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Single Family Detached Home

Single Family Detached Home

Stand alone houses are free standing residential building structures, and may be referred to in different regions as detached residences, single-detached dwelling, or a detached house. In addition, they may be referred to as single-family home in comparison with a multi-family home.


This type of housing may be defined differently depending on the statistical agencies or legal jurisdiction of the area. However, the general definition commonly includes two factors.

First, being a single-family home (dwelling or house) refers to the building structure being maintained and utilized for the purpose of a single unit. Meanwhile, the unit will share a single wall, or in some cases multiple walls with other unit structures, but remains a single-family residence if the layout design has direct street access or a thoroughfare without sharing utilities, including how water equipment, heating facilities, or other essential services or facilities within the other units.

Under some jurisdictions, there are allowances for mother-in-law suits or basement suites, with no change in the description of being single-family. However, any short-term accommodations are excluded, including inns, motels, and hotels, including larger scale rental accommodations, including apartments, and room or board style housing. Furthermore, condominiums are also excluded from being classified as single-family units.

The majority of single-family homes are constructed on land lots that are bigger than the structure itself, providing a surrounding area, called the yard (North American English) or a garden (British English). Many times, there will be a garage available on the lot. Furthermore, when garage entry is attached to the front of the structure, close to the street than the rest of the structure, this is commonly referred to as a ‘snout house’ design.

Regional Terminology

Depending on the region, there are various terms used to describe these types of residential structures.

In the United States and Canada, these structures are called single-family detached homes. However, in Canada they may also be referred to as single-detached dwellings.

In both Canada and the United Kingdom, these types of structures are referred to as detached houses.

In New Zealand, these types of structures are referred to as separate houses.

History and Distribution

Within pre-industrial societies, the majority of people had lived in multi-family housing for the majority of their life. It would be common for children to live with parents from the time of birth until being married, and the married couple would traditionally move in with the parents of either the woman (matrilocal) or man (patrilocal), allowing grandparents to assist in raising the young, while the middle generations were able to care for their aging parents. It was uncommon to buy or built a home for their new family, if it could be afforded.

Now, single-family homes are very common within suburban and rural areas in Europe and the New World, including wealthier parts of the Third World. Most of them are higher income and low-density areas.

Inc., US Legal,. “Single Family Residence Law and Legal Definition – USLegal, Inc”