This is a question many homebuyers contend with. On a practical note, split level homes are great for growing families and those who are looking get the most square foot for their money. They usually have a smaller building footprint which equates to more usable yard space. They also tend to provide more separation in the home for perhaps a home office or second living space.
You do however lose some usable square footage for the stairs as well entry and exit landings. Split level homes also tend to feel a little more broken up when compared to the open feeling of a one level. Many feel they do not offer the same curb appeal as a single level home. Split level homes also do not appeal as much to the aging population.
This is often a question that boils down to cost specifically, cost per square foot. Generally speaking, split level offers considerable more square footage for the money, but why is that? When considering which option best suits your needs, it is important to consider where the savings is coming from.
The most obvious savings are in the foundation and in the roof. For a true split level, you only need half the roofing materials as you would for a comparable sized ranch. You can likewise expect to up save up to 35% on materials for the foundation. Another difference many buyers do not appreciate is the less evident savings are in lumber.
Single level homes, especially newer designs tend to be more open style floor plans. These tend to include larger rooms with fewer walls than a two story home. This generally means the span or overall length of the wood beams must be longer. This means they will probably have to be thicker to be able to support the same weight for a shorter distance.
If you’ve ever been to your local hardware store to buy lumber, you know the price goes up exponentially. While a common stud 2”x4”x8’ might only cost $3, a double in length 2”x4”x16’ might cost you $10 where as 2”x12”x24’ might be $60 or more. In addition, building codes may require specific more costly grades of lumber for certain larger applications.
Sometimes it feels as if you are trying to compare apples to oranges because in a lot of ways you are. Throw in a variation such as a single level with a bonus, and it gets even more confusing. So how do you accurately compare the pricing on these different style homes? Even if you know the style you want, you still need to be able to compare its value to other sometimes dissimilar homes in the area.
As a former new home representative and sales manager, I know comparing value for different style homes can sometimes be challenging, but we are here to help. If you would like assistance evaluating a prospective home or homes, please contact us.