Whether you are building your dream house or are buying a house you are planning to eventually re-sell, you may have wondered if you should look into a single-story home or a two-story home instead. The choice is partially a matter of fashion. Ranch-style homes were all the rage after the Second World War but lost steam in favor of two-story homes in the early 2000s. They are now back in style, with 46 percent of new construction being single-story home as of 2011.


Does it mean that two-story homes have more value than single-story homes?


Both styles have their pros and cons that one should carefully consider before picking one over the other.



Two-story homes:

Advantages of two-story homes

  • When it comes to building a house, for an equal surface, a two-story home is cheaper to build than a ranch-style home since costly elements (like the roof and the foundation) are divided by two.
  • Since the footprint of the house is typically smaller than a similar sized one-story home, the outdoor space available is more important
  • Two-story homes allow for a separation between private spaces (like the bedrooms) and the reception areas, like the dining room and guest bedrooms for more privacy
  • More design options than cookie-cutter ranch-style homes



Disadvantages of two-story homes:

  • The staircase can occupy up to 100 square feet of living space
  • Stairs can be dangerous, particularly for seniors and young families with children
  • Lifestyle wise, it can be a hassle to run up and down the stairs to do laundry, haul the vacuum from the first to the second floor, etc.




Single-story home:

Advantages of single-story homes:

  • The main reason why many people (up to 64 percent of the buyers surveyed according to a poll from the National Association of Home Builders) prefer a single-story home to a two-story one is that it allows them to age in place, particularly for baby-boomers or those who are buying their “forever home.”
  • In case of an emergency (in areas frequently affected by earthquakes for example) or in a house fire, it is much easier to escape from a single-story home
  • From a maintenance point of view, a single-story home allows to bypass scaffoldings to clean gutters or power wash the outside walls.
  • If you are planning to modify the building (like adding an extra bedroom to accommodate a growing family or an in-law apartment for example), it is significantly easier to add on to the structure of a single-story home
  • They are usually cheaper to heat and cool down than multi-story dwellings.



Disadvantages of single-story homes:

  • Single-story homes are typically less private (especially if you forget to draw the blinds in the evenings)
  • They do not necessarily offer separate living spaces, something many families with growing children and teenagers are interested in.
  • They are more vulnerable to burglary and home-invasion as ill-intentioned individuals can see more easily through the windows


Although the choice between single-story homes and multi-story homes is often a question of taste, ranch-style buildings are highly sought after by a growing number of potential buyers. However, when it comes to value, appraisers try to stick as much as possible to similar types of housing as far as comparables. A word of caution: atypical buildings (like a ranch in a neighborhood of two-story homes) often have a lower value than their conforming neighbors.