When you see an advertisement for "ranch homes for sale," you may imagine a sprawling Texas ranch with a big house plopped in the middle of it, right? Actually, ranch homes are a little more than that. There are certain defining characteristics of ranch homes, and there are reasons why these particular houses are called "ranch" homes too, which typically has nothing to do with the property on which they sit.
Single Level Houses
Ranch homes are almost universally a single level home. There is no second story, and all of the bedrooms are located on the first floor. A long hallway provides access to the bedrooms and frequently starts and stops at the living room or dining room area. The bathroom is almost always situated in the midst of the bedrooms so that everyone in the house shares the bathroom and can easily get to it from their bedrooms.
Open or Semi-Closed Concept
The common areas of a ranch home, which include the living room, family room (if applicable), dining room and kitchen are usually open concept. This means that you can see and/or walk into these rooms from the next room over and even talk to people while sitting in the dining room or on the living room couch. They may also be semi-closed concept, which means there are half walls present, but for the most part you can still see and hear other people in the next room(s) over.
It is fairly common for ranch homes to have an attached garage. Because many of these homes are long, low flat structures, the garage is just an extension of the end of the house and the end of the living quarters. Some ranch homes may have no garage at all, but it is very unusual to have a ranch home with a detached garage, since a detached garage is typically added after the home has already been constructed.
Why They Are Called "Ranch" Homes
Ranch homes have been given the style name they have because of their appearance. They look like updated versions of the type of single level house ranchers built in the mid- to late 1800's. They were, and are, quick and easy to build, with either a flat roof or a low, sloping roof. The floor plans are also simple, with bedrooms and bathrooms on one end of the home and common areas on the other. In a real ranch house, the hands or family members would exit their bedrooms and head to the kitchen for the morning meal, then exit the back door to tend to the cattle before returning for lunch in the kitchen and then relaxing in the living room for a bit. This same floor plan is used on modern "ranch" homes.