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Single Storey vs. Double Storey House: Everything You Need To Know


When building a new home, you need to make many new decisions. What size? What colour exterior? From what material? How will you heat the home? But, if you’re building a new property, one choice you’ll need to make before you can even find a contractor is whether you’re building a single-storey vs. double-storey house.

Before you make such a decision, there are many different factors that you need to consider, including cost to build, furnish and heat, occupancy limitations, functionality for your lifestyle and more.

Let’s break down the single-storey vs double-storey house and provide you with all the information you need to make the best decision for you and your family.

What is a Double-Storey House?

A double-storey house is simply a home with two levels, often connected by stairs. A double-storey house can have a basement that is not considered a ‘level’ of the house itself. These are typically found in suburban neighbourhoods and make fantastic options for family homes, as most two-storey home designs can typically contain two, three, or four bedrooms.

Typically, a double-storey house plan on a smaller lot (220-280 sqm) will range from 200 to 260 sqm, whereas larger land parcels (350-400+ sqm) will allow you to build a double-storey house that’s an average of 340-440 sqm.  

What is a Single-Storey House?

A single-storey house is a house that’s all on one level; many single-storey floor plans have an average size of 130 to 260 sqm. These homes are generally cheaper to purchase lots for than double-storey home designs and can be cheaper to buy outright if the home already exists on the property.

Many one-storey home plans are perfect options for singles or couples without children just entering the property market for the first time or as an investment property. Because there are no stairs in a simple one-storey home plan, they are perfect for the elderly couple who wants to retire and age in place. 

What Factors Can Help You Decide Which is Right For You?

Many factors could help you decide between a single-storey vs double-storey house. Here are a few for you to consider.

Average Build Cost

An important consideration when deciding to build a single-storey house plan or a double-storey house plan is the average build cost and whether your budget can manage it. Consider the mortgaging, land lot cost, heating costs, and furnishings.

Surprisingly, it is generally cheaper to build a two-storey house than a single-storey home. This is because it’s cheaper to build upwards than outward on a single lot, as you don’t have to consider things like fresh foundation, roofing, etc. While it may cost more to build initially, the land lot cost could be cheaper. Unless you plan on building a luxury single-storey house plan, you could pay more. 

How Much Space Do You Need?

This is more of a question of your life circumstances and whether they’ll allow you to build a single or double-storey home. If you’re a retiree or a retiree couple looking for an accessible home, then a single-storey home is the obvious choice. Or, are a young single person or couple looking to get on the property ladder, then a single-storey home may be the best option, too.

However, a double-storey home is an absolute necessity for families of two or more kids. Allowing each child to have a separate bedroom and privacy will become more important as they age. If you don’t need a lot of space, then a single-storey home design might best suit you, but if you have a family, a double-storey house quickly becomes necessary.

Pros of Building a Double-Storey House

Design Flexibility

One of the primary pros of building a double-storey house is the flexibility in design that you’re afforded. Unlike a single-storey home design, where you may be confined by lot size or zoning restrictions, double-storey homes generally offer more flexibility with room sizing and shape, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and a better opportunity to utilise different heating and cooling technologies more effectively and efficiently.

A Room With a View

Suppose you are opting to build your double-storey house near a place with a stunning vista of the sea, a gorgeous greenspace, or perhaps just a nice view of a nearby town or city from up above. In that case, having that second storey will maximise the potential of that hillside/seaside lot. Incorporate large windows in the upstairs master bedroom or common area for a consistently gorgeous view.

The Perfect Choice For Family Units

When it comes to starting a family or moving an existing one, there is no better space than a double-storey house. And with two-storey house plans available for two, three, or four-bedroom homes, each with privacy and space that simply doesn’t exist in the same way as a large open-concept single-storey home plan, there’s no better choice for a family unit than a double-storey house.

Cons of Building a Double-Storey House

Despite all the pros of building a two-storey house, there are a few downsides.

Additional Cost

It is more expensive to heat a two-storey home, despite modern technology and climate-controlled heating and cooling options like reverse-cycle heating. This additional cost should be considered when budgeting for a two-storey house build and when looking at two-storey house plans.

Twice the Home? Twice the Work!

While cleaning a single-storey home is undoubtedly challenging, cleaning a double-storey house will mean twice the hoovering, dusting, mopping, sweeping, bathroom and bedroom cleaning, window washing, carpet cleaning, etc. If you don’t have a family and like to do things other than cleaning, maybe a luxury single-storey house plan would be better for you.

Safety Concerns

We’ve already spoken about aging-in-place and why a single-floor house plan might be better for an elderly, retiring couple. But even in a double-storey family home, if you have grandparents or elderly friends visiting often, or even young, clumsy kids, the presence of a staircase presents a safety concern.

Pros of Building a Single-Storey House

Despite talking up two-storey homes as the be-all/end-all of house design, plenty of single-storey house plans could work for your specific situation and circumstances, so don’t discount them immediately. Here are a few pros of single-storey houses.

It’s Cheaper

The primary ‘pro’ of building a single-floor house plan is that it’s cheaper to furnish, heat, electrify, plumb and clean. Depending on whether you’re building a luxury single-storey house plan, it may be cheaper to build than a double-storey house, despite the latter typically being cheaper upfront.

It’s Safer

In terms of personal safety when navigating a space, a level and flat single-storey house is going to be much safer for you, your kids and visiting elderly relatives to navigate than a two-storey home with stairs. Additionally, egress from a fire from a single-storey home is far quicker and safer than exiting via a second-storey window.

Simpler Designs

One of the main benefits of single-storey homes is that the design potential often is simpler overall, despite there being fewer options. Because you’re not considering an upstairs design as part of your architectural drawings or plans, one-storey home plans usually have simpler design options for those less concerned with form and more with function.

Broader Market Appeal

Despite the reduced resale value of a single-storey home, they’ll often appeal to a broader market to begin with, because of their accessibility features. For example, an elderly couple with mobility issues, or anyone with mobility concerns, is going to be much more likely to buy or build a single-storey house. If reselling is something you’re looking at down the road, then bear in mind that a single-storey home will have a broader market appeal.

Open Concept Design Options

Unlike a split-level dwelling, single-storey floor plans often incorporate some sort of open-concept design, with an open-plan living room-kitchen area, and then two or three separate bedrooms and a single or double bathroom. Because of their wider footprint, lovers of open-concept design could be better suited to a simple one-storey house plan.

Better Use of Existing Space

 While a single-storey house plan may have less space overall, it does force you to think differently about how you use your existing space. This can lead to innovative and creative solutions to furnishing problems, like a Murphy bed, or a sofabed for guests, instead of an additional bedroom. Modular furniture is becoming increasingly common in smaller homes. A single-storey home design can help you better use your space.

Cons of Building a Single-Storey House

There are, of course, cons to building a single-storey home design. Here are a few of them.

Less Space

It goes without saying that unless you own a large lot and plan on building a very large home, you will have less space in your single-storey home than you would in a double-storey house. You may also have less exterior space, as single-storey homes tend to take up a large amount of land lot space.

Sacrificing a Yard for Indoor Space

If you have children, choosing between less (or almost no) backyard space and an additional bedroom can be difficult. Because single-storey homes are often built on smaller lots, you may find yourself in a position where you’re sacrificing that big backyard or swimming pool, because you simply don’t have the lot space to put one in, having built a necessary extra bedroom inside.

Higher Flood Risk

While flooding is a rare event unless your single-storey home is built up on stilts or on a hillside, you may be at a greater risk of flooding due to being at a lower elevation. This may mean an increase in insurance costs and a general threat to your well-being. If you live in a high flood-risk area, consider building a two-storey, or a raised single-storey home. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When considering single-storey vs double-storey homes, there are a few questions we’re asked all the time! Here are some of the most frequently asked questions on this topic.

Which is better: single-storey, or double-storey?

While this is an understandable question, it’s also a bit rhetorical one. The answer is: that it depends. It depends on your priorities, your budget, and how many people will be living with you in your single-storey or double-storey home.

If you’re a young couple without children, or perhaps just one child, looking to get on the property ladder, then a single-storey home may be perfect. Equally, if you’re a retired couple looking for an accessible dwelling to live out your twilight years in, a single-storey home is your best option.

But, if you have a family of two, three, or more children, you’ll quickly discover that a two-storey home is your best bet, simply for the additional space you’ll have.

If you want more space, and that’s worth the additional upfront and ongoing cost and maintenance, then a double-storey home would be better for you. However, if you’re looking for something simple that’s accessible, easier to maintain and quicker to build, then a single-storey home is likely to be more suitable. 

What are the disadvantages of building a single-storey home?

A few of the main disadvantages of building a single-storey home include a lack of space, a lack of privacy, and sacrificing a garden or backyard for your kids to play in, to have an extra bedroom. Another disadvantage is that heating a smaller space is cheaper in the winter, but during the summer months, that internal space becomes an oven thanks to heat transfer from the roof into the rooms below.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been looking at housing design options are considering whether a two-storey home would be better for your family than a simple single-storey home design, or are looking to retire and searching for that perfect little cottage-like home with accessibility built-in, then look no further than Provincial Homes. We have single and double-storey home designs to suit every budget and offer customisation options abound, so your new home is a pure reflection of you.