Some home descriptions are creations of the real estate sales and development industries, while others are legal designations to describe different types of structures. For example, a colonial home is a designation used by home builders and real estate agents to describe a particular decor and home layout.
A detached home is a legal designation that is used more by surveyors than real estate agents. As with any legal or zoning term, classifying a home as a detached home can sound more complicated than it really is. In order to be considered a detached home, a residential structure must meet two criteria.
Free Standing. A detached home does not share any living space or any of its physical make-up with another structure. For example, a condominium that shares a common wall with the condominium next door is not a detached home. However, a home that stands on its own without being attached to any other home is considered detached.
Single-Family Dwelling. The "single-family" designation is where the detached home can get tricky. For the most part, a detached home is only able to accommodate one family. In some zoning areas, there are exceptions made for smaller living spaces added for individual family members who want to maintain some level of independence while still living with the family.
A detached home is a legal designation primarily used by municipalities to differentiate between types of residential homes. But it is also common for a real estate agent to clarify a home's status by saying it is, or is not, a detached home.