What Are Apartments in Houses Called? (6 Names Explained)

Have you heard of apartments in houses? Whether you know someone who lives in one or not, you may wonder if there’s a better name for this type of housing.

Keep reading for some common varieties of apartments you’ll find a house and why these units can be a good option.

Large basement with kitchen in new construction home

1. Duplex

Some houses are split equally into two units, making the house a duplex. Two groups or families can occupy the property, and each will have private access to their unit.

Depending on the design, you may find a duplex where one unit is on top of the other. However, at least where I live, it’s more common to split a house down the middle so that both units have an upstairs and downstairs.

In many cases, duplexes have two units of about the same size. Some may even have garages for both units as well as a yard and other amenities.

2. Triplex

A triplex is similar to a duplex in that it takes up about as much space as a single house. However, the building contains three separate apartments or units rather than two.

I haven’t seen as many triplexes as duplexes, but they may be more common in other areas. You might even be able to find a fourplex or quad, which has four units, but that’s even less popular.

In some cases, a landlord will rent out all of the units to tenants. But some landlords will live in one part of the duplex or triplex and rent out the other units.

For more on attached houses, please check out our article answering the question, What Are Built-together Houses Called?

3. In-Law Suite

Sometimes called a mother-in-law suite or granny suite, this type of apartment is common in suburban homes. Anyone can live in one, not just a mother or father-in-law.

Also, these units can be in different parts of the overall house. For example, you may finish a basement and convert it into a separate apartment.

You could also do the same with a garage that you never use. Another option is to build a separate building in the backyard, but that wouldn’t be in the house, so that doesn’t apply here.

4. Basement Apartment

A similar term that you could exchange for some in-law suites is a basement apartment. As the name suggests, this type of unit has to come from the basement of the house.

These apartments often have a separate entrance, so they can be good for tenants who aren’t related to the homeowners.  In some cases, there may even be two basement apartments in the same house.

One of my former coworkers lived in such a basement apartment. The two basement units shared an exterior door and entrance hallway before splitting into their private spaces.

5. Garden Apartment

Any apartment that exists on the ground level can go by the name “garden apartment.” However, it’s most common to use this term for ground-level apartments in houses.

Depending on the layout of the house, this could be another name for a basement apartment. But if the basement is fully underground, it might be a level above.

As the name suggests, this type of apartment has a garden view. So if you have a split-level house, you could convert the downstairs living area into a small apartment.

6. Loft

While many house apartments are near the bottom, you could also place a unit near the top. In that case, you’d have yourself a loft, which you can also find in some traditional apartment buildings.

Now, these apartments are less likely to have separate entrances than the overall house due to their location. However, they can be a good option for grandparents or in-laws as well as young adult children who want some independence.

Loft units can be converted from attics, similar to finishing a basement. They may look and feel similar to a studio apartment, and some can be quite small, depending on the size of the house.

Benefits of Apartments in Houses

There aren’t a ton of different terms to explain an apartment in a house. But you may be wondering why it’s worth adding an apartment to your house or looking for such a unit as a renter.

Consider the following benefits that apartments in houses have.

Keep Family Close

One of the most significant advantages of an apartment in a house is that family can live in the unit. You could have grandparents stay in the apartment to help care for your young children, for example.

On the flip side, maybe you have a child who’s about to finish college. If they need help getting on their feet but want some independence, they could live in a separate unit.

Multi-generational homes aren’t that common in the US, but they’re very popular in other countries. Living near family can be a great way to enjoy community and save money on transportation and childcare.

Enjoy Some Privacy

As much as you may love your family, you probably also want time away from them. If you all were to live in a standard house, you might walk all over each other.

However, an in-law suite or something similar can provide more separation. You can still come together in the main unit for family gatherings, but you can have alone time.

Younger adults can have more independence, while older adults can enjoy their own schedules. Plus, no one will have to worry about disturbing someone else with a different sleep schedule.

Save Money

Homeowners and tenants of apartments in houses can use the living situation to save money. Everyone can split the utilities based on the size of each unit.

If you own the home, you can charge some rent to your tenants to help cover the mortgage. And if you’re the tenant, you may find it’s cheaper to rent a basement apartment than a traditional unit.

With inflation seemingly out of control, anything you can do to cut costs is a good thing. Sometimes, adjusting your living situation is the way to do it.

Quieter Neighborhoods

In general, houses tend to be in quieter areas of town since they’re around other houses. Meanwhile, apartment buildings may be around other complexes as well as businesses, so they could have a lot more noise.

If you want to live somewhere quiet, an apartment in a house could be the perfect fit for you. You’ll get the benefits of living in a house but not all of the crazy expenses.

That can be particularly useful when you’re single. Or, if you want to buy a house and add an apartment, you can get the space you need for your family and rent out the rest to someone else.

Nearby Landlord

I currently live in a room similar to a loft apartment in my parents’ home. That makes it super easy to contact my “landlords” if I ever have an issue with something.

While it’s not always the case, a lot of homeowners that rent out an apartment in their home also live in the building. If you ever have a plumbing issue, for example, you can go to the front door and knock.

You don’t have to call and worry about whether the landlord will respond. And in emergencies, having the landlord right there can help you resolve issues much faster.

Better Parking

The parking situation can depend on where you live and the layout of the front yard. However, if you live in an apartment within a house, you may be able to park on the driveway if there’s room.

Even if there’s no space, you should be able to park on the street. At least for me, both options get my car a lot closer to my place than when I lived in a traditional apartment.

I had to cross a courtyard and a parking lot to get to my car from my unit. Now, I just walk down the driveway to my car, which is a lot easier when I have a big load of groceries, for example.

Final Thoughts

Apartments in houses are a great option for homeowners who want to live with family or get help with their mortgage. For renters, these units can also help save money, and they can be quieter than other apartments.

Be sure to consider some of the most popular types of apartments in houses to find a unit you love.

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