Eaves are usually large and overhanging. Small ranch house plans tend to be simple rectangles; but there are larger designs which can be have L or U shapes surrounding a courtyard in the center visible from the living areas. Frequently there are sliding glass doors which open onto patios, or large picture windows in the living and dining areas. The design often includes an attached garage as well as patio area. Also, the exteriors are usually of brick, wood, or stucco with simple or rustic interior décor and exterior trim.
The prevailing trends in what is considered architecturally beautiful are slowly changing as more sustainable buildings are erected. The use of local building materials to reduce transportation costs and providing a greater degree of opacity to enhance energy conservation in cladding materials, are some of the criteria of design which are changing the appearance of buildings.
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.
Look for reputable designers. There are hundreds of different builders out there and every single one has a different history and reputation within the community. If you take the time to check out all of the available designers, you should have no trouble finding the best in the industry.