Upper Middle Class Patio Homes

Many suburban upper-middle class patio home developments feature fully landscaped common areas which are maintained by a subdivision who charge a monthly maintenance fee.


A patio home is an American term for a type of housing. The term tends to imply a suburban setting and a unit of several houses attached to each other, typically with shared walls between units, and with exterior maintenance and landscaping provided through an association fee. Not all of these elements are present in all buildings called patio homes, as the term is used somewhat generically by the real estate industry.

The building may actually be a condo when the building's owner does not own the land, or it may be sold in fee simple. Targeted buyers are primarily those who do not want to be bothered by external maintenance typically associated with home ownership, sometimes because they only live in the patio home for part of the year.[1]

There is not usually a legal definition of a patio home, and some houses called patio homes may alternatively be marketed as townhouses, garden homes, twin homes,[2] or carriage homes[3]. Most taxing jurisdictions do not have a separate classification for Patio Homes.

The term was first seen in print in the mid-1970s.[4] In a more generic sense it may refer to a home with a prominent patio, such as some traditional Mediterranean-style homes.[5]

There is often confusion about what a patio home or cluster home is, and how it differs from a townhome.

A townhome generally consists of three or more units with shared walls in a single building, and the townhome lot is limited to the ground on which the unit stands and perhaps a small rear patio area, with no additional private land. A true "Patio Home" is a free-standing or paired home of no more than two attached units, each located on a small lot that has at least some private land, generally in the back and/or side yards, but also possibly a small front yard. In some parts of the country, these types of homes may also be called "Villa" or "Zero Lot Line" homes. If they are two attached units, they may called "Paired Patio Homes". Some patio homes may be grouped, or clustered together, perhaps sharing a common central courtyard with several other patio homes, and in that case they may also be termed "Cluster Homes", but they otherwise share the same basic characteristics of a patio home.

Patio and cluster homes have become very popular with the "Boomer" generation of retirees because they offer most of the usual advantages of single family home ownership, including more privacy than condos or townhomes, while delegating most external building and lot maintenance chores to a home owner association (HOA), sometimes also called a Property Owner Association (POA). In most areas, HOA fees for patio and cluster homes are generally comparable to those of townhomes and condos, depending on the services and other amenities provided by the HOA.


  1. Gomez, Teena Hammond (June 2007). "The Call of the Condo" ([dead link]Scholar search). Louisville Magazine. 
  2. Hedding, Judy. "Definitions of Home Styles in Phoenix Can Be Confusing". Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  3. McKay, Gretchen. "Empty-Nesters Flock to Carriage, Patio Homes".,,hgtv_3664_2973297,00.html. Retrieved 2008-04-25. 
  4. "Patio". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2nd ed. 1989.
  5. Friedman, Avi (1995). "The Evolution of Design Characteristics during the Post-Second World War Housing Boom: The US Experience". Journal of Design History 8 (2): 140–141. doi:10.1093/jdh/8.2.131. 
  6. Colorado Patio Homes"Real Estate Professional's Definition: What is a Patio or Cluster Home?"
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