Planning your build

One Story vs Two Story Houses.

Should you build a one or two story home?

At the beginning of any new homebuyers’ journey, the decision on whether to build a one or two story home is a major one that could impact your family’s lifestyle for years to come. It is essential to do your research before choosing the right house design for your family’s current and future plans.

In this article, we have outlined a few key considerations that will help you choose between building a one or two story home, including building costs, floor plans, land size, and the lot’s aspect. Making the right decision based on these elements will help improve your family’s lifestyle, help maximize the features of the property, utilize the lot better, and even help improve your return on investment over time.

Location and lot size

When deciding whether to build a one vs two story house, the first consideration, and potentially the most important consideration, is the size of your piece of land. Over the past couple of years, property prices have soared in both the inner city and suburban markets – leading to homebuyers spending more money on smaller lot sizes.

For this reason, many home buyers are deciding to capitalize on their new smaller lot size by building a two story home or even a three story home to create the living space that many families desire. When there is no room to build outwards, the only option left is to build up.

However, when moving away from high residential locations, there are more opportunities to own and develop a large plot of land. As we move further away from the city, we see larger pieces of land with one story homes. These properties and home designs are still a very popular option for families and downsizers.


When considering the cost of building a one story home versus a two story home, it should be no surprise that building a two story home is more expensive than staying on one level. On average, you can expect to pay 30% more when building a two story home than a one story home of comparative size.

Additional costs when building an additional level to your home can include:

  • Plans and permits to satisfy local laws and regulations.
  • Scaffolding to aid in construction.
  • Steel manufacturing to support the additional load.
  • Inclusion of multiple staircases for safe access to the second level.

You can also expect the build to take longer and the potential for unexpected extra costs during construction.

However, it is also worth considering that with the added construction cost comes the benefit of selling the home for more. This simply leaves the decision about whether it is worth the value for money and level of investment up to the customer.

Maximizing your property

Whether or not you should select a one or two story build also depends on the aspects of the property and what will maximize your piece of land.

For example, many home builders prefer a two story home design so that their home can have the best view possible and to ensure that trees or other one story homes don’t block their view. Views also add value to any property, whether your home looks out over city skylines or ocean waves.

If your property has beautiful surroundings, this may be a deciding factor in choosing to build a two story home. The invaluable respite and connection gained from a view can often be one of the main reasons people will add a second floor.

Assess the layout of the home

Another design aspect that needs to be considered is the desired layout and floor plan for the home. One story floor plans are great for achieving an open plan house that has large living areas and great flow.

On the other hand, two story homes can be more flexible in terms of layout and are a great option for allowing for more privacy for family members. They can provide zoned living arrangements or separate spaces for entertaining and living.

Consider your family needs and lifestyle.

Every family situation is unique and has different needs to best suit their lifestyle. What may work for one household will not necessarily be the best option for yours.

You should consider how you like to spend your free time if you require more privacy to work from home, have teenagers who want to entertain, or if you want to have room for children to play. If a family has children, the greater privacy and sense of separation afforded by a two story house is the best way to go.

Alternatively, if you live with elderly or disabled family members, it may be beneficial to keep everything at ground level to avoid difficulties walking up and down stairs. This should also be a consideration if you are building a house that you plan to retire in.

Single story and double story house plans

G.J. Gardner Homes offer a great selection of both double story and single story house plans. Some of our single story house plans include:

  • A spacious feature packed home, the Barclay impresses with intelligent design and distinctive curb appeal.
  • The Lincoln is a high performing three bedroom home designed for compact lots and urban living.
  • The Bristol design is family home that is big on substance and style, tailored around a central courtyard that includes an attached, self-contained 557 square foot ADU.

Some of our two story homes include:

  • The Ashland two-story design combines simplicity with functionality, and with three distinct living areas there is plenty of space and privacy for the entire family
  • Offering the perfect blend of space and style, the Concord design has everything the modern family needs – including a 535 square foot attached ADU. 
  • Take advantage of stunning views achieved by elevated, second floor living with the Grandview.

Find out if a one or two storey home is right for you.

If you have any questions or want to get started on building your dream home, contact your local G.J. Gardner office today for exceptional and friendly service.