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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Northern European single-family home in Denmark.

A single-family detached home, or single-family home or detached house for short, also variously known as a single-detached dwelling, single-family dwelling, or separate house (see below), is a free-standing residential building. Most single-family homes are built on lots larger than the structure itself, adding an area surrounding the house, which is commonly called a yard in North American English or a garden in British English. Garages can also be found on most lots. In older homes, they are typically detached, standing as a separate building, either near a driveway or facing an alley in urban areas. Newer homes in North America favor attached garages, often facing the street, as most recent developments do not include alleys. Houses with an attached front entry garage that is closer to the street than any other part of the house is often derisively called a snout house.

The Saitta House, Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, New York, built in 1899 is a single-family detached home.[1]

Typically only members of a single family live in this type of house, yet in the wider sense it refers to a single party of people.

The counterparts to single-family homes are apartment complexes, condominiums, duplexes, semi-detached houses, or townhomes/terrace houses, where several families live in the same structure.

There are advantages and disadvantages to single-detached homes. Advantages are that the entire space around the building is private to the owner and family, in most cases (depending on federal, state/provincial and local laws) you can add on to the existing house if more room is needed and there are generally no property management fees such as the ones associated with condominiums and townhomes.

There are also many disadvantages to owning a single-family detached home. All maintenance and repair costs—interior, exterior and everything in between—are at the owner's expense. There is often a lack of amenities such as pools and playgrounds (although some single-detached homes do have these features within the lot or nearby, their owners are commonly required to pay a homeowners fee as those in condos or townhomes). Landscaping and lawn upkeep costs are at the owner's expense.

Large, inner city neighborhoods are so densely populated that there is generally not room for houses devoted to just a single family. Yet the outer districts of larger cities are usually transitional areas with equal shares of smaller apartment buildings and single-detached homes.

Among the wealthy industrialized nations, single-detached homes are most common in the United States, Canada, Australia, Northern Europe and New Zealand.


Inside: rooms

A sample floor plan of a single-detached home

A single-detached house in Western culture usually has at least the rooms in the first list below. The terminology used in different English-speaking countries varies somewhat.

  • Living room (formerly parlor in the U.S. (but in the UK a parlour was often a dining room); also called the lounge in the UK and lounge room in Australia; other terms used in the UK are sitting room and drawing room, the latter now generally only in grander old style properties): Usually the largest room of the house, used for relaxing and entertaining guests.
  • Kitchen: Food preparation is done here. Some homes feature eat-in kitchens where the family has its meals in the same room as the food is prepared in.
  • Bedroom: Any type of house features at least one bedroom providing a space to sleep.
  • Bathroom: The room where grooming is taken care of, containing a bathtub and possibly a shower. It may be combined with a toilet and include a sink or washbasin. Americans call rooms with a toilet, and no bath or shower a half-bath.

Furthermore, most average houses feature some or many of these rooms:

  • Front room: in American English this refers to the room that you first step into upon entering a house; for bigger homes this room is commonly called a hall, foyer, vestibule or entry hall; for small houses, on the other hand, it may be called hallway; in more simple places this is the room where outer garments are kept as are shoes. In British English a front room is a sitting room at the front of a house, and very often does not contain the entryway.
  • Dining room: When more space is available, the food is eaten in a room separate from the kitchen, the dining room; sometimes the room may be referred to as a formal dining room to highlight the fact that casual everyday meals are commonly eaten in the kitchen, a breakfast nook, or a family room. In British English, a combined food preparation and eating room is a kitchen-diner (mainly 20th century term, out of fashion), a kitchen-breakfast room, or an eat-in-kitchen. Some houses have a separate breakfast room.
  • Family room: Most often the casual living room that is set apart from the living room by its use, this room is less formal and thus children's toys may be kept out and most often this is the spot for any multimedia entertainment equipment. It is designed to support the need for relaxation and ease of the owner.
  • Formal living room: the formal room of the house used for representative purposes such as picture taking and entertaining guests. In the UK such a room may be referred to as the drawing room.
  • Storage room: Bulky goods such as suitcases are stored here; sometimes this is the spot for the washer and dryer in case the following room is not a part of the house.
  • Laundry room (North American and Australian English) / utility room (British English): The big appliances are situated in this space as may be a storage of linens or cleaning supplies. Utility room is the standard term in British English, but some grand older British houses still have a laundry (just "laundry", not laundry room).
  • Study: For self-employed workers and home-workers this may also be called home-office and features the office furnishings one needs for work, such as desks, computers, telecommunication devices and peripherals.

The following rooms can be found in more spacious or luxurious homes:

  • Library: A more imposing study, usually featuring a great selection of books, artwork and trophies. In the UK a study is a private room for the owner of the house, but a library is generally open for use by family members and guests.
  • Playroom: a common term for a children's recreation room in the UK; its function overlaps with that of a family room, and some large houses have both.
  • Wine cellar: In case the owner is interested in wine, a special room can be added to the house where wine is kept in the dark and at the right temperature.
  • Studio: For artists and art-lovers this room is used as a creative space.
  • Game room (American English) / games room (British English): For games like pool/billiards, table tennis, or darts; it may feature a bar. In the UK if the main feature of the room is a full-size billiard/snooker table the room is likely to be referred to as the billiard room (in an older house dating to the era when billiards was the most popular cue sport in the UK, this type of room was standard in Victorian country houses) or the snooker room (in a modern house, as snooker is now more popular).
  • Bonus Room: An "anything" room that could contain anything from a bed to a pinball machine. Usually built when the house features all the basic rooms, and space is still available. This term is not used in the UK.
  • Media room / home cinema: A media room is becoming much more popular with the broad array of flat screen TVs and surround sound systems becoming more available and affordable today.
  • Music room: a living room set aside for music practice and performance. Prevalent in large houses in the 18th and 19th centuries. Not generally found nowadays except in older houses where it has been carried forward since that era.


Montreal houses

Terms in use are single-family home (in the U.S. and Canada), single-detached dwelling (in Canada), detached house (in the United Kingdom and Canada), separate house (in New Zealand).

In the United Kingdom, the term single-family home is almost unknown, except through internet exposure to U.S. media. While in the U.S. housing is commonly divided into "single-family homes", "multi-family dwellings", and "Condo/Townhouse" etc., the primary division of residential property in British terminology is between "houses" (including "detached", "semi-detached" and "terraced" houses and bungalows) and "flats" (i.e. "apartments" or "condominiums" in American English).

Separating types of homes

House types include:

  • Cottage, a small house. In the U.S. a cottage typically has four main rooms, two either side of a central corridor. It is common to find a lean-to added to the back of the cottage which may accommodate the kitchen, laundry and bathroom. In Australia, it is common for a cottage to have a verandah across its front. In the UK and Ireland any small, old (especially pre World War I) house in a rural or formerly rural location whether with one, two or (rarely) three storeys is a cottage.
  • Bungalow, in American English this term describes a medium to large sized freestanding house on a generous block in the suburbs, with generally less formal floor plan than a villa. Some rooms in a bungalow typically have doors which link them together. Bungalows may feature a flat roof. In British English it refers to any single storey house (which are much rarer in the UK than the U.S.)
  • Villa, a term originating from Roman times, when it was used to refer to a large house which one might retreat to in the country. In the late 19th and early 20th century villa suggested a freestanding comfortable sized house, on a large block, generally found in the suburbs.
  • Mansion, a very large house, usually of more than one story, on a very large block of land or estate.


Common Single-family homes in the United States and Canada

Homes outside the United States and Canada

See also


  1. ^Saitta House - Report Part 1”,

External links



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