What is a Ranch Style House?

by Debra

in Ranch House History

Ranch style houses have been popular in neighborhoods around the United States starting in the 1930s. They can be seen in nearly every state and their floor plans can be modified to meet every need a homeowner may have. But what is a ranch style house?

photo credit: tifotter

There are certain characteristics and features that ranch style houses have:

  • They are fairly plain to look at because they don’t have a lot decorative details.
  • Everything needed in the home is on a single story.
  • Ranch homes provide easy access due to simple floor plans.
  • Most ranch homes are built with an attached garage.
  • They are long, narrow, and built close to the ground so there aren’t many stairs at the entry.
  • The design varies in that the homes may be a single rectangle, L-shaped, or possibly U-shaped.
  • Roof lines are simple and low-pitched gables and they often have deep-set eaves.
  • There are many natural materials used in building: brick is often used for the exterior and wood floors are common inside.

The ranch style house is a purely American architectural design that owes it’s beginning to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style and the Bungalow style homes of the early 20th century. You may also find this style house being called an American Ranch, Western Ranch, or California Rambler. Cliff May, an architect from California, is credited with designing and building the first Ranch Style house in 1932.

This style home, as well as variations to the basic design, remained popular until the 1970s but it fell out of fashion when people started to prefer more formal or traditional style homes. By the late 1990s, however, the interest in the ranch style house had increased.

New homeowners often find that ranch homes are more economical than other styles; therefore this is the style home many first time homeowners choose. This style house is also a good choice for older buyers because the floor plan is all on one level. Making repairs to the Ranch style house is also easier due to being able to readily access every area of the home.

The Ranch style house has been criticized ever since the first home was built. Despite those who say the house is “excessive” because of the space and materials it takes to build, it still remains as one of the most popular homes both for new construction and used home sales.

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