Which is more desirable – a single or a multi story home? This is an intriguing subject which I am frequently asked. The reply is, as is typical with many such debates, ” It depends”. There are pluses and minuses to each. Let’s inspect the pros and cons of these two choices and then weigh the outlay to build each type.
Plus-points of a Single Story:
- Easier to build. – Framing and other structural requirements are usually less.
- No stairs – Stairs can be beautiful to view but sometimes are a deal-breaker, especially if there are current or foreseen disability issues.
- A more sprawled design – one can generally place elements farther apart on a single story home. It’s sometimes helpful to have the master bedroom and the kids bedrooms separated adequately.
Cons of a Single-Story
- Takes up more room on the property.
- If it has a basement then that can be so huge as to be unmanagable.
- Generally more roofing area which can create more occasion to leak.
Pros of a Two-Story
- More compact – Can fit more onto a single, small lot.
- The look – Two or more story homes can be quite sensational. One can have two story atriums, majestic entries, etc. that really set the home design apart.
- Separation – There are types of separation that can in fact be done better on a two-story. Getting the bedrooms upstairs can get them separated nicely from more common spaces below. In homes where entertainment is to be done this can be a nice quality.
Cons of a Two-Story
- More complex to build.
- Can cause accessibility situations in certain cases.
- Present a larger area for wind forces – structures will have to be a bit complicated.
In my time as a designer and builder one and two story homes tend to be similar in price tag.:
- A two story home has one roof which covers more living area which makes it it more cost effective. Point for 2-story
- A two-story home has one slab/foundation system which works to support more structure – thereby a bit more cost effective. Point for 2-story.
- A single story has a simpler structural system – usually simple exterior walls and a roof – whereby the two story has the stairs and the upper floor system. Point for 1- story.
- With a two-story one can get away with a smaller lot. Point for 2-story.
- With a single story one can utilize, especially with cement block walls, a less expensive finish such as stucco over block. On a two-story we always have the issue of how to cover the second floor. Point for 1-story.
- On a single story homes, most through the roof venting, including chimneys, may be run to a lower height. Heating ducts and piping can be complex on a two-story. Point for 1-story.
Though costs tend to balance out, for any given living area, the the call as to which to build will be hinged upon many things – but mostly upon what you want. You may have fond memories in an old 2-story home you were a child in up north. As in all design, you create what you want.
This is the great thing about custom design and built homes. You are the final say! It’s up to you. Hire an expert designer and engineer and you can create and build most anything.