main level, with the bedrooms and a main bathroom on the upper floor.
The side-split version offers a left-to-right design, while the back-split offers a front-to-back layout.
In this home type, the majority of living area is found on the first floor.
In some cases the master bedroom is found on the main level, with additional bedrooms upstairs. In other styles, all bedrooms are on the main floor and the second level will feature a bonus room or usable attic.
The signature identifier for this home style is its high-pitched roof, allowing additional living area. However, because the home is not actually two full storeys, the rooms upstairs may have angled ceilings.
This is currently one of the most popular detached home styles in Canada.
On the main floor you will usually find the living room, kitchen, and dining room, with the bedrooms located on the second level.
With two full floors of living area and no angled ceilings like in the one and a half storey, this design allows for much more total square footage than the other housing options.
The style is popular with homeowners because of its spacious interior spread across two floors. It also allows buyers to maximize the use of space while keeping land costs down.
This home type is similar to a detached home with separately deeded lots and individual title to the land.
The key difference is that a semi-detached appears as a single building divided by a shared wall in the middle, with two separate entrances and garages.
Semi-detached homes that share a common wall are often mirror images of each other.
Townhouse or Row House
Similar to a semi-detached, the main difference in the townhouse design is that instead of two units joined together, it includes three or more units connected by multiple shared walls.
A townhouse may be freehold which means the land and the building are deeded to the owner, while some portion of the land area outside the townhouse is shared. For example, in a common element condominium, the road may be owned by a condo corporation while the building and land belongs to the townhouse owner.
In other cases, a condo townhouse may have portions of the building or land shared by the condo corporation. Be sure to speak with your REALTOR® to determine which category townhome you are considering.
This home type may appear to be fully detached when looking from the outside, however it is misleading.
The linked home style connects two houses together through a shared concrete wall that can often be found below grade at the basement level. In other cases, the common wall is found in the garage.
If the home appears especially close to the property line in comparison to other areas of the neighbourhood, it may be a linked dwelling.
Check with your REALTOR® to determine the status of the house you are considering, just to be sure. Additional information can also be found on the MLS® listing.***
Reference: Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO)(2019).
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