Should I Build a One Story House?

‘Tis the age-old question. Do I need a one story house or a two story house? This question gets hotly debated because it depends on wants, needs, desires, family size, resale price, and much more. On one hand, you can have a larger outdoor space and better views from upstairs in a two story house. On the other hand, you can have more living space per square foot and more design options with a one story house. But those are just a few of the reasons to choose either option.

Recently, one story homes have been a hot commodity. Even when land prices are high and space is scarce, the demand for one story houses is growing. However, because of those same reasons, more two story houses are getting built than single-story houses. So, what’s going on with these trends, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of building either one? As experienced contractors at Summit Edge Builders, we’ve heard the argument for both and are happy to pass on our knowledge.

Advantages of a two story house

It probably goes without saying that cost is a major factor when it comes to deciding whether to build a one story house or a two story house. For a two story, it costs less per square foot to build because the most expensive elements of home building are being built on a smaller footprint. That includes excavation, foundation, and roof installation.

Depending on the type of one story house you’re comparing it to, a two story house could be more fuel-efficient because less outdoor wall and roof, per square foot, are exposed to the weather. You might also save money on utilities because they have less distance to travel, such as the plumbing and wiring.

Furthermore, with less land space being used, you will have more room for outdoor living space. It might not be a huge difference, but any extra amount of space matters if you have a small lot.

Disadvantages of a two story house

Unfortunately, two story houses can give you fewer opportunities than a one story house. For starters, a lack of variety in ceiling heights. Two story houses typically have lower ceiling heights than single-level homes of equal square footage, which means shorter windows and fewer skylight options.

One of the major deterrents is the stairs. Stairs present a potential danger and accidents for anyone with mobility issues, the elderly, and younger children. This is something to consider for young couples starting families and elderly that may have to install expensive stairlifts.

Another factor to consider is the construction time. Because of the second and sometimes third attic floor, two story houses often take longer to build. Not to mention the added staircase and, oftentimes, deeper foundation.

Advantages of a one story house

The main benefit, in terms of space, is that you won’t be compromising square footage and money on staircases, which gives you more living space per square foot than a two story house. That also eliminates the potential danger of kids, the elderly, and people with mobility issues from falling down any stairs. Plus, evacuations due to fires is much safer and easier.

From money and space-saving point of view, you will need fewer bathrooms in a one story house because they will all be on the same floor. In addition, single story living allows you more variation in ceiling heights and skylights, giving you more design options to play around with.

Last but not least, most people who build their own homes envision themselves living there for the rest of their lives. Usually, people don’t want to go through the hassle of buying another home after designing a house specifically to fit their lifestyle and preferences. If you’re planning on staying in your home into retirement, one story houses are easier to get around and are more accessible for wheelchairs.

Disadvantages of a one story house

Per square foot, you can expect to pay more for foundation building and roofing materials for a one story house than a two story house. While building the foundation is a one time cost, maintaining a larger roof, or having to replace the roof could prove to be costly. That also goes for plumbing and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that need to extend the length of the house.

For some people, privacy may also be a concern in a single story house. Since every bedroom will be on the first level, some people might feel exposed to their neighbors and passersby. Of course, that may only be a concern for people living closely amongst neighbors and not in rural areas.

The argument for one story houses

At the moment, two story houses are still selling for more than one story houses on average. However, that trend is quickly shifting because of the aging baby boomer generation. This higher demand for single story living could mean higher valuations are in store for the future. In fact, we’re already seeing one story houses selling for more than two story houses in many markets throughout the country.

Finally, at Summit Edge Builders, we conclude that without the structural demands of upper stories, designers have more freedom to create the space of your dreams. Especially with the popularity of open floor plans, higher ceilings, and skylights for more natural light, the contemporary single story house can feel more airy and spacious, if you choose the right floor plan and contractor.

If you’re looking to build a new house or addition with a general contractor that has the experience, reputation, integrity, flexibility, and the ability to listen, contact Summit Edge Builders at 303-481-2005 or fill out a contact form for more information.