Deciding whether to build a single story house or double story house is not always a simple decision. In some cases, the choice is clear. Physical limitations of the lot size or personal preferences can make the decision obvious. Sometimes deciding between a single story or double story house is not such a simple decision.
Below are some of the main considerations to help you decide what type of house design you should choose.
Double Story Building Costs
Often the deciding factor in choosing to build a single or double story house is the cost. Generally two story houses do cost more to build. Some of this cost comes from the builder having to allow for scaffolding and the extra work moving materials upstairs. In addition to this the ground floor also needs to be designed to support the floor above which can mean using stronger materials or extra reinforcement. While a two story house does generally have a smaller footprint with less footings, the extra weight added can results in larger footing sizes. Which often offsets the savings from a smaller footprint.
Using lightweight construction such as steel or timber framing can reduce the cost of a double story house as the footings and ground floor construction doesn’t need to support much extra weight.
Two story houses can also be more energy efficient particularly in cold climates due to their compact shape. This can result in less perimeter area for heat to escape. A two story designs depending on the orientation, can also capture more direct sunlight in winter further boosting it is energy efficiency. This added energy efficiency can result in lower levels of insulation and cheaper window glazing which can help bring the cost of a two story house down.
Reasons to Build a Double Story House
With all these extra costs it might seem like your generally going to get more for your money building a single story house. While this is true in many cases here are a few situations where a double story house design might the better choice.
- Small blocks of land – In area’s where the lands been subdivided into small blocks going double story can be the only option to get the living space you want.
- Steeply sloped sites – The smaller footprint area of a double story house can reduce earthworks and retaining costs making a double story house design a cost efficient option.
- Views – Building a double story house can mean that you get a view you otherwise would be too low to see. This can make it worth the extra cost of building a double story house, particularly in areas where it’s hard to get a good view like inner city suburbs.
- Council or subdivision restrictions – Some councils or subdivisions can specify areas for double story houses only or create requirements that make it difficult to build single story houses. While some people might disagree with having to conform to these requirements they are generally in place to create a cohesive style that improves the suburbs appearance.
- Style – Even if none of the above apply to your situation sometimes deciding to build a double story home can be purely based on the style or appearance of the home.
One alternative to building a double story house is a Loft House Design which is a single story house with a floor or story in the roof space. This is a cheaper option to building a traditional double story house. Part of the reason for the cost saving is that loft designs use roof space that would otherwise be wasted. While the ceiling frame may need to be strengthened to allow for a floor this cost is minimal in comparison to a traditional double story design. Another cost saving is that a loft does not create extra external walls and instead used the roof frame as a pitched or raked wall.
Another option is a design that is mainly single story with a small double story section. This can provide some of the benefits of a double story house without all of the extra cost. A common layout is to have the master suite and ensuite upstairs with the rest of the house downstairs. This type of design separates the master suite from the other bedrooms which can suit some families particularly ones with older children.
Exercise and Convenience
Some people enjoy getting their exercise through chores or outdoor activities. A two-story home can give you more stairs to climb and more lawn to mow. It takes physical stamina to maintain this type of home. There is also more room in the yard for children and pets to play. If you are an active individual who enjoys spending time at home, you may find this very appealing.
If you hate mowing grass, have trouble tending a lawn, or just simply have little time for it, you may want to consider filling up your land with a single story house to reduce yard maintenance. A single-story home also offers more convenience to use a ladder to do repairs or clean the gutters.
In terms of safety, single story homes are safer for the elderly, disabled, and small children. A single story home is more easily made wheelchair accessible. There are no stairs to fall down. Windows are quickly accessible in case of fire. If you plan to live in your home indefinitely you may want to consider a single story to ease into with aging or changing needs.
Dividing The Space
Some people want the option of dividing up the living space for privacy, at-home office work, or second form of income. Parents may want a master suite on the bottom level of a two-story home and let their teenagers have the upstairs. Other homeowners may want to create a small apartment for rent or create an at-home office space. A two-story home offers ways to divide up living areas without changing the design layout.
Once you’ve decided between a single story or double story house you can start planning your layout. Check out our Floor Plan Design Guide for some expert tips and advice to help you create a practical and cost efficient floor plan.