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May 14, 2024

Which Suits Your Lifestyle: A Comparison of 1 Story & 2 Story Homes

When it comes to finding your dream home, one of the most significant decisions you’ll have to make is whether to choose a one-story or two-story plan. Both options have their pros and cons, with features such as energy efficiency, safety/aging in place, living space, and flexible room for kids/family factoring in. 

Your decision will come down to your family and your needs. Evaluating these factors is essential to making the right decision. Read on to figure out which home is best for you.


There are a range of pros for a one-story house. Some include:

  • More Living Space. One of the biggest advantages is more usable living space. You don’t lose space to staircases and you can truly maximize your square footage by minimizing hallways. One-story homes also tend to feel more expansive, especially if you have an open floor plan.
  • Safety & Aging in Place. Staircases can be dangerous and difficult for both seniors and small children. Climbing stairs can be hard to maneuver for those with health issues. A one-story home will be easier to navigate in later years. Stairs can also be dangerous for little kids, too. If the primary bedroom is on the first floor and the children’s rooms are on the second floor, consider the ramifications of being a floor away from the kids at night. If you have a baby, carrying the baby up and down the stairs several times a day is exhausting. And single-level homes are easier to evacuate in the event of a fire.
  • Potential for Expansion. One-story homes have great customization potential, as they can be easily expanded or reconfigured without affecting the structural integrity of the home. The roofline can be extended as much as necessary. 
  • Easy to Maintain, Heat & Cool. In a one-story home, all the chores happen on the same floor. No lugging a vacuum, laundry, or anything else up and down the stairs. One-story homes often have simpler roof structures, reducing exterior maintenance requirements and costs. One-story homes are also easier to heat and cool since there is only one level. 

There are also some cons to a one-story house. These include:

  • A Larger Footprint. A one-story home takes up more space on the homesite, aka its footprint. It consumes more land, leaving less room for outdoor living spaces and landscaping. A bigger footprint means you may need a bigger lot, which will cost more. If you don’t choose a larger lot, you’ll likely have less yard space. 
  • Less Privacy. The windows of a one-story home are at street level, meaning that passersby can see into your home. Additionally, all the living areas are on the same floor, which may be a challenge for larger families or those who prefer more separation between living and sleeping areas.
  • Limited Design Options. One-story homes often have fewer design options due to their single-level construction. For example, there is limited room for solutions such as lofts or extra bathrooms. Since public and private spaces are all on the same level, entertaining guests after bedtime may be inconvenient if you have young children. 

Two-story homes are popular. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Lower Cost. Two-story homes are typically cheaper to build. They have less foundation to pour and less pipe to run, which means you’ll most likely save on materials. While a two-story home is less expensive to build, it’s more expensive to maintain and expand. (Don’t let cost be the primary determining factor, though.) 
  • Outdoor Space & Views. Two-story homes have larger outdoor spaces. They have a smaller footprint, which means a bigger yard. Two-story homes work well on narrower lots. With a second story, there are better views. You can appreciate nature, whereas with a one-story home, all you see is your neighbors’ homes.
  • More Privacy. If you prefer a house with separate living and entertainment spaces, a two-story may be right for you. You can have all of the bedrooms upstairs. Or if you have older kids or teens, you may prefer to have the main bedroom on the bottom floor and the kids’ rooms upstairs. The windows are not at street level so there’s less of a chance of someone looking in while walking or driving by.

There are also some cons to consider:

  • Safety Concerns. Stairs can pose a safety hazard, especially to the elderly or small children. They can increase the risk of accidents and injuries, making them a less suitable option for individuals with mobility challenges. If you have small children, use a gate to keep them protected. Consider a staircase with a landing, too. 
  • Higher Maintenance Costs/Lower Energy Efficiency. Two-story homes may require more frequent exterior maintenance, such as painting or gutter cleaning, due to increased height and exposure to the elements. When it comes to efficiency, as heat rises, the upper levels may be warmer than the lower levels. This can lead to increased utility costs for heating and cooling the home.
  • Increased Noise Levels. Two-story homes often have increased noise transfer between floors, as sound waves can travel more easily from one level to the next.


Ultimately, the choice between a one-story and two-story home comes down to personal preferences, lifestyle needs, and budget. Think about how you will use your home, who will live there with you, and what features are most important to you. 


  • Which do you like better, one- or two-story homes? 
  • How long are you planning to stay in the home? 
  • How large of a yard do you want? 
  • What are your privacy requirements? 


At Ernest Homes, we have a range of both one- and two-story home designs. Keep some of the questions above in mind and answer them honestly to ensure you choose the right home for your lifestyle now and into the future. Get started now by browsing through our communities and floor plans. If you have questions, we’re more than happy to provide guidance or suggestions, contact our team today!

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