5 Basic House Types and Their Pros and Cons: From Bungalow to a Multi-level


If you’ve ever been involved in a house hunt, either for yourself or someone close to you, you’ll know that there are many different types of houses. Of course, there are differences in colour, location, materials, lot shape, and more, but there are some general construction types that describe the shape and layout of the home.


Each type has its pros and cons, and each has its own base of fans, depending on their preferences and their needs in a home.



ranch style house

A bungalow (also known as ranch in the USA) is a one-story home, with or without a basement. They are known to be very comfortable to live in as there are no stairs, a huge win for people with accessibility issues, such as most seniors and families with small children. Though most will assume that these houses are small because there is only one level, they can be deceivingly large.


Bungalows can be quite expensive though, since you need a lot of surface area to attain the square footage you need. This might not be an issue in places where land is cheap, but in more established neighborhoods closer to the center, the price of the land and property taxes can be higher than what you would expect.





backsplit home

A backsplit is a home that seems to be a bungalow from the front but transitions into being at least two stories in the back. In most cases, there will be a staircase in the middle of the home, with stairs going up to the top floor and stairs going down to the bottom floor while discontinuing at the elevation the entrance was at. This is a popular model for builders constructing on an elevation as it allows them to adapt the natural contour of the land.


Those who like the look of a bungalow yet want a more extensive square footage can appreciate the orientation of a backsplit.  However, for those who are looking for a grand entrance, the backsplit can seem a little humble and the stairs can be tiresome for those who have trouble with them.





sidesplit house

A sidesplit is essentially a backsplit that has been rotated for the split between levels to be visible from the street. When you walk in from the ground level, on either or your left or right you will have that essential stair case that will be leading to the two levels, one higher and one lower than the ground level. This build was especially popular in the 1950’s when the lots were wide but shallow.


The sidesplit is known to be a comfortable layout for those who like a separation from their bedroom space from the living space but want to avoid climbing a lot of stairs. The wide lot can be very spectacular and have great curb appeal, especially for avid gardeners. Those looking for a modern home might find this style a little too dated, but these do have a unique look.




multilevel house

When lots became narrower, builders looked for ways to create more space with what they had available, resulting in the multilevel home. These can have any number of stories, some being separated by just a few stairs while others by a whole set of them. From the outside, these homes are often tall, and can look quite regal, allowing for many interesting features from columns to oversized windows.


The stairs can be limiting to those who have difficulties with them, but for the rest of us, they can be a great way to get some cardio in! The square footage is usually pretty high, with many separated spaces that can be designated for different usages like a playroom, living room, office, etc.


Raised Bungalow:

raised bungalow
Photo: VanderMeer Homes

The raised bungalow is something of a hybrid between a bungalow and a backsplit. It often has a few stairs up to the entrance where it immediately divides into two levels after the landing. The upper level has most of the living and bedroom space while the lower level has other recreational uses like a family room, laundry room, etc. The lower level can be partially underground at some points, making it something between a level and furnished basement, meaning that though the home might look relatively large, it’s actually quite cozy.


This is a good layout for those who want a more traditional look and like the comfort of a bungalow but want more liveable space.




Though there are definitely more than 5 types of homes in the Kitchener Waterloo area, most of them will fall into these categories. Is there a certain kind of home that you see yourself in or, instead, never want to live in? Let me know during our initial meeting and we can start looking for your dream home!


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