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What Exactly Is A Single Family Home?

Maybe you don’t know a single thing about a “single-family home,” other than you’ve heard this type of house can be a good option when it comes to home buying. The legal description for a single-family home is “a structure maintained and used as a single dwelling unit.” But what you might not know is that in order to be classified as a single-family home, a structure must meet the following specific requirements.

Photo: Flickr/Darwin Dillon

One Owner

The name is self-explanatory:  A single-family home serves as the residence for one person, family, or household.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Timo Newton-Syms

Private And Direct Entrance/Exit

As opposed to an apartment or condo complex, a single-family home has its own private and direct access to a street or thoroughfare. So if you’re looking for an inviting and luxurious lobby space in which to linger, this house isn’t for you.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/OhanaSurf

Stand-Alone Structure

For those who value quiet and privacy, a stand-alone, single-family home offers multiple advantages:  total detachment from other properties, no common walls, and no common roof with any other dwelling.


Single Kitchen

Feel like there’s too many cooks in the kitchen? Then a single-family home might not be the best choice for you as this kind of home has only one kitchen. Adding a kitchen to a carriage house or an in-law suite will require changing the home’s zoning classification.

Photo: Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures

One Set Of Utilities

In terms of monthly expenses, a single-family home can fit the bill when it comes to utilities:  Only one set of utilities can service the home with heating, electricity, and water, and may not be shared in any way with another residence.

Photo: Living in Dryden

Private Land

Share and share alike sounds good in theory, but isn’t all that practical when it comes to the land on which your home is situated. A single-family home offers the advantage of no shared land or property, and is built on its own land parcel.

Photo: Flickr/Jen

Singular Advantages…

A single-family home might be a good choice for you if you’re looking for privacy and distance from neighbors. In addition, this type of home offers a choice of several different architectural styles, everything from midcentury modern and ranch to Colonial and Cape Cod. You can also count on finding some extra space to store exercise or athletic equipment, hobby materials, treasured heirlooms, and clutter you just haven’t gotten around to donating or tossing — most single-family homes have an attic or garage.

Photo: PxHere

…And Disadvantages

The price of a single-family home tends to be higher, given that you’re also purchasing an entire lot, which could translate into a larger down payment and closing costs. You’ll also need to consider recurring expenses such as property taxes on the full lot you’re purchasing. Also, keep in mind that if you’re looking for a fully furnished gym, a luxurious pool, or other such common areas for mixing and mingling, you might want to turn your sights to an apartment, condo, or townhouse complex. A single-family home, after all, is more about your independence than interacting with others.