T Nation

New Home: 2 Story or 1 Story?


My wife and I are about to begin the process of building our new home. We have narrowed down our options to 2 floor plans. One is a 2 story the other is one story. Since we have a baby and plan to have at least one more, safety has been taken into consideration.

Since I've never lived in a 2 story(my wife has), I'm not sure where I stand, although I certainly understand the concerns. So, is it something that should push us towards a one story or is not that huge of an issue? If it matters, the 2 story would have 4 bedrooms. 2 upstairs and 2 on 1st story.


What are the benefits to only having a 1 story home? Seems like a no brainer for 2 story, to me.


No stairs. No noise from kids stomping around upstairs. No carrying things up stairs. No carrying things downstairs. No kids falling downstairs. Its also a much bigger deal if you have older or disabled family members or big old pets. Right now my boxers sleep upstairs with us and I have to carry my 100 lbs. boxer up and downstairs every day because his hips are shot.


Well the plans are roughly the same sq footage so we wouldn't lose room there. I think the only benefit of the 1 story is no stairs and the kids are somewhat closer.


Ya those were our concerns.


Everything else being equal I'd get the rambler over a two story 10 out of 10 times.


I have a 3 (really 5 if you count the finished attic and basement) in NYC and a 1 in Phoenix. Comparable square footage.

The one is much cheaper to heat and cool and when things go wrong, it's an easy fix. All the plumbing and wiring going up and down is just complex and has to be smushed in between floors.

That said, I park in an attached basement lot and walk up 3-4 stories multiple times a day with a couple of briefcases. It's like HIT cardio when chasing the kids.


I'd agree, but I don't think everything else will always be equal. You're unlikely to get the same square footage for the same price. There's a reason that most bigger houses are two stories. You have less exterior and roof to maintain, your house takes up less of your yard, and it's usually cheaper to build. On the other hand, your roof and walls are more accessible so it goes both ways.

If your main concern is kids falling down the stairs, I don't think that concern is really justified. First, not to be callous, but kids are pretty durable and rarely get seriously hurt falling down the stairs. Second, kids are pretty smart and figure out how not to fall down the stairs. I have a 3 year old and we have stairs and he has literally never fallen down the stairs. When he first started crawling it took him a bit to figure out how to turn around and go down backwards, but he worked it out. Third, if you really are concerned, get a gate for the stairs. It's a pretty cheap fix.

If you have other concerns with the layout, then it becomes more personal. As was mentioned, stairs are more of a problem for old people than kids, mostly because old people are harder and more awkward to carry. If you're worried about sleeping on different levels from the kids, can you just put all the bedrooms upstairs? Basically, there are lots of rubs, but I would lean towards a two story house.


Good post. What suprised me was that the 1 story is actually more expensive to build than the 2 story plan; although both are roughly the same size.
We our building on our ranch so available room or yard isn't an issue luckily. I certainly agree with you about kids toughness. My wife is the one who is more concerned


Ya I'm sure basic plumbing/electrical repairs would be easier with a 1.


Multi story are cheaper due to less foundation costs.

I much prefer a ranch personally for all the reasons listed although it should be cheaper to heat a multi story.

My parents built a quad level which was my moms dream house when I was a kid. She ended up hating it because of the stairs.


I much prefer 2 stories. It's generally less expensive to build (half the foundation, half the roof), and frankly I don't like sleeping on a ground floor.

If you're worried about the kids and stairs, then use a gate. I'm not sure I'd let that concern drive my decision.


I was only going to chime in about the baby gates. I've got one at teh top and the bottom of my stairs to prevent little man from taking a dive. Haven't had any issues with them and I'm now contemplating removing them. My son is 1.5yrs old


Security concerns?


Resale is better on a single story. Old people don't like stairs.


Ah ok, yeah with the same sq footage I don't see the point in having 2 stories, either, lol. Although there may be a point in time when the goal is to get away from the children. :slight_smile:


I was wondering about that as well... I have almost always slept on the first floor and have never thought about it in terms of security.


You could always consider installing a pellet stove to help with the heat issue. We have one and it helps out tremendously with keeping the main level warm. Pellets are very inexpensive too... some stoves even burn corn.


Honestly, yeah. I've always lived in urban environments (busy sidewalk 10 feet from front door, gangways along the side of the house) so it freaks me out a bit that someone could walk into my yard and be at my bedroom window.


I've lived in 1,2 and 3 story homes and prefer the 1 story. Especially when moving heavy shit in and out. There was nothing worse than carrying/dragging my gun safe down a flight of stairs.