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What is a Patio Home?

Are you planning to buy a house that is affordable, and requires low-maintenance? The chances are you might have heard your real estate agent or friends mentioning about patio homes one time or the other during your hunt. If you are looking for a cost-effective housing solution, then the best property to invest in is a patio home.

If you are still wondering what a patio home is, then don’t worry, we have got you covered. Patio homes, also known as cluster homes, are quite the rage amongst people, thanks to the utility and economics of the house model. Unlike a porch house, a patio home is another option for privacy and is perfect for a single family.

However, a patio home necessarily does not have a patio as the name suggests. In some cases, a faux-patio made of concrete slabs or deck(s) for recreational activities like dinner or lunches.

If you are looking forward to knowing a bit about patio homes, you are in the right place. Here, we break down the jargon and functionality of a patio home and give you a comprehensive insight into living in such a lovely place. It may also help you make an informed choice if you want something that will not pinch your pocket much.

What is a Patio home anyway?

Patio homes are cluster homes that share a common wall with another patio house(s). The term ‘patio home’ is used to designate a particular style of real estate and not any exterior or feature. In the 1983 New York article by Anthony DePalma, the writer quotes patio homes in the following manner –

“Patio homes are fully detached single-family houses that are laced together in their clusters by small yards or patios,” he explains.

Apart from the crude term – cluster homes, that seem like a hive colony, they are also known as garden homes, courtyard homes or carriage homes. Compared to other types of houses, patio homes offer good privacy with a lesser chance of noise disturbances.

Why would anyone want a patio house and give up the view of a porch house or a spacious condo?

The answer to this question is – patio houses are economical and have low-maintenance.  Suited for a ‘unit family’ or single-family, patio homes are the latest inclusions in the real estate arena.

Contrary to the initial skepticism, people are considering these smaller yet efficient living spaces over expensive alternatives. Let’s look at how patio homes are proving to be useful. However, before that, here’s a brief history of patio homes followed by its characteristics.

History of Patio Homes

Patio homes became a trend in the early 60s. Thanks to the multi-family zoning concept, many of the homeowners wanted a living space with reduced prices. To fill this gap, the patio homes were built which gave rise to cluster homes forming a neighborhood.

Also, since patio homes share a common wall, the homes-per-acre is more for a cluster. This kept the size and design of the houses similar, with an affordable price. Initially, retirees and first-time buyers preferred such houses. Today, these homes enjoy prominent popularity among regular people for their versatility and cost-effectiveness.

Features of a patio home

Low maintenance

Unlike porch houses and townhouses, patio homes have shared amenities. The maintenance of such amenities requires a good amount of money.  It is estimated that a US house owner spends nearly 10 minutes daily on lawn-care with an additional investment on mowing equipment and other tools for maintenance of a single porch house.

Patio homes enjoy the flexibility of saving time and money on the shared amenities as the individual contribution is much less than that of other house owners. This, in turn, saves time and money in the long run.

Compared to traditional homeownership, there are additional taxes, insurance costs, home-association dues, and other expenses. Moreover, in today’s booming housing market, patio homes are a pretty good option for people looking for a small and functional space without spending a fortune.

Floor plan variety

Porch homes are undoubtedly elegant and spacious. You can watch the sun go down on a summer evening, light a bonfire on a chilly night or have dinner on a breezy spring without hindering the view. However, it is quite an expensive endeavor.

The floor plan of a patio house offers variety – from finished basements, lofts with additional recreational space, bath, bedrooms, etc. Comparatively, patio homes have more utility-per-square feet with more options at a lesser cost.

Stylized exterior designs

Since patio homes look identical, you can choose from a variety of exterior designs – from craftsman to costal designs. Unlike condos or townhouses, the patio houses can accommodate some of your taste in varied types of architecture such as brick walls.

Shared amenities

Patio home clusters often include parks, open spaces, playgrounds, gardens, pools and other amenities for community use. This not only reduces the overall cost, but also provides a good living standard to the community.

Overall, patio homes seem to be a good investment both economically as well as from the point of view of utility.

However, this article would be incomplete without knowing the pros and cons of such housing unit. So in order to give you further insights, here are the advantages and disadvantages of patio homes.


  • Low maintenance, and therefore suited for retired people. You do not need to worry about lawn work.
  • Patio homes do not have stairs or elevators, and therefore are suited for both senior citizens as well as families.
  • Patio homes are less expensive than a single-family house; the cost insurance, repairs, and upkeep are also taken care of.
  • Open floor plans allow more space making them less crowded compared to townhomes and condos.
  • Shared amenities include pool, gyms, community halls, dining areas, etc.


  • Patio homes are smaller than a regular single-family home and can be multi-storied, include a garden, yard, etc. This often feels a bit smaller for people accustomed to larger living spaces
  • Patio homes are less commonly seen than condos and townhouses. You won’t find them quickly as most builders do not offer such homes.
  • They fill quickly as the demand is high and senior living communities are always in the waiting list for them.
  • Costs can vary for the different neighborhoods for the same type of house based on gained services and amenities.


Ideal for people looking for an independent living space, low cost and shared amenities, patio homes offer quite a lot for a smaller area.

We do agree that condos and porch houses have their own charm but patio homes are private and lovely homes that do not eat away your savings. They are not a downsized version of a house but more of an efficient means of living with the flexibility to incorporate your own touch of style.

Therefore, we would recommend you to ask your estate agent or look for an agent who specializes in such deals to find the right patio home.

Still having any doubts or concerns about patio homes? If yes, then share them in the comments section below, and we’ll be happy to help.