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Pros and Cons of One-Story and Two-Story Homes

You have a lot of decisions to make when building a new home. First, and possibly most basically, you’ll need to start by deciding between a single-level home and one with multiple stories. How can you decide what’s right for you?

Here are the pros and cons of both options to help you find the perfect match.

Privacy and Noise

Both types of houses have pluses and minuses when it comes to privacy and noise. If you live in a busy neighborhood or are on a major road, a two-story layout provides more privacy for bedrooms and family spaces that are on the second floor. Two-story homes also increase interior privacy too. With everyone spending time on a single level, families in a tight floor plan might find that they are always in each other’s way.

While two-story homes do offer a way to separate members of the family as they go about their daily activities, keep in mind the possibility of additional noise if you have squeaky floorboards or kids playing upstairs above quieter rooms like a home office or dining area. Talk to your contractor about ways to minimize noise pollution between floors during design.


A single-story building has one obvious advantage over multiple levels: its lack of stairs. Older homeowners are increasingly likely to choose a one-story option and skip the trips up and down the stairs. Families with small children may feel the same due to safety issues with kids. This could mean that a single level design will be easier to sell down the road, too, although there are ways to counter the inconvenience of a split layout.

However, two-story homes offer other safety advantages. Two-story houses place half the home — and, importantly, most of the bedrooms — on the second floor where they are much harder to get to. This increases protection against theft and burglary as well as making windows and doors safer, but it may make evacuation a little trickier in case of fire or other emergencies.

Design Ease

Single-level houses are often easier to design, which may or may not affect you depending on whether you have specific floor plan needs.  That’s generally because one-level homes have a larger footprint and aren’t limited by things like stair placement and the layout of the bottom floor. On the other hand, a taller home may offer ways to boost the drama by using high ceilings and stunning windows.

Construction challenges can crop up in different ways with each layout. The initial design and construction of a single-story house may be higher due to larger foundations, roofing needs, and windows. But the ongoing monthly expenses in a dual-level space could be higher as you have to balance the heating and cooling of both floors as well as design proper ventilation.

Lot Size

If you have a limited lot size to work with, a two-story house could provide much more square footage than just one level. If you have active kids or entertain outdoors often, a sprawling ranch home could take away from your overall living space in the backyard or in front of your home.

Even on a large lot, a two-story house may look better than a comparably-sized single story version. By drawing the eye upward and adding more of a visual footprint, a taller layout could give the illusion of being larger against a sprawling property.

To help you decide on the right layout both for your family and for your particular lot, talk to the custom design and construction pros at David James Homes today. We’ll help you choose the perfect layout for your needs.

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