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inGearX
3.1415 9265

join:2000-06-11
New York

one story vs two story houses - pos vs neg?

what are the advantages / disadvantages of having a one story vs a two story house?

and when building your own house - for your self ...

should be interesting to discuss...



tschmidt
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
kudos:9
Reviews:
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To some degree this is driven by regional preferences.

I grew up outside Chicago where ranch style is popular. Here in New England 2 story capes are the most common style of home. When we built our house designed it as a cape.

Two stories provide isolation between "public" and private space. We have a three bedroom home where all three bedrooms are on the 2nd floor.

Two story homes are more energy efficient, less square footage exposed to the elements.

For a given amount of floor space, basement or at least the foundation is half the size.

One of the major downsides is if a family member is infirm getting to the second floor is difficult.

Something else to think about is the basement. We built on hilly terrain so we could have a walk out basement. That vastly improves quality of basement living. In addition we heat with wood and the stove is in the basement. That keeps a lot of dirt out of the main part of the house.

On balance having lived in both I prefer 2 story Capes at least until I get too inform to walk up/down stairs.

/tom



Mark910
Premium
join:2002-04-21
Dayton, OH
reply to inGearX

Ranch. 1 floor. As you age you will appreciate no stairs.


Bob4
Account deleted

join:2012-07-22
New Jersey

1 recommendation

reply to inGearX

If you spend all your time in the basement, it doesn't matter.



GadgetsRme
RIP lilhurricane
Premium
join:2002-01-30
Canon City, CO
reply to inGearX

The first question in my mind is how old are you? Reason being that falls on stairs are a very common cause of debilitating injury for those in their retirement years. The wife and I made it a requirement when we moved that our new house have no stairs as it is the house we intend to retire in. My wife is a nurse and one of the things learned over the years is that the average life expectancy of a senior over the age of 80 after a fall that breaks a major bone like a hip or pelvis is 1-2 years. So that should be a big consideration. After that it is the physical condition of the prospective occupants and then your personal preferences.

+1 to Mark910
--
Gadgets


robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1
reply to inGearX

2 story houses take less land space so many times a person has no choice if they need a house of a certain square footage and the zoning limits size based on lot size. They are also cheaper to build and heat/cool. As previously stated, stairs can be a problem. If I were to build a two story I would make sure there was one nice sized bedroom on the first floor so that a person or couple can live on the one floor if health conditions change. I would also design the house with aligning closets first and second so that a small elevator could be added if needed. Interesting that for most people, when you say two story they think three as there is a basement. Here in Texas if it's single story, that exactly what you get -- a single story (and many times no attic space for storage either).



inGearX
3.1415 9265

join:2000-06-11
New York
reply to tschmidt

said by tschmidt:

To some degree this is driven by regional preferences.

I grew up outside Chicago where ranch style is popular. Here in New England 2 story capes are the most common style of home. When we built our house designed it as a cape.

Two stories provide isolation between "public" and private space. We have a three bedroom home where all three bedrooms are on the 2nd floor.

Two story homes are more energy efficient, less square footage exposed to the elements.

For a given amount of floor space, basement or at least the foundation is half the size.

One of the major downsides is if a family member is infirm getting to the second floor is difficult.

Something else to think about is the basement. We built on hilly terrain so we could have a walk out basement. That vastly improves quality of basement living. In addition we heat with wood and the stove is in the basement. That keeps a lot of dirt out of the main part of the house.

On balance having lived in both I prefer 2 story Capes at least until I get too inform to walk up/down stairs.

/tom

Tom thank you so much for sharing - very interesting and informative


dennismurphy
Put me on hold? I'll put YOU on hold
Premium
join:2002-11-19
Parsippany, NJ
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to inGearX

We bought a ranch-style home on 1/3 acre last year here in NJ... and I love it!

Very easy to work on - all of the plumbing, wiring, etc. is easy access from the full basement.

The basement is split in two - the front 2/3 or so is a finished area, and the back is 'unfinished' - the washer/dryer, a half bath, my home office, and a workout room are back there, as well as storage space underneath the master bedroom.

I'm in love with this house design. Also has a full attic overhead but I don't have any items in there for storage - managed to get all my crap to fit in the garage and the basement. Trying not to put anything up there if I can help it.

The disadvantage I see thus far is a) The interior is somewhat 'boring' - no fancy staircases, etc. No big deal to me.
And b) when I'm going to need a new roof, it's going to cost more $$ than a 2-story house since it's just, well, bigger.

Overall though, we're thrilled!



sempergoofy
Premium
join:2001-07-06
Smyrna, GA
Reviews:
·AT&T Southeast
reply to inGearX

Some areas of consideration:
How many pathways (stairways) to access the second floor? Is one enough?

Are the stairwells large enough to easily accommodate large furniture?

Fire safety. Escape ladders for second story bedroom escape.

Zoned (i.e. dual) air conditioning/heating give you more parts to maintain, but the benefits of extra control.

Consider designing in a dumb waiter if building on your own. (I would not have thought of that if I had not recently been a guest in a house that had one. Was great to get the luggage upstairs.)
--
nohup rm -fr /&



inGearX
3.1415 9265

join:2000-06-11
New York
reply to GadgetsRme

said by GadgetsRme:

The first question in my mind is how old are you? Reason being that falls on stairs are a very common cause of debilitating injury for those in their retirement years. The wife and I made it a requirement when we moved that our new house have no stairs as it is the house we intend to retire in. My wife is a nurse and one of the things learned over the years is that the average life expectancy of a senior over the age of 80 after a fall that breaks a major bone like a hip or pelvis is 1-2 years. So that should be a big consideration. After that it is the physical condition of the prospective occupants and then your personal preferences.

+1 to Mark910

thank you good info

I'm 30

but I plan on living


inGearX
3.1415 9265

join:2000-06-11
New York
reply to robbin

said by robbin:

2 story houses take less land space so many times a person has no choice if they need a house of a certain square footage and the zoning limits size based on lot size. They are also cheaper to build and heat/cool. As previously stated, stairs can be a problem. If I were to build a two story I would make sure there was one nice sized bedroom on the first floor so that a person or couple can live on the one floor if health conditions change. I would also design the house with aligning closets first and second so that a small elevator could be added if needed. Interesting that for most people, when you say two story they think three as there is a basement. Here in Texas if it's single story, that exactly what you get -- a single story (and many times no attic space for storage either).

great info thank you


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
reply to inGearX

I grew up in a single floor house and bought myself a two story house. I can definitively see how elderly people would hate the stairs, but that's pretty much it.

The reason I bought a 2 story house is because we're a young family.

I remember several down sides to the single story house when I was growing up:

- When I'd be going to sleep, I could still hear my parents watching TV in the living room (they were far from each others, but linked by a straight corridor).

- People staying in the bedrooms (studying, tired, sick, sleeping late) were not "isolated" enough from those active at the same time (Living room, kitchen).

- When I became a teenager, I wanted more privacy. My bedroom had my computer, a TV, you know, my little bachelor's pad. However it'd still "feel" my parents in the living room or kitchen.

My father pretty much had the basement finished because he needed that same isolation for his man cave.

All in all, aside from antisocial behavior, it's really about noise isolation. When you're sleeping upstairs, you don't hear the TV as much, you don't feel the floor vibration if someone is jumping/running around.



Pacrat
Old and Cranky
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-10
Cortland, OH
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
reply to inGearX

We bought/had built what is known as a raised ranch floorplan back in 1975. It's essentially a three-bedroom, living room, kitchen, dining room, and bath on the second floor, with the garage, utility room, and family room at ground level... on a slab. It's probably the most efficient plan to heat or cool, and my wife refers to it as our "tree house"! As wives sometimes do with their neighborhood girlfriends, when comparing heating and cooling costs, we always have the lowest ones in the area. The slab is 26x40' so we end up with about 1,465 sq ft of living space plus a double garage.

When we were in our younger years, the stairs were no big deal. Now that my wife and I are well into our sixties, and she has rheumatoid arthritis... and I have developed some osteoarthritis in my lower back, the stairs are a royal pain in the ass. Doing the laundry downstairs, and bringing the groceries up to the kitchen can be quite a chore. If I had the opportunity to relive my choice of home plan, I'd certainly build a ranch with a basement. Lack of general storage space has been a problem for years, resulting in outdoor storage buildings. Plus I'd like a little corner of the basement to use as a "shop" for various projects.

When we were young, it was no big deal... but with advancing age... it's beginning to be a problem.

We didn't plan on being in this home for the rest of our lives, but it seems to be turning out that way. We like where we're at and have no desire to relocate, even though my two oldest daughters have been trying to convince us to move to Arizona since I retired in 2002. As a starter home for someone with one or two kids, it's really practical. As a retirement abode for a couple of semi-infirmed old farts... it sucks!

Just an aside... when I replaced my old furnace some years ago, the HVAC salesman asked to see our heating/cooling bills for a period of time. Based on his assessment of our heating costs he tried veru hard to dissuade us from purchasing a high-efficiency Carrier furnace due to its inherently higher cost. He admitted that he could usually state the the unit would pay for itself in so many years due to reduced operating costs, but since ours were so low to begin with, he hesitated to use that as a selling point as it was pretty much a moot point.
--
Keep your eye on the ball, your shoulder to the wheel, your nose to the grindstone, and your ear to the ground. Now, try to work in that position!!!



vircotto

join:2002-06-04
searching...
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to inGearX

I agree with tschmidt. And what people wanted changed over time.

Interestingly, a much older relative of mine grew up just outside Chicago and during a recent visit to his family home, we talked about this. He moved in during the 1950's as a little kid. The houses were mostly all multistory houses (plus full or half basement) in various styles, most built in the early 1900's through the 1930's. (No central air, electricity added afterwards, detached garages, etc. His house had a coal chute and he showed me where gas lights were originally located. His house has 60-amp service to this day.)

Past the end of his block north, for almost a half mile to the nearest east-west road was empty fields. He and the neighborhood kids used it as their playground. Starting in the early 60's, all of that land was cut up into subdivisions covered in single story (plus basement) ranchers. He said that everyone was extolling the virtues of ranchers with all of the modern conveniences (central air, wall-to-wall carpets, upgraded appliances, attached garages, etc).

By the 70's, all of the open land was gone, and multistory houses made a comeback. People started tearing down some of the old houses and even some of the not-so-old ranchers and built multistory houses again.

Last, of course, came the McMansions. Most lots were about .25 acre, but some areas had larger lots. Some folks bought 2 houses side-by-side, tore them down and built a really big house. (Until the local city government decided they didn't want that trend growing and started throwing up zoning roadblocks.)


graniterock

join:2003-03-14
London, ON
reply to inGearX

As someone who grew up in a ranch style and now live in a two story I am surprised as to how hot the upstairs gets on the top floor as compaired to the main floor.


scooper

join:2000-07-11
Youngsville, NC
kudos:2
reply to inGearX

When the wife and me bought this house (a 2400 sq ft singlestory contemporary), we were in our mid - late 30's. We like having the large rooms- but it also makes doing home improvement projects rather expensive - replacing our roof was a $10000 investment. Doing the interior rooms will be similarly expensive (which is why we haven't done very much).

On the plus side - it's a piece of cake to run plumbing / wiring as necessary, with easy access crawlspace and attic. We have a single unit heatpump / propane furnace - a 4 ton heat pump and a similarly sized furnace in the crawlspace. As we get older, I appreciate not having the stairs.



rbnice1

join:2000-12-16
Fenton, MO

1 recommendation

reply to inGearX

Might also look at 1.5 story houses. Thats what we ended up building. Gives the kids the upper story as there domain, with the master on the main floor.

I may just lock the kids upstairs and shove food to them once in a while through the door. Kills 2 birds with 1 stone. 1. our main floor will stay looking great. 2. I will not have to worry about grubby boyfriends. :P


markf

join:2008-01-24
Burlington, ON
kudos:1
Reviews:
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reply to inGearX

I would say a big factor for me would be land costs. Where I am, to purchase a lot would be expensive enough and I would want as much outdoor space as possible, so I would give 2 story.

While I understand the when we get older argument in favour of a bungalow, I have a long way to go yet. I would probably want to downsize from my next home into my "retirement " home too.

To have the land for a one story would mean being out of town, (or paying a fortune) so more driving, and at an advanced age I would see that as less desirable. If I were custom building I would make sure the stairs are wide enough to accommodate a lift if necessary.



PoloDude
Premium,VIP
join:2006-03-29
Northport, NY
kudos:3
reply to inGearX

I have lived in all all types. Capes,ranches,2 story and split levels.
1st I hated hated hated the split. UPstairs just seemd like a small ranch. the large stairwell to the lower level just made it seem wide open to it. there never was any privacy. My ranch had privacy because of the addition of a den off of the kitchen dining room wall.
I did not think I would like the 2 story. It has turned out to be one of my favs. I like having the 2nd story and looking out over the back yard. The Upstairs has quite a bit of privacy. The wife has some major studying to do last year and was able to do it while I watched tv (and wasted time here) downstairs. The most amount of living space for your roof area.
--
“My horse fights with me and fasts with me because if he is to carry me into battle, he must know my heart and I must know his or we shall never become brothers.
-Plenty Coups, Chief of the Crow”



Voxxjin
Made of Hamburger
Premium
join:2010-01-13
Dupont, WA
Reviews:
·CenturyLink

1 recommendation

reply to inGearX

I agree with many of the others. I only offer one other suggestion. if you do get/build a two story home, try to put the laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms. Carrying baskets of clothes up and down the stairs get old real fast.
--
Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war



BillRoland
Premium
join:2001-01-21
Ocala, FL
kudos:3
Reviews:
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reply to inGearX

I've lived in one stories my whole life (concrete slab, no basement). My brother lives in a two story. My take, I've always liked the idea of living in a 2 story, but, I don't know if I would like it in practice. Climbing stairs, while good exercise, gets to be a pain, especially moving furniture or heavy items up them. Then you can hear people moving around on the wood floor (not really an issue on a concrete slab).

I guess I wouldn't rule either out, would come down to how well liked the house and how well I liked the price.
--
Ron Paul 2012 »www.ronpaul2012.com
Beyond AM. Beyond FM. (((XM)))



KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
reply to Voxxjin

When I was a boy we lived for a time in a house that was 2 stories and a basement. The bedrooms were on the 2nd story and the laundry was in the basement.

However, the house had a laundry chute and a dumbwaiter. As I kid I used to think both were amazing.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini



BubbaKlinton

@comcast.net
reply to scooper

said by scooper:

When the wife and me bought this house (a 2400 sq ft singlestory contemporary),...

We have a single unit heatpump / propane furnace - a 4 ton heat pump and a similarly sized furnace in the crawlspace.

Unless you are in AZ near the Mexican border, that heat pump is WAY too big. Even there, it is too big. AC makes us feel comfortable by controlling humidity -- plus heat. You will be MUCH more comfortable at 85 degrees and 40 percent humidity than 70 degrees and 80 percent humidity.

Next time you replace the system (and that happens about every 16 years or so unless it is ground source) have a mechanical engineer look at the numbers.

It wouldn't surprise me that some previous owner got some idiot HVAC contractor to install a hugely oversized unit.

Going smaller will save you in power bills too.


BubbaKlinton

@comcast.net
reply to graniterock

said by graniterock:

As someone who grew up in a ranch style and now live in a two story I am surprised as to how hot the upstairs gets on the top floor as compaired to the main floor.

That is an HVAC design issue. The system was not well designed, but it can be fixed. Have an HVAC expert come in and balance the system. They will restrict the flow to the registers on the first floor, which will mean more air to the second.

You must be careful though. If the system is restricted too much, you will have system freeze up problems in Summer.

This is one reason many new new homes have two HVAC systems. Plus it gives more control, and some redundancy. I really understand that right now -- NO AC. If you have two units and the first floor system fails, sleeping is still OK. If the second floor unit fails, you just sleep on the first floor.


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
reply to Voxxjin

Ever been on the first floor under the "Laundry Room" when the washer and dryer are in operation?


scooper

join:2000-07-11
Youngsville, NC
kudos:2
reply to BubbaKlinton

We were the ones who put this in in 1997 - the previous unit had failed. Being relative newbies to this (and not much internet about this), we took the contractor's recomendation. Next time - we'll be having a Manual J calculation done , but it wouldn't surprise me if we are a little oversized - we can hold 70 degrees inside on a 100+ degree day outside (and with NC humidity, to boot) - and we aren't running 100% duty cycle to hold 75 inside in those conditions.


Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
kudos:1
Reviews:
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·Comcast
·CenturyLink
reply to BillRoland

Click for full size
Foot of staircase.
Click for full size
Head of stairs
Click for full size
Landing looking down.
If you build or buy a two story house do not install a staircase like this one. Here are some photographs and some of the problems with the staircase:

1) The top photograph shows the foot of the stairway ending at the first floor hall. The stairway is so narrow that it almost does not meet the width requirement for a stair way lift. Make sure you build a wide enough staircase. Normally the rail the seat rides on has to be bolted to the floor at the foot of the stairs. That means the rail would stick out in the hallway. One stairway lift manufacture offers a automatic folding rail for an additional $1,000.00 on top of a $3,400.00 cost for the basic lift.

2) The middle photograph shows the top of the staircase. To descend the stairs you have to turn right, walk down three stairs, make a 180 degree turn on the landing and then walk down the stairs shown in the bottom photograph. This scheme makes it very difficult to move furniture to the second floor.

If you are considering an elevator you can save money if you install a wheelchair lift. A wheelchair lift has an open platform with formed metal sides. It does not operate automatically. The user must hold down a button until the lift ascends or descends to the desired level. Most wheelchair lifts can accommodate three landings, for example, Basement, First Floor, Second Floor. I was quoted about $18,000.00 for a wheel chair lift and $30,000.00 for an automatic elevator without a basement landing.

If I was building a two story house I would have the shaft way for an elevator or wheelchair lift constructed with the house. I saw one proposed design where the shaft way formed two aligned closets. The cross beams for the floor of the second floor closet was dropped onto brackets. The floor and brackets could be removed if the elevator was installed. If you can afford it install the wheelchair lift when you build the house and get full use of it.

This house has no aligned closets so a shaft way would have to be constructed on the outside of the house. I saw one design where hallways were aligned one above the other with a window at the end of each hallway. The windows were replaced with doors and a shaft way was constructed at the end of the hallways to accommodate the elevator.


Snakeoil
Ignore Button. The coward's feature.
Premium
join:2000-08-05
Mentor, OH
kudos:1
reply to inGearX

Advantages of 1 story:
No stairs to climb when going to get the laundry.
Even heat, A/C distribution.
Easy to access roof, and the rest of the home exterior.

Disadvantage:
Can have a large footprint. Meaning on a less then an acre of land plot, it'd be more house vs lawn.

Advantages of a 2 story:
Smaller foot print. Meaning more lawn, less house.

Disadvantage:
Uneven heat, A/C distribution. The upstairs can be warmer in the summer time then downstairs, and hotter in the winter then down stairs.

Having 1 or possibly 2 flights of stairs to climb. When you are young stairs aren't an issue, but as you age and your joints start to go, they become an issue.

Roof, second story exterior being hard to get to. If you own/can afford a ladder to reach that high, and heights don't bother you, then this isn't a big deal. But if you don't own a ladder that tall, or heights bother you, it is a big deal.
--
Is a person a failure for doing nothing? Or is he a failure for trying, and not succeeding at what he is attempting to do? What did you fail at today?.



Snakeoil
Ignore Button. The coward's feature.
Premium
join:2000-08-05
Mentor, OH
kudos:1
reply to Mr Matt

Interesting. I had never given an elevator a thought. Though if it starts around 30k, it might be better just to use that money and buy a one story home.

But if building a home, I can see having it planed/put in, during the planing stage. Plus, it could be a feature that a future buyer might be interested in.

Our two story home would have to have an exterior elevator shaft built on. The home is 30/40 years old, and I doubt that they thought about wheel chair access to the second story that far back.

--
Is a person a failure for doing nothing? Or is he a failure for trying, and not succeeding at what he is attempting to do? What did you fail at today?.



dosdoxies
Premium
join:2004-12-15
Wallingford, PA
reply to inGearX

I think whether you have kids or not should factor in the decision. When I was a tyke my family lived in an old 3 story house with 10 or 12 foot ceilings and I can't count the times I took a fall down those stairs. I sure wish we had lived in a 1 story then.