Exposed wooden or steel beams, flat roofs with large overhangs, and split levels to take advantage of the terrain, are also common accents associated with the contemporary style.
Plan your budget accordingly so that you don't get your hopes too high or settle for less than you deserve. That is, plan your budget based on what you can afford. If a half-million dollar home is in your dreams, make sure you can finance it - visit your accountant and bank manager beforehand so you know what budget you can realistically work with.
Nowadays architectural soundness has acquired a new meaning, with the advent of sustainable designing. A dwelling sheathed in solar panels has a very different aesthetic than the usual suburban house. Multi-unit housing which eliminates the thermal bridges created by extensive glazing and concrete decks do not share the aesthetic of glass paneled high rise towers. Passive solar designs often borrow elements from local architectural styles to address local climactic conditions.
Ranch style homes are usually long and low with a bare minimum of interior and exterior decoration. The idea is to create a casual and informal lifestyle, usually with access to the outdoors via large plate glass windows, sliding glass doors, and patios or decks. Ranch style home plans normally imply a single story construction with a low and long roof line, with a cross- or side- gabled or hip roof.