What Is A Patio Home? A Complete Guide

Searching for a place to live is never easy. This is especially true if you are considering a house more than an apartment. One of the many options available to you is a patio home. Similar to townhouses and condos, they offer a living space in suburban areas. So, what are patio homes?

Patio homes are defined most often by the fact that they are homes attached to other units. They are often part of a specific community. A single-family home, these units are usually only one story in height, though they can reach 1.5 stories at the most. The smaller lot is appealing to those who do not need a lot of space. Additionally, the landscaping and exterior work on the unit may be completed by a homeowner’s association. While not all patio homes are affiliated with one, most are. If you buy a patio home that is part of the association, you will have to pay a fee.

In this article, I will be defining what exactly a patio home is. I will also discuss the pros and cons of a patio home, and what you should look for when you buy one.


Defining a Patio Home

When looking at homes, it is important to understand what a patio home is. The name is potentially misleading, so here are a few things to know about them.

Patio homes are connected. Despite the name, patio homes have nothing to do with patios. The reality is that one patio home is often attached to other patio homes.

They are similar to townhomes. They can also be considered similar to condos. The main difference here is that patio homes are usually one story. Townhomes and condos are typically two stories.

It doesn’t always have a patio. Not all homes with patios or decks are “patio homes”. Similarly, not all patio homes actually have a patio. The name doesn’t have much to do with the actual description of the home.

They blend modern and traditional elements. Stylistically, patio homes offer a mix of elements. Newer buildings may aesthetically look old, but are actually recently built.

Homeowners own the lot the home is on. A big difference between patio homes and similar structures is who owns it. In this case, a homeowner owns the lot the house is built on and some external structures.

Patio homes are single-family. These homes are quite small, often just one story. Because of this, they are not likely to be multi-family homes. The lot size is also small, which means that the yard is small as well.

A small lot means less upkeep. With the smaller yard, there is less lawn to now, if any. Due to the small house itself, there is less to worry about in terms of repairs, painting, or cleaning.

Patio homes have communities. As mentioned before, patio homes are typically connected to one another. Because of this, it is likely that patio homes are part of a homeowner’s association. Keep an eye out for this, as it can affect costs and policies for the home.

Paying for patio homes. Like any other traditional house, patio homes can be financed in two ways. You can either pay for it in cash or by taking out a mortgage.

There are shared walls. Patio home units are often connected. Because of this, you will likely have a shared wall between yourself and a neighbor. Remember this before purchasing the home, because you will not have space between yourself and your neighbors.

Patio homes are relatively new. While there is no exact definition for a patio home, the term first appeared in the 1970s. Homes like these, including townhouses and condos, have existed before that. But it wasn’t until recently that the term became more commonly used in reality.

What Makes Up a Patio Home?

There are a few other things that make up a patio home. These things are found in most, if not all, patio homes no matter where they are.

Patio homes are found in the suburbs. You aren’t likely to see a patio home in the city or in more rural areas. They show up the most often in suburban areas that surround cities. Most often, they are single-story.

There are several units per lot. The units are often connected by shared walls between neighbors.

There is little to no external maintenance. This is partly because of the small lot sizes, which cause some people to only live there a part of the year. But this is also because of the homeowner’s association mentioned previously. The community can sometimes help to keep the home looking nice, though the homeowner themselves may have to pay dues.

Where Can You Find Patio Homes?

Knowing where to find patio homes is important, too. After all, geographic location is a large factor in choosing where you want to live.

They are found primarily in the suburbs. Like a similar townhouse, they can be found outside of cities, but not quite in the most rural areas. These homes are also community-based, so they are more likely in areas that have a lot of families.

They can be found all over the country. Patio homes are not limited to one part of the United States. Whether you want to live in the North, South, East, or West part of the country, patio homes are popular in many places. Although, these houses are not likely to be in places that are farming communities, as that is more rural of an area.

Who Typically Buys Patio Homes?

There are a lot of different types of home buyers. Therefore, a lot of them are looking for different things. Here’s what kinds of people tend to look at patio homes.

Patio homes are popular with all ages of home buyers. The units are designed to be single-family, which may appeal to couples with young children or a small family.

It’s a built-in community. The community aspect is appealing to older homeowners, as they can easily have people to interact with and help them. This could also be good for families with kids, as there would be lots of other kids around.

A small lot means a lower price. This is especially important for those who are just getting their first home or are nearing retirement. The small lot size means that the price is lower. This is far more affordable to a larger range of people.

The Appeal of a Patio Home

What makes patio homes so appealing? These homes are popular almost everywhere in the country. Here are a few reasons for that.

They are very popular in the Northeast. Though patio homes are popping up everywhere, the Northeast seems to have the biggest population of them. The Northeast is also home to a large amount of gated communities. While these are not typically gated, it is a similar idea.

Aesthetically, they can fit in anywhere. As mentioned before, patio homes blend traditional and modern styles. This allows the house to still look neat and clean while adding a bit of flair to it. The home may have some older looking detail work for personality, but all the appliances might be new looking.

Pros & Cons of Patio Homes

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a patio home.

Pros of A Patio Home

Patio homes have several benefits to them, which makes the homes a lot more appealing.

  • A homeowner’s association may be affiliated with the home. This can be a pro or con, depending on what you want. There is a great community aspect. You also don’t have to worry about landscaping and external work on the house. All of this is available to you after paying a fee.
  • Small lots are perfect for downsizing. These lots can be exactly what an older couple needs after their children move out of the house. And, with a lot of the physical work being done by the association, they don’t have to worry about the amount of labor involved.
  • The low price is perfect for many buyers. Young buyers and older buyers both can benefit from the lower price on patio homes. If you buy the right one, the quality of the house can still be what you want it to be, even at a low price.
  • There is easy access to a community. For some people, this is really important. Maybe you’re new to the area and you want to get to know the people better or make new friends. Perhaps you’d like to know the neighbors in case you need an emergency babysitter. Whatever the case, this is a really great aspect to a lot of buyers.
  • Shared areas are the responsibility of the community. If you share a wall or a fence with someone and there is a problem, there are resources to getting it sorted out. If communicating directly with your neighbor doesn’t work, you can take it up with the larger community and work it out that way.

Cons of A Patio Home

Unfortunately, there are some cons to patio homes. Some of these are even downsides to aspects mentioned in the previous section.

  • The homeowner’s association comes with a fee. Simply buying the property and living on it does not entitle you to the benefits that come with the association. Most likely, you will have to pay a fee. Depending on the circumstances, that fee might get pretty high.
  • Not all homeowner’s association communities offer insurance. Some do build it into their fee, it’s true. But others don’t. Before you purchase the home, be sure to establish exactly what the fee will cover and what you will have to get for yourself.
  • There may be restrictions due to the homeowner’s association. While the homeowner does own the lot and exterior, the community may have restrictions on how it is landscaped or painted. It is important to consider this when reviewing policies put on by the association before you buy the home.
  • There is often a lack of privacy. These homes share space on the lot, including walls and driveways. Your neighbors might be perfectly quiet, but that may not be the case. Do your research ahead of time and ask about noise levels. You should also check and see what their policies are so that you can report problems.
  • The lots are small. Yes, this can be a pro, too. But it is a con when you’re looking for something for a larger family or for more than one family. These lots may not be ideal for dogs, either, because there isn’t a large yard for the dog to easily run around in. And, kids don’t have a lot of play space either.

What to look for in a patio home?

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to patio homes. But here are some basics about what you should prioritize.

  • What is your price range? Obviously, the price of the home itself is important. But you should also add in the dues for the homeowner’s association when you make your calculations. These dues are not a one-time payment and occur monthly. That may not be something you can afford, even with the low price of the actual home.
  • How do you feel about neighbors? If you’re from the city, a patio home might not bother you in terms of having lots of neighbors. In fact, it might even feel quieter in comparison. But, whether you’re from an urban or rural area, you may not like having neighbors that close to you at all times. Sharing space and walls may feel uncomfortable. If this is the case, consider a different type of home.
  • Where do you want to live? Geographic location is incredibly important to choose a home. As mentioned previously, patio homes are in the suburbs. This means that there may or may not be easy access to the city. If you need to get to the city for work or school, you should check to see how long the commute would be and if it would be reasonable.
  • Do you need a lot of space? Shared or not, space is something that everyone needs on varying levels. It is entirely possible to have space in a patio home, you just have to look for it. Some do have yards, and your unit might only have one shared wall. If this is the case, you may still get what you need out of this house.

What is the Difference Between A Townhouse, Condo, And Patio Home?

Until the last few decades, and sometimes even now, patio homes were confused with townhouses and condos. After all, they are incredibly similar. But what exactly are the differences?

  • Condos are more like apartments. In fact, because a condo complex may include a variety of different units, a condo might actually be an apartment. If you have a condo, you are more likely to have other units on all sides of you, not just with one shared wall like a patio home.
  • Condo owners own the inside of their unit. This is the biggest difference between condos and patio homes. Homeowners with patio homes only own the exterior of the home. With condos, the homeowner actually owns the inside space and walls.
  • Parking isn’t always included in the same lot as the condo. That is, the parking space isn’t attached to the home, like a driveway. Patio homes have driveways, though they are shared. A condo does often have parking rights, but space may be on the street or in a parking lot.
  • Townhouses have more than one story. While a patio home is 1.5 stories at the most, townhouses are usually two stories. This makes them a little bigger than patio homes and means that they can potentially house more people.
  • Townhouse parking can be attached, but it isn’t always. No matter what, the parking is assigned somewhere on the property. It just may not be in a driveway like it is for patio homes.
  • All three housing options include shared walls. No matter which kind of unit you’re looking at, shared walls are going to be involved. Townhouses are similar to patio homes in that the shared walls are always going to be on the sides. Condos, however, can have neighbors above or below. Either way, your neighbors are still really close to you and the units are attached.

Wrap up

No matter what you’re looking for or who you are, patio homes are worth considering. They may have a lack of privacy and space, but they have many benefits as well, such as community and a lower price. Do you have experience with patio homes? Do you own one yourself? Comment below!

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