Hello, readers! Welcome to the Architecture Plus blog! We provide useful information concerning architectural design, unique trends, and essential aspects of the residential and commercial building process. Based out of Charleston, our full-service firm specializes in new residential construction, renovation, and commercial design. We aim to create sustainable structures which facilitate the health of their inhabitants while pairing harmoniously with their surrounding community. We encourage you to take a look at our residential and commercial galleries to glimpse our work and assess our artistic vision. If you need any additional information, reach out to us!

Our last article took a look at some of the most influential architects of all time. Architecture itself dates back to prehistoric times and has always been a way for people to express culture. There are many architectural styles out there, and architects have almost always been influenced by those who came before them. We discussed architectural pioneers such as Antoni Gaudi, I.M. Pei, Frank Lloyd Wright, and more! If you are interested in learning more about some of these influential architects, we encourage you to check out our last post. 

Today, we’ll be discussing one-story and two-story homes and taking a look at some of their advantages and disadvantages. The number of stories in a home doesn’t just affect the way it looks from the outside– It plays a role in how someone will navigate the inside. Although one-story or multi-story homes are usually a matter of preference for the homeowner or buyer, it can also impact the value of the home. Additionally, if you are an architect or builder, the type of home you choose to design or build may depend on the land you have available. If you want to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of one-story and two-story homes, you’re in the right place. Let’s get started.

One-Story Homes

Perhaps the most well-known type of one-story home is the ranch-style home. This style of architecture combined modernist ideas and styles with ideas of the American Western period. This included a long profile, built close to the ground, with a wide-open layout. It first appeared as a residential style in the 1920s and became extremely popular post-World War II from the 1940s to the 1970s. 

Although one-story homes only consist of one floor, this does not mean they have to lack amenities. In fact, today’s one-story or ranch-style homes are anything but plain– They can be designed and built in a variety of styles to meet a buyer’s specific needs. Single-story homes typically require a larger plot of land, because they require wider foundations. However, as an architect, you can use this to your advantage. One-story homes provide more flexibility in the design of the interior. This means you have more freedom to include taller or vaulted ceilings, as well as larger windows. Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of one-story homes.


  • One-story homes tend to have fewer walls. This makes for a better flow and more open space. Oftentimes, this allows you to combine rooms such as the dining room and living room, which provides a larger and more open space for people to gather.
  • Having everything on one level leaves room for a bigger basement. This can easily be used for more storage or can be transformed into a game room. Typically, the basement of a one-story home tends to be twice as big as that of a two-story home.
  • One-story homes are easier to maintain because everything is on one floor. This includes maintenance both inside and outside of the house. For example, you don’t need to trek cleaning supplies up and down stairs. If maintenance needs to be done outside, like power washing or painting, it is more accessible.
  • Another big advantage of one-story homes is that they are typically safer. Having no stairs means you don’t have to worry about falls, especially if you have toddlers or if you are a senior. Single-story homes are also easier to evacuate in case of a fire.


  • Since one-story homes tend to require larger plots of land, building or even adding on can be more costly. A one-story home is more costly per square foot, and since these homes tend to be longer, they will require more roofing materials. 
  • Additionally, one-story homes may require a more expensive cooling and heating system, since the systems need to extend the length of the house.
  • Because one-story homes tend to take up more space on a lot, the yard may end up being smaller.
  • With single-story homes, there tends to be a lack of privacy. This is because all of the bedrooms will, inevitably, be on the same floor. 

Two-Story Homes

While multi-story buildings date back to ancient Rome, two-story houses didn’t necessarily become popular in the United States until the late 1970s. One of the most popular types of two-story homes is in the Colonial architectural style. They are built in a traditional architectural style that dates back to Colonial times and gained popularity because they allow for more square footage on a smaller lot. Two-story homes tend to be more loved by those with a larger family, and are known for a visually appealing look. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of two-story homes.


  • Having a second floor allows for more privacy. Bedrooms can be spaced out or on different floors, allowing people living in the home to go somewhere more secluded if they prefer.
  • There are well-defined spaces within a two-story home. You can keep social and entertaining areas quite separate from more private areas like bedrooms.
  • If the neighborhood has impressive scenery, having a second floor can take advantage of this, allowing for a better view.
  • Two-story homes may deter burglars or others with malevolent intentions. For example, if you leave a window open on a one-story home, it allows for quick and easy access to your home. With a window open on the second floor, burglars are less likely to scale the side of the home to get in.
  • Two-story homes leave some extra room for design options since there are two levels to play with.
  • Since these homes are taller rather than longer, they use fewer materials and are often cheaper to build.


  • With stairs, there is a greater risk of accidents. Additionally, you may find lugging items up and down the stairs to be a hassle. As you age, you may find it more difficult to move around your home.
  • Maintenance can be a bit more tricky with a two-story home. If you need to clean the gutters or power wash the outside of the home, you may need a large ladder. This, too, can pose safety concerns.
  • Heat rises, so heating and cooling your two-story home may be an issue. Upstairs will tend to be warmer and downstairs cooler, so you’ll have to adjust your heating and cooling systems accordingly– This can cost you more money.
  • Ceilings are usually lower than those in one-story homes. This makes for a lack of variety from one room to the other, and can also put limitations on additions like skylights. 
  • If not designed properly, noise can be an issue. Think of it as living in an apartment with someone above you– If you are downstairs, you may be able to hear people walking around upstairs.

As you can see, one-story and two-story homes have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages. However, both offer a variety of design options both on the interior and exterior. No matter how big the plot of land is, architects and designers can express their creativity. After all, that is what architecture is all about! People choose to build and buy both styles of these homes frequently, and it largely depends on their lifestyle. We hope you found this article informative and we hope to see you back on the blog soon as we continue to dive into various topics regarding architecture. Perhaps something might spark inspiration for your next project! For more information on architectural design and building, keep up-to-date with the Architecture Plus blog. If you’re ready to sit down with an experienced team of designers and hash out the elements of your next project, reach out to us! We’re eager to hear from you. Until next time, thank you for reading!