house types

Everything you need to know about popular house types in Australia

If you plan to build a house or buy an existing one, it will be best to learn about the different house types to know which ones will meet your family's needs.

Although we all refer to our homes as houses, there are different types of houses. In fact, the Building Code of Australia lists ten different classes of buildings. Although some states or local councils have different definitions for building classes, the most common house types are the same. Each of these types has distinguishing characteristics and advantages. If you plan to build a house or buy an existing one, it will be best to learn about the different house types to know which ones will meet your family’s needs. 

Freestanding houses

Freestanding or stand-alone houses are the most common types and ones you will often see in property listings. The owner of the house also owns the land it is built on. As its name implies, they don’t have any adjacent houses, although it is not unusual to see a granny flat, shed, or another small structure. 

The land that a freestanding house occupies can be small or large, and you’ll often see the lots getting bigger as you move away from the city or the suburbs. This type of house is the most expensive. A freestanding house also has expensive land rates, insurance, and utility bills. 

house types

Advantages of a freestanding house

Easy to renovate and remodel – Freestanding houses are the easiest to renovate among the different house types because they are not attached to other houses. You can renovate, remodel, or extend a freestanding house without affecting another homeowner’s property. This makes it ideal for growing families who might need more space in the future. 

The ability to easily alter a freestanding house makes it ideal for homeowners who want to build their ideal house because they can use any design they want as long as it complies with local council regulations. 

house types

More space – Freestanding houses have more space compared to other house types. While other house types have small courtyards or front lawns, freestanding houses often have expansive gardens and backyards. Aside from giving homeowners the freedom to build houses as large as their budgets permit, larger spaces are healthier for families. 

Families have more room to move around and exercise. They can grow a lush garden that makes the air cleaner. They can also grow vegetable patches for organic food. A spacious garden also allows family members to spend more time outdoors for recreation. 

Can be a great investment – Freestanding houses are excellent investments because their values increase over time. You can increase the value of your house with proper maintenance. If you plan to sell your house, you can also work with a building design expert to update the look of your house and fix some minor issues so you can sell your house for a better price. 


A duplex is a residential building where two homes share a common wall. Duplexes sometimes share the same roof. They often look like twin houses because they are mirror images as far as the layout is concerned. Duplexes can be together on one title or have individual titles depending on the property owner. 

house types

Advantages of a duplex

Ample space – Although freestanding houses still have the largest free spaces, duplexes often have ample space for small backyards. The small space may limit your options, but you can work with a talented building designer to make the most out of it. You can develop a pocket garden where you can have your breakfast or relax in the afternoons. You can also develop the space to have a small playground for your children or pets. If you love keeping yourself in top physical shape, you can build a small home gym in your backyard. 

Easy to renovate – If you share your duplex with another homeowner, you only need to consult one neighbour when planning renovations or remodelling. This saves you time and can help prevent friction that often arises when dealing with several property owners. If you plan to renovate your duplex, engaging the services of a building design expert is essential to ensure that the changes won’t affect the other unit. 

Excellent for starter houses – Duplexes are excellent starter homes because they are cheaper than freestanding houses. A duplex offers ample space for your family to move without the hefty price tag of freestanding houses. Duplexes are also smaller, so they often have minimal maintenance and utility costs compared to freestanding houses. 

house types

Great rental properties – Duplexes are excellent rental properties if you want to become a rental property owner because you can have two rental properties in one title. If you plan to sell them in the future, you can have them on separate titles for maximum profits. 

Another idea is to use one duplex unit as your family’s home while renting out the other unit. You can market the unit as a long-term rental or advertise it on Airbnb if you live in a touristy area or near a commercial district. Aside from having an extra source of income, you can easily monitor the rental unit because you live just beside it. 


A townhouse is a type of house that occupies a small lot and often have multiple floors. They can be freestanding but can also be attached. Townhouses can also be a complex of three or more units. Although the buyer owns the building, they share ownership of the land and common areas with other homeowners within the same complex. Most townhouses come with strata titles that require owners to pay annual fees to a corporation that maintains the common properties and takes care of insurance and building compliance matters. 

house types

Advantages of a townhouse

Cheaper alternative – Townhouses are more affordable than freestanding houses and ideal for small families or newlyweds. However, the actual price of a townhouse still depends on the location of the property and the state of the actual building, which means that a small townhouse in Sydney can be more expensive than a medium-sized house in Byron Bay.

Minimal maintenance – Among the different house types, townhouses are the easiest to maintain because designated maintenance personnel maintain the common spaces. This gives you more free time to relax, take care of your children, or tackle other household chores. The downside is you need to pay an annual fee for these privileges. 

Can be safer – The proximity between townhouses can help boost the security of the entire townhouse complex. You can cultivate a close relationship with your neighbours and help each other by watching over each other’s townhouse to heighten security. 


Better amenities – A townhouse complex managed by a corporation often offer different amenities that you’ll see in condominium towers like a gym, a playground, a squash court or a swimming pool. These amenities are exclusive to townhouse owners and their guests. You can use the amenities for free and get to know other townhouse owners. Aside from fostering a cooperative relationship, these facilities can help you stay fit and help entertain your children. 

Tips when buying a house in Australia to renovate

Buying a house and renovating it is a huge investment and requires careful consideration to ensure that you get the most out of your money. If you plan to buy a house for purpose of renovation, here are some crucial points you need to consider: 

Take stock of your finances – Identify how much you are willing to spend on your purchase. This can help you narrow down your choices. Don’t waste your time looking at houses priced beyond your budget because you might miss out on a great deal that falls within your budget. Be confident enough to negotiate with the seller to try and bring the price down. 

If you plan to get a home loan, work out how much you can afford as a deposit. Check how much your monthly amortization will be and know how much you need to pay each month. Don’t be afraid to compare home loan rates to get the best deal possible. 


Pick the right house – You can’t always get everything you need in a house, so sort your needs and prioritize them. Make a list of the “must-haves” or essentials and the “nice to haves” or things you can do without. Must-haves include access to transportation, medical facilities, groceries, and schools.  

Ask for professional help – Hire a building design expert or an engineer to assess the house you are buying or renovating. A professional inspection can help uncover possible issues your untrained eye might have missed, like structural defects covered by cosmetic renovations. Hire a pest inspector to check for termites, rodents, and other pests. 

If this is your first time buying a house, ask a solicitor or a legal expert to review the contract of sale before you sign it. 


Renovate – Although some houses are ready for their occupants, you might want to renovate or remodel if you have another idea of how you want the house to look. You might want another paint colour or different flooring material for your house. Or you might want to reconfigure the layout if you want more rooms or if you want to combine two small rooms to make a large one. 

Renovating or remodelling before moving in can help you avoid the inconvenience of shifting furniture and appliances around to make way for workers. You can enjoy your new home without interruptions by completing renovations before moving in. 

Sign up to Dreamspace to get your renovation project started. With its various features, Dreamspace is the perfect project renovation platform to help you manage your renovations from start to finish. You can find design inspirations, guides, 3D models, and material suppliers using Dreamspace. What’s more, Dreamspace can match you with the right renovation team to build your dream home.

single home

Final words

There are different house types to choose from if you’re in the market for a house, and it helps to know the different types and what each type can offer. You can get a freestanding house if you want more space for your family and don’t mind spending a little extra. Duplexes and townhouses are excellent choices for a smaller and more affordable home. Whatever your choice is, what is important is that your house suits your family’s needs. 

If you want to make the most out of your new home, Dreamspace can match you with an expert draftsman to help you develop a renovation plan. You can also get a free design quote from Dreamspace to help you get your renovation project started so your family can move into your new home the soonest possible time. 

house types

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