Home Inspector | Each type has its own parameters, such as semi-detached housing has two units that share a common wall or that mobile homes are factory-made. Although the term multi-family dwelling brings to mind a large tenement, it can be as simple as an old Victorian house divided into three apartments.
Builders can choose from numerous styles when designing a single-family house. There are over one hundred styles for the detached single-unit houses alone. A building may be one of the modern forms, styled after a classical design or be a hybrid of different styles combined. The house may be small like a cottage, medium-sized similar to a bungalow or large like a mansion. Sometimes the style affects the size.
Semi-detached houses are two-unit buildings that share a common wall, such as a side-by-side duplex or a home with a second-floor apartment. In the early 1800s, landowners built side-by-side homes to house their farm workers. The style is economical in labor, building material and land costs.
Multifamily dwellings, or multi-dwelling units, generally have their own set of directives. Often, local regulations dictate what a building needs, such as separate emergency egresses, private bathroom facilities or other requirements. A multifamily building may be a remodeled house, a new-construction apartment building, a group of condominiums, an industrial building repurposed into loft units or other structure. The term may refer to an apartment over a garage or beside a garage, if the main unit and the apartment do not share a common wall. A home inspector may need to inspect all units or just one unit, such as a single condominium unit.
Mobile homes, such as trailer homes, usually have crawl spaces instead of basements. Usually, this is one of the least expensive and smallest types of homes. Mobile units include manufactured homes, or modular homes, that builders connect on the lot. A home inspector needs to watch for problems including shifting or settling between the modules, mold, pest infestation, rotting wood supports and more.
No matter what type of house a homeowner has, he or she will need a full, comprehensive home inspection when applying for a mortgage. Generally, homeowners should get an inspection before doing extensive remodeling or building an addition. A good inspector may save a homeowner from expensive surprises, such as water damage.