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Single Story Ranch Vs Two Story Home

If you are thinking of buying or building a new home, at some point you will have to consider the pros and cons of a single story Vs two story home. There are advantages to both styles of home so it’s important to know which style would work best for your family and lifestyle.

Many people believe that two story homes are more economical because they require less foundation and roof structure. The rooms on the first floor don’t require a roof and the rooms on the second floor don’t require a foundation. There is also some savings on plumbing and electrical wiring because of closer proximity of all the rooms in the house. However, two story homes generally require a second HVAC system for heating and cooling the second floor as well as stairs which can be expensive and eat up square footage inside the home.

As it turns out the difference in cost of a single story ranch Vs two story home is not really enough to make a decision based solely on cost. So what are the important differences that might affect your family?

Single Story Home

  • Safer for families with young children and better for older, mobility challenged people and/or pets. Allows for ‘aging in place’.
  • More options for different ceiling heights and skylights.
  • Save up to 100 sq. ft. with no stairs.
  • No noise from stairs and second story traffic.
  • Fewer bathrooms needed.
  • Can combine mud room with laundry room.
  • Easier to access and clean gutters, roof and outside walls.
  • Easier to evacuate in case of fire.
  • Less expensive to add on to the structure of the home.
  • Easier to resell. More popular with home buyers.

Two Story Home

  • Require less foundation, roof, plumbing and wiring which can lower cost per sq. ft.
  • Smaller footprint means more lot and floor plan options as well as usable yard space.
  • More energy efficient, however two HVAC systems may be required.
  • More separation between rooms up/down. Better for families with teens.
  • Smaller roof to maintain.
  • More expansive views from second floor.
  • Safe to leave second story windows open.

Single story homes are safer for families with young children and more practical for those with mobility issues that might make it difficult or impossible to climb stairs. If you are buying or building a ‘forever’ home, sometimes referred to as aging in place, a single story home is usually the best option.

Two story homes, especially those with a downstairs master bedroom, may be more ideal for those with teenagers living at home. There is more separation between the upstairs bedrooms and bonus rooms and the downstairs living space. The view from the second floor may be more appealing and it’s safer to leave a second floor window open, especially at night.

There are many other factors involved such as accessing exterior siding, gutters and roofing for cleaning and repair, overall footprint and yard space as well as cost to add on to the home later should the need arise. Hopefully, this article will help you when it comes to deciding the best option for your family between a single story ranch Vs two story home.

Floor Plans and Available Homes

McKee Homes offers a great selection of single story, two story and three story floor plans. Many of our single story floor plans have an option for a second floor guest suite which is the best of both worlds. View our single story homes floor plans. If you are more interested in two story home floor plans, please visit our main floor plan page.

For move-in ready homes, please visit our advanced search page and select the number of stories you prefer in the search form to see a list all available homes in that style.


McKee Homes, North Carolina’s #1 Choice for New Homes

McKee Homes has highly skilled team members dedicated to creating the best home building and buying experience possible in Eastern North Carolina. Areas we are building in include: Fayetteville, Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen, Raleigh and Wilmington NC. Some of our new home resources we can provide you include: New Home Financing, Specially Adapted Housing, Buyer Incentives and more.

Edited and posted by

McKee Homes online marketing manager

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10 thoughts on “Single Story Ranch Vs Two Story Home

  1. I thought it was interesting that you said two story homes are more energy efficient. My husband and I are looking for a home to buy and have been trying to decide what type of house would work best for us. We’re all about being more energy efficient and have been trying make our current house better in this regard. We’ll try to focus more on two story homes to go with this trend in our lives.

  2. Hi John, thanks for helping me understand the difference between the two. If you’re to ask me, I prefer a single-family home wherein I can find my privacy. And yes, it’ll be safer for my kids!

  3. Umm, not sure where you got that a two-story home is MORE energy efficient? It’s definitely much less energy efficient! There’s not even a comparison. Heat rises, and even with two systems you’re still going to have to use a lot more energy then (duh, two systems versus one). That’s actually the main reason I would build a single story home, also because of greater surface space on the roof for solar panels.

    • John, there are many different types of homes, and in smaller homes it may be more efficient to go with a single-story home over a multi-story home. While we build single-story homes that are under 2,000 sq. ft., this article is directed at more typical new homes in the 2,500-3,500 sq. ft. range which are heated and cooled with electricity. All other things being equal, medium-to-large two-story homes are typically more energy efficient compared to single-story homes of the same square footage because less foundation and roof area is exposed to the outdoor elements. In addition, plumbing pipes usually have a much shorter distance to travel throughout the home, which can also cut down on energy costs. Most of the heat in winter is lost through the upper third of the exterior walls and the ceiling/attic. A 2,800 sq. ft. two-story home has half the roof surface as the same size house built as a single-story home. While the single-story home can be heated and cooled with a single unit, it will have to be sized larger to handle the entire 2,800 sq. ft. and will most likely run longer and more often than the same size two-story home with two HVAC units. These units can be smaller and run less often. They can also be controlled separately to balance out the inside temperature on both levels.

  4. I like how you compared a single story ranch versus a two-story home, as well as their advantages to each other. Ever since I was a teenager, I always wanted to live in a single story home where everything I need is already in a spacious floor and divided into different sections. Besides the fact that it is less costly, I like the idea that I can have my grandparents come and spend the night with me, without worrying to having them come up and down the stairs each time. I believe that no matter how simple the place can be can still look presentable and spacious, with the help of an expert in custom designed house plans. I will certainly make a note of this in my future plans of having my own home.

  5. Of the benefits of owning a ranch home that you mentioned, what I liked the most was the fact that fewer bathrooms needed, easier to clean the gutters, and easier to evacuate during a fire. I think those reasons are enough for me to consider buying a ranch home. Thank you for sharing this. My sister has been asking me to buy our family a new home. I think it’s a cool idea to choose a ranch home.

  6. I guess what I like the most is when you mentioned that single-story houses are safe for children and pets, not to mention a better choice for mobility challenged people. I have younger siblings and a grandmother living with us, so it’s safe to say that single-story is a better option. Thanks for the ideas. I’ll talk to my parents about looking for single-story ranch homes as soon as we can.

  7. It’s good to know that two story homes are more ideal for teenagers. My husband and I want are thinking to adopt. The kids that we’re interested are a bit older, and we’d love to buy a house with them in mind.

  8. I like that you pointed out that you can get more yard space with a two story home. It does seem like it would be best to have a professional help you figure out what type of home you should get. I would want to have as large as yard as possible.

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