Is a single-storey home better than a double?

2020/06/03

By Monique Reprezas

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Two bedroom townhouse in Óbidos | Image by Neves & Ferrão

Are you looking for a new home or going to have one built? The beginning of the building process is very interesting, as you will be able to choose from a variety of designs. You will have to make a lot of important decisions, and one of them might be the decision between a single-storey and a double-storey house. 

Regarding the question of whether a single-storey home is better than a double-storey home, as with most things in life, the answer is not simple.

Everyone has a personal opinion and their own individual tastes regarding style, design and staircases, however, there are practical advantages and disadvantages to both. One of the factors that you will need to take into consideration is getting approval for your new home from your local council. The style, as well as the size of the residential buildings that surround your chosen plot of land may indicate what your local council would deem acceptable.

Once you have decided to have your own house built, you will realize that it comes with the freedom of making other decisions. An example of these decisions would be the freedom to choose the size of your plot, the freedom to choose your own style and elements that will suit your budget and to create the home of your dreams. The choice between these two types of buildings is drawn from the location, the local real estate market, the budget and your plans for your future. Do you plan on retiring in your new home or do you plan on selling it in the future?

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Two bedroom townhouse in Óbidos drawing | Image by Neves & Ferrão

Advantages of a single-storey home

The first thing I would like to highlight is the fact that you will not need to compromise money or space on staircases. Not having a staircase removes the risk of accidental falls from the staircase. It would also be easier to evacuate the building in the case of an emergency.

It is more convenient for people to move around a home that has one level, especially for people who are disabled. It is seen as safer for the elderly as well as young children.  They also encourage families to spend more time together, rather than in separate upstairs and downstairs areas.

There are also more design options available because one floor living allows for more variation in ceiling heights, as well as skylights.

Single-storey homes take better advantage of natural light as there are more opportunities for the placement of skylights.

Disadvantages of a single-storey home:

There are certainly disadvantages when it comes to single-storey homes and one of the main negative points would be the fact that it occupies a greater footprint on the plot of land. This means that you would have less backyard space, which means less lawn as well as less space for features such as patio areas, swimming pools and wooden decks. 

You will also have a sense of less privacy and more exposure if you live in a neighbourhood because you would basically be on the same level as everyone else. This would not count if you live in the woods of course. 


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Two bedroom duplex in Camarate | Image by Neves & Ferrão

Advantages of a double-storey home:

Now let's proceed to talking about the double-storey home. There will obviously be more beautiful views. Sometimes the views from higher levels are so magnificent, that this would be enough to build your home to allow you to enjoy those views. These types of homes offer more visual appeal, but it will depend on the architectural style, your individual needs as well as your personal taste.

There are more attachment points on this type of house for porches. This type of house also offers privacy, as the upstairs bedrooms are more private when you build in a neighbourhood. If you have children or teenagers, you will appreciate the second-floor, which will help you enjoy your relaxation time without disturbance.

The house will be taking less land space up, which means that there will be more outdoor space. Double-storey homes can also provide more living options. For example, you could keep the bedrooms on the second floor, or, you could divide the living areas to allow large families to live in separate zones.

Disadvantages of a double-storey home:

There are two things I would like to highlight first, which has already been noted in the advantages of a single-storey, the staircase would take up living space as well as add to the costs, and there would be a lack of variety in ceiling heights. Ceiling heights for this type of home is typically lower than single-floor homes of equal measurements regarding square footage.

Stairs present potential danger for the disabled, the elderly and for young children, as staircases could result in accidents. Installing a stairlift may be needed if you have a member in the home that requires this for mobility to the top floor. Also consider when you get older, tackling the stairs will become more difficult with age.

This type of home takes longer to build because of the second floor, the added staircase and at times, a deeper foundation is needed as well. Other construction considerations include securing planning approval as well as considering the size and location of the land of interest.

Remember that sound still travels, so think carefully about the rooms that will be placed above others, as sound travels between floors as well.

 

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Two bedroom townhouse in Luanda | Image by Neves & Ferrão

Are you asking yourself whether the size of the plot matters? Yes, it certainly does. If you have already purchased your plot, the decision between a single or double-storey home could already be made for you. If you are unsure, check with your architect. A double-storey home can maximise the bedroom and living spaces and can leave more room for a backyard as well as a pool area, if the desired plot is small and narrow.

The fact that a house has one or two floors, turns out to be indifferent in the way it affects its ability to stay cool or warm in the cooling or heating seasons, respectively. The relevant factors will therefore be its volume, and the exposed surface. When there is a greater amount of surface, compared to the volume, it will be harder to keep warm in winter and cool in summer. However, when there is a reduced amount of surface, compared to its volume, this would be easier to maintain these temperatures.

Regarding affordability, it is not possible to state which type of home is more affordable because pricing will depend on a number of factors, for example, the complexities between the two, the excavation/foundation and the rafters/roof installation, the footprint sizes and whether scaffolding and stairs are required or not. 

Regarding investment decisions, you need to consider both immediate plans as well as future plans. Building a home that is flexible would be best, as what you want now may differ in time to come. 

So, remember that what works for one family may not work for another and every member of the household will need to be considered regarding their needs. 

 


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