Should You Build a Single-Story or Two-Story Home?

Sometimes it seems what should be an easy decision really isn’t. When we, your custom home builders, meet with clients that are ready to build a custom home the first decision some have to make is whether to build a one story vs two-story home. Some of us know exactly what we want to build but what if you don’t know or can’t decide. Love the layouts of both? We’ve compiled some of the biggest items you should consider.

Answer These Questions to Help You Determine What to Build

Do You Want Living and Sleeping Areas Separate?

  • A single-story home: A single-story home can have bedrooms all on one side of the living areas or be split up on either side of the home. If you have small children you might want the bedrooms all on one side, allowing the living area to be somewhat separate. However, the areas are all on the same floor and knowing your family’s needs & habits could sway you one way or another. 
  • A two-story: It’s easy to keep the areas separate with bedrooms upstairs & living downstairs. Two-story floorplans tend to be the most popular because it is easy to separate the bedrooms from the rest of the living areas. The master suite can be near your children’s bedrooms. Having the children’s bedrooms upstairs helps you keep noise away from them. Do you really like a two-story but don’t want to deal with stairs all of the time, especially if you are empty nesters or have older kids? The master can be on the 1stfloor and all other bedrooms upstairs.

What Architectural Style Do You Envision?

  • Single-story or two-story styles: Are you dreaming of a grand foyer entrance, soaring ceilings, a loft, or a two-story great room? Are you contemplating an open floor plan, separation of rooms, stairs or no stairs, a low profile with architectural details, or window designs that are tall & expansive? The list is endless.

A two-story home will potentially give you more outdoor living & yard space since it goes up instead of out. This leaves you with more yard space, especially on a smaller lot. Both types of homes offer some, if not most, of these details, but how they’re designed will be different. Your builder will help you design what style works for you & your family.

When is a Lot More Than a Lot?

  • The size of the lot does matter: Is your lot large enough to support a sprawling single-story home? Does it fit a two-story home better? Know the zoning, lot restrictions, and size of the home you want to build before you choose a lot. Your builder will know what you can build on a particular lot & give you guidance.

What are your Family’s Needs?

The take away here is how easily you want your family to interact. Think beyond right now. What will your family’s needs be down the line? Could your parents or adult children come live with you?

  • Single-story: Do you have any mobility issues now or potentially in the near future? Do you have small children and worry about stairs? A single-story keeps everything & everyone on one level. This could be important to you if you have any mobility issues, in case of little ones needing anything, or evacuation in case of fire. On the flip side, a one-story home doesn’t allow for as much separation as having the bedrooms on a second floor would give you.
  • Two-story: This type of home allows the master bedroom to be on the first floor & kids’ rooms on the second floor. Or have all of the bedrooms upstairs & out of sight when guests are over. It just depends on what separation & privacy you want. 

What is Your Budget?

Both types of homes have their own cost considerations, and building costs could be comparable enough, which means it might not be your deciding factor.

  • Considerations: Two-story homes tend to be a bit less expensive in terms of cost per square foot since the foundation/excavation & roof costs can have a larger square footage, yet be on a smaller footprint since you are building up, not out. 
  • Energy: Costs on a two-story can be less if it has the same square footage as a single story home – think less roof area & less outdoor wall area impacted by weather. However, HVAC could be more expensive if 2 systems are needed to cool a two-story home.
  • Staircase: A big ticket item is a staircase (which also eats up available square footage in a 2 story home). Having a single story home means you’ll only need one to get to the basement. 


  • Single-story: It’s usually easier to clean out gutters, access the roof, clean windows, and hang decorative lights with a single-story home.
  • Two-story: Typically there is less roof to maintain, but it’s harder to access. Windows can be more difficult to get clean if they need to be cleaned from the outside. Gutters will need to have guards and decorative lights might be harder to hang.

As your premier boutique home builders, we build stunning single-story & two-story homes, with floor plans customized for each of our clients. We can help you make the best decision for your family. Contact us so we can build your dream home in Upper Arlington.