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Single or double storey house? Please share your experiences!

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#1 Blue Shoe

Posted 22 January 2017 - 04:54 PM

Perennial lurker here looking to mine EB's collective wisdom!

DH and I bought our 'five year' house when we got married, eight years ago. We have two kids currently and will hopefully have at least one more, and the house is rapidly becoming too small. Think tiny bedrooms, cramped isolated kitchen, only one living space, zero built-in storage. We've been tossing up various options for a while - move, extend or KDR - and one thing I've been pondering most recently is whether we would change to a two storey house, or stick with single storey. I've only ever lived in a single level house and our current house in particular is so small, that you can get from one place to another in a matter of steps, which is very handy in terms of putting things away, etc!

We have a decent sized (for suburbia!) block so could extend out a bit in one or more directions, or KDR and fit in a reasonably spacious single storey, and still have a decent yard. But we do use our current outdoor spaces A LOT, and I'd also want to put in a pool, in which case a house with a smaller footprint would give us more options.

So, to cut to the chase - What are your experiences with living in a single vs double storey house? Pros and cons of each? Do you get sick of trudging up and down stairs all day long? Does it change how your family interacts (teens hiding in bedrooms far away, etc)?

TIA :)

#2 Riotproof

Posted 22 January 2017 - 05:01 PM

I live in a two storey townhouse, and I wouldn't recommend it if you've got young kids. Just because it's annoying, and you do spend so much time going between floors, plus when they are in separation anxiety mode, they seem to think I am going somewhere else, even though it's just upstairs. Also, vacuuming stairs is a huge pita. And the stair gates while they are babies. And for some reason, visiting children who don't have stairs in their home spend their visits trying to turn the stairs into some kind of theme park ride.

I do make my stair climb target in my Garmin watch pretty easily though.

Edited by Riotproof, 22 January 2017 - 05:02 PM.

#3 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 22 January 2017 - 05:40 PM

We built a single storey house and then moved to a double storey house, a renovated older house, just the kids rooms and a bathroom are upstairs. Both have positives and negatives.

Single storey:
No stairs to climb, easy to put stuff away, check on kids at night time etc
Easier to heat and cool.
Only 2 toilets to clean, main bath and ensuite.
Safer for kids, they can walk around without falling down stairs
You lose a lot of backyard space (that is, unless you build a 40 square 2 storey house then your yard gets eaten up anyway)
Noise travels to the bedrooms.
Open doors easily reveal mess to visitors

Double storey
Kids and their bedroom mess are removed from view
It's quiet upstairs so the kids can sleep while we have a party downstairs or while the washing machine is going
Much more backyard space
Having to go up and down stairs many times a day with a dodgy hip and back while carrying a 1 year old
Hard to heat and cool, all the heat tends to go upstairs
You have an extra toilet or bathroom to clean usually because you need a downstairs toilet for guests.
Dangerous stairs if you have toddlers

Personally I much prefer having the 2 storey house, the kids have nice quiet rooms and our backyard is twice the size it would otherwise be and outdoor space is very important to me (note this is because our house is under 30 squares,the typical size of a single storey house, you lose this benefit when building a 40 square or more double storey house)

#4 seayork2002

Posted 22 January 2017 - 05:48 PM

I like double story terraces as i love the bedrooms upstairs and living downstairs

I would prefer an additional toilet downstairs though

Edited by seayork2002, 22 January 2017 - 05:49 PM.

#5 2littledarlings

Posted 22 January 2017 - 06:07 PM

Love living in a 2 storey and could never go back to a single.

Love how our bedrooms are all upstairs together, much closer than our previous single storey, which had the master at the front and the kids rooms at the back.

Love that it is a much smaller footprint on our block

Love that guests are away from the bedroom area, it's quiet for the kids and doesn't need to be kept super tidy.

I like the incidental exercise of walking up and down the stairs all day :)

Our stairs are open back timber, so a quick sweep and then I vac the dirt that falls down to the ground floor, if you know what I mean.

We have a powder room with a shower downstairs, so that solves the toilet problem and we have a guest room downstairs. So when we have sleep over visitors they do not need to come upstairs at all.

#6 MerryMadrigalMadge

Posted 22 January 2017 - 06:13 PM

Grew up in a double storey house - two beds up, master and 2 more down. Upstairs bedrooms were highly prized, the privacy, the removal from all the hustle downstairs, could very conveniently ignore the parents, could sneak out one upstairs window to the oak tree and away, etc...

I think my parents went hoarse a few times screaming our names up the stairs, so would recommend an intercom!!

Edited by MarigoldMadge, 22 January 2017 - 06:18 PM.

#7 annodam

Posted 22 January 2017 - 06:15 PM

Ours is split level due to a sloping block.
Our double garage & study (which has been transformed to a gymnasium) are downstairs & everything else is upstairs.

Not an issue here.

I grew up in a single storey but I don't really have a preference either way.

#8 Amica

Posted 22 January 2017 - 06:18 PM

Dh and I have lived in different 2 story houses these last 17 years. When we were looking around for the one we are in now, we both agreed that anything with steps wass OUT.

We are now in a single story house and I will never go back to steps in my entire life, ever! I do not miss traipsing rubbish, laundry, groceries, kids, the vacuum cleaner, furniture and more up and down steps AT ALL.

#9 EmmDasher

Posted 22 January 2017 - 06:27 PM

We have two levels and 2 young kids. I wouldn't have it any other way. All our bedrooms are upstairs and living space/kitchen/dining is downstairs.

Things I love:
- only have to clean half the house for guests
- kids can sleep undisturbed in bedrooms
- great visibility of backyard from all living spaces

I really don't find the stairs an issue. During the day we are downstairs most of the time. I don't traipse up and down that much. I tend to carry a huge load of things upstairs at once (in a basket).

Our eldest acclimated to stairs very fast too. She's been safely going up and down stairs since she was about 10months old. We have stair gates but I've never really used them.

Our stairs are carpeted. Cleaning them is a complete PITA but we have a cleaner and I haven't had to do it for about 2 years 😬

#10 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 22 January 2017 - 06:33 PM

My house is similar to 2LD in that we have our bedrooms and family bath upstairs and living areas, guest room and bath/laundry downstairs.  

I like the separation.   If DS has a friend over they play in his room and it's so quiet downstairs.  

If DS stays at home as an adult no doubt he will take over the downstairs bedroom/bathroom.  

One configuration that turns me off is the parents retreat upstairs and young kids rooms downstairs.

#11 Renovators delight

Posted 22 January 2017 - 06:43 PM

Loathe 2 storey house. Have lived in one as a child and hated it, swore never to again etc.

Bought this 2 storey house 7 years ago. Awful having infants and a 2 storey house. Worse having toddlers and infants. Constantly dragging up and down stairs for nappies, toilets, sleep, teeth, cuddles, ugh.

Constant fear of injury. My mum busted her knee falling down their stairs, was out of action for months. My sister broke her ankle falling down their stairs, was out of action for months.

Stairs suck.

#12 Gossipgirl22

Posted 22 January 2017 - 06:54 PM

I loved the time we rented a two storey townhouse. The privacy of upstairs, cooler at night as we could keep windows open, kids mess out of the way, etc.
But I'm in healthcare, and the amount of people I visit in two storey homes who are either elderly, injured at work, bad knees, or end up with a disability, have a difficult time managing stairs. They often end up having to make the lounge room their bedroom, temporarily or permanently. So for me, I would never buy two storey, in case I'm in that boat one day. Especially if you don't have plans of moving.
Sorry, I'm a bit of a pessimist in that regard, as often homes are turned upside down for those reasons.

#13 Jingleflea

Posted 22 January 2017 - 06:56 PM

I would never live in a 2 story due to bad knees which make going up and down stairs a pain, literally.

Plus if you have one story and anything happens to a family member( accident, broken leg, whatever) which means mobility is an issue, one floor is so much easier to get around. You never know what the future will bring in the possible 20 or 50 years you'll be in the house for.

One story means no 'thud thud' noise when people move around above you. My sister lives in a  2 story town house, it's annoying hearing people thudding up and down the stairs and on the top floor.

#14 Amica

Posted 22 January 2017 - 07:05 PM

So true pp's. I broke my foot a few years ago in 4 places and had a cast up to my knee and on crutches. I was completely unable to go up and down stairs and look after my then 9 month old properly. He had to go into emergency childcare full time. Before I broke my foot, he had never been to childcare. It was 100% because of stairs. I probably could have managed otherwise.

#15 Zesty

Posted 22 January 2017 - 07:07 PM

We've got a 2 storey. It's the best of both worlds. Kids have their rooms upstairs and a lounge area. Our master bedroom and the rest of the house (kitchen/laundry/lounge room etc) are downstairs.

Kids are a little older, but are responsible for the cleaning etc of upstairs bathroom, toilet, bedrooms and lounge. I rarely have to go up there, other than to just talk to the kids.

As for yelling... I have got into the habit of texting when I need them downstairs.

#16 littlemen

Posted 22 January 2017 - 07:08 PM

I have lived in both and prefer single storey for sure. We extended our house outwards. We have a large yard though so the backyard size wasn't impacted to much.

We are yet to install a sliding door (in the design) that 'closes' off the sleeping area from the open plan living. So far this hasn't been a problem. Our previous house had a sliding door which had the same purpose. It was great.

Love no internal stairs. This was a pita growing up. To ensure privacy in a single storey, bedroom doors can always be closed.

We have three toilets, ensuite, main and laundry. This has been very handy with 3 kids, who at times have all needed to go at the same time :yes:

Easy to cool the house down in the summer due to cross ventilation and in winter we don't worry about heat 'escaping' upstairs.

As we age we will not have to worry about potentially moving due to difficulty going up & down stairs.

Maybe ask your relatives, neighbours and friends as well.

#17 MrsLexiK

Posted 22 January 2017 - 07:39 PM

I think it depends on what you plan on doing. I grew up in a split level with a couple of stairs it's zoned to before the stairs is all bedrooms and bathrooms and formal dinning and living. After the stairs kitchen, meals, living laundry study etc. my dad had a two story house and my grandmother had a 3 story and then a 2 story. The 3 story was actually set up better because of the slopping block for when she aged. You entered on the middle floor 2 bedrooms, bathroom and toilet, living, dinning and kitchen, easily could have made that went out to the upper back yard if you walked around the side you got to the bottom floor which was where my dad lived for years and then my uncle when he moved back, top level was master area with 80's style bar, dinning room and lounge. Her house she moved from due to the stairs was traditional living on bottom floor and bedrooms on top floor. My dads 2 story was an original single story that they built up and added attic space and master retreat and master bedroom. Worked well for us, we were 12-16 though, also means if my step mum does have a fall or can't get up the stairs the original master can still be used.
If you get a view it makes sense to me to put living upstairs and rooms downstairs, if you don't get a view I would think about upstairs for all of us or upstairs for some ensuring there was still 1-2 bedrooms downstairs. If we stay here that is what we would do. Keep our master and what is currently DS2's room, then do 3 rooms, bathroom, toilet, and retreat area (and a laundry shoot!). If we were too sell we would dress it with the master, either a study or nursery in the other down stairs room and then upstairs we would do 2 kids bedrooms and another "master"

#18 Nickers numbat

Posted 22 January 2017 - 07:50 PM

We've lived in three two story houses and love them. I think I'd struggle going back to single story. Each house has been different but essentially I love the separation and the fact that everything is close but apart.

Our current configuration (sloping block) is garage, main bedroom and study downstairs with main living plus three bedrooms upstairs. I find it easy to get around. We spend most of our time upstairs during the door but it's easy to go downstairs. Much closer than the long corridors of single story houses of my childhood. And I love the space we have in our large backyard.

#19 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 22 January 2017 - 08:01 PM

As PP have said, if your going to build 2 storey make sure you have one or two bedrooms downstairs in case of injury or old age etc.

Our house has the main bedroom plus a second bedroom on the first floor as well as a full bathroom (no bath though) so if something bad happened we could potentially shift the kids downstairs with us and I'd never have to go upstairs really except to maybe access our study or storage. It could work short term until the kids are older.

#20 Sunshine streaming

Posted 22 January 2017 - 08:11 PM

I have always lived in single story and am currently renting a double story. I love it. The sense of space is great, the need to only clean half the house is even better. My brother has a baby and double story house and they just have stub downstair with nappy change things in it and that all. So me to I would keep your outdoor space, a pool is a great way to live with a growing family and the exercise you get walking up the stairs is great too.

#21 Beancat

Posted 22 January 2017 - 08:19 PM

We have recently sold our 5 year house , which we also stayed in for 8 years, for all the reasons you describe.

We've bought a bigger block (by 30%) and are building a 2 story house. Our current house is single.

To overcome some of the cons mentioned by PPS we are converting the front lounge room to a guest room. It will have an ensuite that is also a two way opening into the hall for guests to use. We will use it as a downstairs toy room while the kids are young. We are installing double doors to close it off. It will have a sofa bed so can still be used by guests or is someone breaks their leg etc. we decided on two way bathroom as I wanted a downstairs shower ( for future pool and so kids can shower themselves within earshot while still young), and I didn't want it separate to a powder room as I'd then be cleaning 4 toilets.

#22 Ally'smum

Posted 22 January 2017 - 08:52 PM

I have lived in both, much prefer single level.
One of the reasons we went for single is that we intend to be in our house for a long time, and we didn't want the stairs to be an issue for ageing grandparents. Then DH had an accident and was not very mobile for awhile - single level made it a lot easier.

Lol to the PP saying you need an intercom with kids upstairs, especially if they are teenagers!

#23 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 23 January 2017 - 10:23 AM

We are building atm and have gone for a single storey home.  All the bedrooms along the southern side of the house, kids bedrooms separated for our bedroom by the bathroom and ensuite locations.  We are fortunate that we have a very large block (>1500sqm) so we can go for a single story house and still have a large backyard.

If we had built a 2 story (and we did consider that), we would have put all living/communal areas downstairs, with bedrooms upstairs.  But we would have also included a large bedroom with ensuite downstairs as well.  Our home is intended to do us into our dotage, so if we were going to build a 2-story house, it would have been designed to allow us to move downstairs to a 'single storey home' when/if DH or I couldn't cope with stairs.

OP, given that you plan to have a pool etc, I would recommend a 2 storey home but include a bedroom with ensuite downstairs, even if it is the "guest room" for now.  Although I know a few people who have the parents rooms downstairs already, all the kids bedrooms upstairs.

 Ally, on 22 January 2017 - 08:52 PM, said:

I have lived in both, much prefer single level.
One of the reasons we went for single is that we intend to be in our house for a long time, and we didn't want the stairs to be an issue for ageing grandparents. Then DH had an accident and was not very mobile for awhile - single level made it a lot easier.
This is part of the reason why we have gone for larger-than-standard hallways (1200mm rather than 900-1000mm) and wider doorways (870 & 920 mm rather than 770 or 820mm) - helps with mobility/access issues.

#24 Blue Shoe

Posted 23 January 2017 - 11:19 AM

Some great advice here, thanks! I had considered the inconvenience of stairs but not really thought about the 'danger' of them... I'm the sort of person who walks into doorways instead of through them, so stacking it down the stairs seems like something I would do! Food for thought. :)

It sounds like the two storey design is especially useful once kids are a bit older, but possibly tricky with little ones especially if they're clingy. So lots to consider, I guess!

#25 Blue Shoe

Posted 23 January 2017 - 11:20 AM

Oh, and the suggestion of making sure a two storey house has a (potential, at least) downstairs master and ensuite is really, really good. Will definitely keep that in mind!!!

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