What Are Patio-Style Homes, Exactly? (Plus, All the Pros and Cons)

published Apr 4, 2024
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Row of Homes in the Midwest
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If you’re into architecture, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole when it comes to learning about the many different styles of homes out there. Between townhouses, condos, bungalows, and more, there are a variety of popular house styles out there. One common house style to be familiar with is the patio-style home, which is a series of attached single-family homes that make up larger housing communities that offer a seamless integration between indoor and outdoor living.

Quick Overview

What is a patio-style home?

Patio-style homes, sometimes referred to as garden or cluster homes, are attached, single family residences that offer a low-maintenance layout centered around indoor and outdoor living.

Patio-style homes, sometimes referred to as garden or cluster homes, use their attached residencies to offer a low-maintenance layout that can be a great option for children, elders, and adults alike. Here’s everything you should know about them in case you ever come across one in a listing or in the wild. 

What is a patio-style home?

Patio homes are typically one-story (or one-and-a-half stories) high, and often have outdoor patios or small yards. Patio homes, which became popular in the 1970s, can vary in appearance and size, although they’re often more compact than traditional homes and may have a concrete slab outside or deck area outside. They often share walls with other units, and may share indoor common areas, and outdoor space with neighbors.

“The main defining feature of a patio-style home is the central patio or courtyard, which serves as an extension of the indoor living space,” says Angelica Ferguson, an associate broker for Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty in upstate New York. She emphasizes that a patio-style home is an ideal option for first-time home buyers who may be considering other low-maintenance options like condos and townhouses. “It’s also quite common for patio-style homes to come equipped with outdoor living amenities such as built-in seating, fire pits, and outdoor kitchens.” 

What do buyers look out for in a patio-style home?

When it comes to buying a patio-style home, there are three potential factors to look out for: outdoor space, indoor-outdoor connectivity, and privacy without seclusion. As Ferguson explains, buyers are drawn to patio-style homes by their focal point: outdoor living space. “The focal point of a patio-style home is its outdoor living area, usually a patio or deck that is accessible from the main living areas of the house,” she says.

Similarly, having seamless indoor-outdoor connectivity is essential for home buyers who are trying to get a bang for their buck (think: sliding glass doors, French doors, folding glass walls, and any other accessible connection between the indoors and outdoors). 

Privacy without seclusion is the last (but certainly not least) important factor that home buyers look out for, which is why townhouses and condos share some similarities with patio-style homes. “While patio-style homes embrace outdoor living, they can also offer a sense of privacy, usually achieved through strategic landscaping, fencing, or a unique layout of the home to create a private outdoor retreat, such as a courtyard design,” says Ferguson. 

What are the pros of living in a patio-style home?

Besides their namesake, there are a few stand-out pros of living in a patio-style home. For example, many patio-style homes are built with low-maintenance facilities and landscaping. Adults and elderly folks can benefit from a home that doesn’t require much upkeep — especially if you plan on spending more time enjoying the outdoor space than worrying about the laundry list of household maintenance tasks. “The outdoor living areas in patio-style homes are also ideal for hosting gatherings, so if you like to entertain this could be a great option for you,” explains Ferguson.

In a traditional home — like tudor, cottage, or ranch-style — outdoor space is represented by large backyards. The protocol for larger yards often includes frequent lawn mowing, shrub shaping, and weeding, which gives homeowners little time to enjoy the space they’ve worked so hard to upkeep. If that doesn’t sound like something you’d be up for, you might consider the benefits of owning a patio-style home. 

What are the cons of living in a patio-style home?

Like most things in life, the pros of living in a patio-style home are coupled with a few cons. For example, because the emphasis on outdoor space is high, patio-style homes are more susceptible to the overt effects of the elements. “Depending on what your local climate is like, this may mean needing to take extra precautions to protect outdoor furniture and decor or prevent moisture intrusion,” says Ferguson. 

Exposure to outdoor elements can include everything from sunlight to pest infestations, which is something you’ll have to prepare for before trouble arrives. You can do this by signing up for a preventative treatment plan to avoid costly repairs and other home improvement projects. Depending on your wants and needs, a patio-style home may or may not be right for you.