Ranch style architecture originated in the United States in the 1920's, and it became very popular after World War II as cities expanded into suburbs and inexpensive tract homes were needed by a growing populace. Ranch style houses are most popular where land is inexpensive and the weather is mild, since these homes particularly lend themselves to outdoor living. The low, earth hugging look with clean, modern lines of the ranch style is derived from Frank Lloyd Wright's prairie style architecture.
Nowadays cottages are often used as summer or weekend getaways - often by lakes or the seaside - by urban dwellers seeking to escape the noise and rat race. They are often built as rental properties in popular tourist areas. But usually when people think of a cottage they mean a rural dwelling in the traditional English country cottage house plans style with stone or stucco siding, asymmetrical lines, one-and-a-half stories high, and with hip roof and steep gables - the overall impression being a cozy, storybook appearance.
Some small homes have two floors and come with or without a basement. Some more common small homes have crawlspaces for extra storage. Traditionally they have a room off the kitchen which you can place a washer and dryer. These house are frequently Cottage or Bungalow style.
The building site also needs to be taken into consideration for school districts, noise levels, and neighbours. Different sites will also require different types of permits at different prices. Planning a new home can be challenging as it is a big investment, so the new home should meet all of your specifications. Depending on what stage of life you are at may also indicate the style of design you need to consider.