One of the crucial design decisions many new homebuyers will face is whether to build a single or double-storey house. It may seem like a simple decision now, but those thinking into the future need to plan for their family’s needs in years to come.
One-story versus two-story home: Which is better? When house hunting, this question is worth considering—and the answer isn’t as simple as you might think. The number of floors in a home affects not just the way it looks, but also how easy it is to navigate and maintain, how much you’ll pay for heating and cooling, and much more.
Just so you know what you’re in for based on the number of stories you buy (or build), consider this list of the pros and cons of one-story versus two-story homes.
Millennial or boomer, kids or no kids, big baskets of laundry vs just a small pile – these are just some of the considerations when it comes to one vs. two-story homes. This is one of the most historic building characteristics that impact home buyers, homeowners as well as appraisers and even mortgage lenders. While the decision between living in one-story or two-story home is largely a matter of personal preference, these personal preferences, along with objective factors, can significantly affect the value of both single and multi-level homes. So whether you are performing an appraisal, making a mortgage lending decision or are looking for a new home here are some factors to consider between one and two-story homes. Looking for home builders? Look no further! MJS Construction Group has you covered.
Building Up Vs Building Out
Choosing to build a two-story house plan has many valuable benefits when it comes to cost and functionality. First, consider the cost. By stacking living space, you can add considerable square footage to your home without adding additional costs for roofing and foundation materials. The first level will not require roofing materials, and the second level will not require foundation materials. You can nearly double your living space while cutting costs on materials. (See Saving on Your Building Budget.)
The two-story house plan option also can save you money when choosing a lot. (See Selecting a Home Site.) In general, a two-story home requires less building space, often fitting on a narrow lot, as compared to a rambling ranch house of the same square footage that will require a much wider lot. With a single story, the more living space you need, the larger the lot you will need, leading to a more expensive price tag for your property. Choosing to build a two-story house will help with budget savings when considering the piece of property you will need.
Now, think about the functionality benefits of a two-story house. Suppose you prefer all bedrooms to be on the second level. In that case, it provides exceptional privacy for the sleeping quarters as they are separated from the living areas where many of the daily activities occur. Maybe your prefer a master bedroom on the first floor with secondary bedrooms on the upper level. This secludes the master bedroom. Also, an upper level can be beneficial, providing space for a game room, hobby room, loft, child’s playroom, second-floor laundry area or unfinished storage. Consider your home’s appearance. Maybe you like the elegance of a two-story foyer or great room. Building a two-story house will create the option for volume ceilings or even a second-floor balcony overlooking the great room.
If you choose to build a two-story house, think about who will be using the stairs daily. Are you and others capable and energetic enough to climb the stairs several times a day? Do you have small children who will be using the stairs? Remember to think about child safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. (See Home Safety Indoors and Out.) Do you have an elderly or physically disabled person living with you, or will you in the future? If none of these topics is a concern for you, think about the health benefits you will receive from taking the stairs frequently!
Now that you have a better understanding of “building up,” take a little time to consider “building out.” There are many benefits to building a single story or ranch house when considering efficiency and functionality. While it may be more expensive to build a ranch home instead of a two-story of similar square footage, comfort and peace of mind may be well worth spending the extra money. Think about your daily activities. Most homeowners spend plenty of time cleaning, doing laundry and checking on their children. It may be more efficient in your eyes to build a single-story home. If you are working in your home office, you can easily call to the kids in the next room to check on them as you continue to type at the computer, instead of putting your work aside for a few minutes and taking a trip upstairs to see what the kids are up to. In a similar manner, do you want to haul the vacuum up the stairs to vacuum the bedrooms? Do you want to be totally out of the range of the kitchen, putting folded laundry away, while dinner is cooking? In some cases, living in a ranch home will make multi-tasking and daily chores quite simple and offer efficiency.
If you or someone living with you has physical limitations, a one-story house may be the best choice for you. Eliminating steps, whenever possible, allows these people to live more independently. It is a simple convenience with far-reaching benefits for them. Check out our range of Melbourne home builders for your dream house.
Single story homes allow for a greater variety of ceiling heights and designs. Since there is not an upper level with a floor system that needs to be accommodated, it is easier to build a design with more than just flat ceilings. Vaulted, tray, barrel, cathedral and Pullman ceilings add character, drama and elegance to any room. Skylights in the living areas are also more easily accommodated in a ranch home. While additional costs are involved in finishing these types of features, the appearance they provide may be well worth it to you. Volume ceilings create a more open and spacious feel, making rooms appear larger than they are.
There are several advantages to building either a two-story house or a ranch house. Only you will be able to determine which one will be right for you and your family.
Advantages of Two Story Homes
- Cost less per square foot to build. That’s because the most expensive elements of home-building — excavation/foundation and rafters/roof installation — are being built on a smaller footprint. Plus, you’ll have less roof area to maintain.
- More fuel-efficient. You’ll save fuel because, per square foot, less outdoor wall and roof area are exposed to the weather.
- Fewer distance utilities travel. You’ll save money (and potential headaches) because plumbing and wiring have less distance to travel.
- Better views. When you are tree-height, your views are better.
- Larger outdoor space. Since you are taking up less land space for the house, you’ll have more of it for outdoor living areas.
- More versatile design. There are more attachment points in a two-story house for porches, connectors and bump-outs for either now or in the future.
- Privacy. The upstairs bedrooms are more private, especially if you build in a neighbourhood. If you have children, you’ll appreciate the second-floor bedrooms feature when your kids grow into teenagers.
Disadvantages of Two Story Homes
- The stairway’s footprint. A stairway can eat up 100 square feet of living space and add to the cost.
- Lack of variety in ceiling height. Ceiling (and attic) heights are typically lower than single-floor homes of equal square footage and can lack varied heights room-to-room. This could limit opportunities for skylights.
- Stair accidents. Stairs present a potential danger for young children, the elderly, or anyone with mobility issues. And if you ever need to install a stairlift, expect to shell out thousands of dollars.
- Construction considerations. A two-story house takes longer to build because of the second (and sometimes third attic) floor, the added staircase and sometimes a deeper foundation.
Advantages of Single Story Home
- More living space per square foot. You won’t be compromising square footage (and money) on staircases.
- Safer than two-story homes. Take away the staircase, and you eliminate the risk of falls for small children, the mobility-challenged and the elderly. Plus, evacuation is easier (and safer) than a two-story home in the event of a fire.
- Easier to “age in place.” If you plan to stay in your home until retirement, there may be no need to move. One-story houses are easier to get around and are easily wheelchair accessible.
- Quieter living. You won’t hear footsteps or other noise coming from upstairs.
- Space-saving design. From a practical point of view, you’ll need fewer bathrooms in a one-story home since they are all on the same floor, which can save you money. Also, the mudroom and laundry room can more easily be combined, saving space.
- More design options. One-floor living allows more variation in ceiling heights and skylights.
Disadvantages of Single Story Home
- Expect to pay more. Per square foot, a one-story house is more costly to build than a two-story home. There is a larger footprint, meaning more foundation building and more roofing materials. And because the plumbing and heating/AC systems need to extend the length of the house, you’ll need bigger (and costlier) systems.
- Less privacy. One-floor living means that you are eye-level with the rest of the world passing by. Of course, if you live in the woods that may not be true, but one-story homes in neighbourhoods may feel exposed and less private.
- Resale value may be lower. Two-story homes, on average, command higher prices, because the demand among families is higher. But that may change as baby boomers face retirement (and decreased mobility) and those nearing retirement wants to “age in place.” This higher demand for single-story homes could mean valuation could surpass those of their taller cousins.
Additionally, stairs can be dangerous for small children. They may eventually become a burden for older residents. At the same time, single-storey homes are better positioned to take advantage of natural light, which means you’re likely to see your home at its best more often. They also encourage families to spend more time together, rather than in separate upstairs and downstairs zones.
However, single-storey homes don’t have nearly as much space as double-storeys have to offer, which is most likely to impact growing families.
Building a single-storey may also mean sacrificing some of your gardens. Before you go down this path, check local council regulations. These may stipulate how much space must be left free on the block. MJS Construction Group has the best range of home builders Melbourne services to help you create your dream house.
No Stairs…Once The American Dream
During the post-war boom, one-story ranch-style homes represented the attainability of the American dream. The population of one-story homes continued into the 1970s, and in 1973 single-story homes made up 67 per cent of new home construction, according to figures generated by the U.S. Census Bureau and quoted by the National Association of Home Builders.
The popularity of single-story homes declined in the early 21st century, sinking to 43 per cent in 2006. However, there is some indication that one-story homes are again finding favour — the percentage of single-story new build residential construction rose to 46 per cent, in 2011.
There are several reasons for the enduring popularity of one-story homes. Maintenance is easier — painting, window cleaning and other exterior chores can often be accomplished without a ladder. Families with small children also frequently favour single-story homes. Increasingly, Boomers are opting to age in place rather than move to assisted living facilities, a goal that is easier to accomplish in a single-story home. And in the unfortunate instance of an emergency, every large window in a single-story home represents a potential escape route.
No Stairs But More Land
However, single-story homes also have significant disadvantages. Single story homes require more land than multi-level homes with equal square footage, which translates to a higher construction cost per foot. Outdoor living space is often at a premium, and additions to the home are often very costly. Single story homes are also more vulnerable to unlawful entry by burglars or people intent on doing harm to a home’ residents than multi-story homes. It is also not advisable to purchase a one-story home in a neighbourhood dominated by multi-storey construction, as such homes may fare poorly in resale value in comparison to their neighbours.
Upward Climb: Advantages of Two-Story Homes
Two-story homes gained appeal after the 1970s. There are several reasons. One of the most significant is that they allow for larger square footage than a single-story home on the same lot. This particular characteristic of multi-story homes gained special prominence during the 1980s and 1990s when so-called McMansions and “teardowns” sprang up in urban and suburban locations throughout the country. These homes often crowded their lots but allowed homeowners to obtain homes with the square footage they wanted in desirable neighbourhoods with comparatively small lots.
Aside from McMansions, multi-story homes often include more outdoor space than one-story homes and frequently provide more design options, as opposed to one-story homes that can have a cookie-cutter appearance. Multi-story homes often provide better views of desirable neighbourhood aspects, such as beautiful mountain or waterfront scenery. Two-story homes also provide greater security and privacy. Because bedrooms are often on upper floors, they are more difficult to access by burglars and others with malevolent intent.
Disadvantages of Two Story Homes
Cold air tends to sink, while warm air rises. As a result, many multi-story homes are stifling upstairs and chilly downstairs. Besides, many two-story homes were not built with energy efficiency in mind. The result is that occupants are left sweltering upstairs, especially during the hot summer months and shivering in downstairs rooms all winter long. This makes maintaining indoor comfort in a multi-level home more difficult and significantly more expensive than in single-story homes. Heating and cooling this type of home can have double the costs of a one-story house with the same square footage.
Multi-story homes are also frequently noisier than single-story homes. The experience is often similar to living in a multi-story apartment building and listening to upstairs neighbours walk around their apartments. Attempting to watch TV downstairs while someone is walking around on squeaky floors in an upstairs bedroom or running a bath or shower in an upstairs bathroom can be very distracting.
The stairs in multi-story homes also impose drawbacks and safety hazards. Carrying laundry up and downstairs in a multi-story home can be both tiring and taxing on the back and leg muscles. There is also the danger of sustaining serious injuries from falls on stairs in multi-story homes, especially for small children or the elderly.
Get The Facts On All The Building Characteristics That Matter
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