Types of Residential Buildings With Pictures and Names

There are 5 principal residential building types to choose from. These include single-family homes, condos, and townhouses. Choosing between the different types of residential buildings will depend on your budget, lifestyle, and needs.

What is a residential building? A residential building is a building where more than half of its floor area is for dwelling purposes. A residential building offers sleeping accommodation with or without cooking or dining areas or with both. These are the five principal types of residential developments:

Single-Family Home

A single-family home is the standard private property residence. It could be a house that you buy or it could be a one that you rent from the owner.

The key difference is that if you purchase the house you own both the residence and the land. If you own one of these types of residences then you are free to do what you want with it so long as it is within the city, state, or county laws.

A single-family home

These residences are usually more private and have more space than other types of homes. They usually have a private front or back yard (can have both). As the homeowner, you can design and customize the house to your liking.

Single-family homes, however, do require maintenance and all the costs falls in the homeowner. With other home types like condos and townhomes, you share the costs of yard maintenance, plumbing, roofing, and building amenities with the other residents.

Multi-Family Home

Multi-family homes are also known as a duplex, triplex, or four-plex. The difference between the three as the name suggests is that a duplex houses 2 apartments while a triplex and fourplex contain 3 and 4 respectively. These are not as popular as other types of residential buildings.

Some have separate entrances for each unit that makes up the home. However, it is not uncommon for there to be one shared main entrance. The entire home belongs to one owner and individual units cannot be purchased.

Multi-family homes

Multi-family residences allow you to live in one part of the house while renting out the other units to tenants. However, you can also rent out all the units if you so desire. Or, if you are a large family, then you can share the home together with other family members.

The units in a multi-family home are usually smaller than single-family homes and offer less privacy. All maintenance tasks are the responsibility of the landlord/owner.


You can buy and own a condo. Most condominiums have more than one floors with a different owner living on each floor. However, a condo can also have multiple units per floor. There are also instances where the condo is detached (like a single-family home) or where they are connected to each other.

Detached Condos

As a condo owner, you share the cost of maintenance with other residents. For example, if the lawn needs mowing, each resident contributes toward the cost. As these are luxury residences they usually have premium amenities like gyms, pools, etc.

The entire condo is governed by a board of directors so you may not be able to modify the building as you like and there may be rules prohibiting pets. Privacy can also be an issue as the units may be close to each other and you need to be careful with noise so that you do not disturb neighbors.


Townhouses are similar to condominiums where each residence is adjacent to each other. The difference is that a townhouse can be purchased as a single property much like the single-family home. Expenses related to property tax and maintenance is the responsibility of the homeowner. Some townhouses have shared areas like pools, gyms, tennis courts, etc.


Townhomes are more private than condos. They can have a homeowners association or joint maintenance agreements where the owners agree to share the cost of maintaining the property.


Cooperatives (co-ops) a different type of homeownership. With cooperative housing, you own a part of a corporation that owns the building. Each resident makes up the cooperation that owns the entire building. Each owner is entitled to a unit of the building so long as they are part of the co-op.

Housing cooperatives on Central Park West in Manhattan, New York City, from left to right: The Majestic, The Dakota, The Langham, and The San Remo.

Co-op owners all share maintenance costs. They are also less expensive than condos. The financial responsibility of the entire building falls on each owner.