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One-Story Home or Multi-Story Home – How to Choose Your Design

Updated: Apr 23

How to Choose the Ideal Design for Your Custom Home

Whether you prefer a one-story or multi-story home, we work tirelessly to ensure that the home you settle into is perfect for you and your family.

The first major decision you'll make is whether you want a single story or a multi-story design. From which plot of land you purchase, to the materials used, the framework of your custom home project will depend on what style and layout you land on.

As a locally-based, family-run business, we want your family to be right at home in the house that we design together. To make it easier to choose a single or multi-story home, we’ve created this post that breaks down the basic pros and cons of each house plan style.

What is a One-Story House?

Also known as ranch style, or a rancher, a one-story house is built on one level. It has no stairs and all rooms and living spaces are on the same floor.

Because there is no upper floor, the one-story house may have a larger footprint to accommodate for the number of bedrooms and bathrooms needed. For this reason, we recommend choosing a larger lot size to make sure there will still be plenty of yard space. This will ensure that you will still have room for a pad for your RV, or boat, room for the kids to play and of course, buffer space between your property and neighbouring properties.

Depending on your municipality, there will likely be a minimum square-footage requirement between properties, including rules for how far back your home needs to be from the road.

The Pros of a One-Story House

No longer just for starter homes and downsizers, many families are seeing the benefits of a single-story home these days, choosing a smaller yard to allow their home to have a larger footprint on a single level.

  • Single-story homes can be cheaper to design and engineer. Because there’s only one level, the engineering of a sprawling ranch style home is simpler.

  • No stairs, no problem. One-story homes are a great solution for anyone who doesn’t want to deal with stairs. One-story homes tend to be safer for kids AND they let you age in place without worrying about falls.

  • The whole family lives on one level. If you’re uncomfortable with having your laundry room or children’s rooms or kitchen on a separate level, a single-level layout could be the ideal choice over a two-story house.

  • Maintenance is simpler. Because everything is on one level, you never need to lug a vacuum cleaner or a basket of laundry up and down stairs. Maintaining the exterior of the home is also easier since it’s easier to reach the windows, gutters and more. Having everything on one level makes short work of chores like window washing or painting.

  • Heating and cooling is more efficient. Because one-story houses are all on one level, it’s easier to maintain the internal temperature

  • Easier to evacuate in case of emergency. If the worst happens, like a fire or earthquake, you can evacuate a single-story home with ease. One-story homes have also been found to be the safest structures to be in during an earthquake event.

The Cons of a One-Story House

  • Privacy can be a concern. There can be greater security and privacy issues with a one-story house. Because all of the windows and doors will be right at street level, it’s important to make sure they’re locked whenever you leave the house.

  • Single-story homes aren't ideal for multi-generational residents. Because the whole house is on one level, basement suites aren't possible. Any additional accommodation would need to be on the same level as the main living space.

  • Materials can cost more. Because the footprint of a single-story home is larger than a two-story home, you’re going to need a larger foundation and more roofing materials. You’ll also need longer plumbing and HVAC runs to cover that larger footprint.

  • Bigger Plumbing and HVAC systems needed. Because of the longer runs needed, your water and climate control systems will need to be larger and more powerful to work efficiently across the larger square footage.

What is a Multi-Story House?

A multi-story house is a house that has two or more floors. Most single-family homes are built with two levels and perhaps a basement level. Some can be built with three floors or more, but how tall your home can be will depend on zoning and restrictions. Some modern townhomes are being built with three stories to maximize the lot size while still providing all the square footage needed for multiple bedrooms, ensuites, family rooms and anything else that creates a home with everything the owners need.

The Pros of a Multi-Story House

  • Private spaces. When you have a second floor, you can escape to the other level for a bit of additional privacy and quiet. While the kids play downstairs, you can make dinner on the main level, or better yet – relax in the main bedroom.

  • Higher security. Unlike what’s shown in the movies, there aren’t too many thieves who go out of their way to get into an open second-story window.

  • Better views. Generally, a multi-story house will be able to take advantage of the views better than a single-story home could.

  • More design options. Unlike designing one level, you can really play with the layout and placement of rooms, windows, etc.

The Cons of a Multi-Story House

Multi-story houses are traditionally the choice for a single-family home, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the automatic choice. Many homeowners look forward to no longer having stairs to contend with, particularly if they have small children or if they’re getting on in years.

  • Can cost more to heat and cool. Because the HVAC system needs to heat multiple stories, it can be less efficient.

  • Cleaning and maintaining the exterior can be tougher. Cleaning things like gutters or windows, etc… is a tougher task due to the higher roofline. In some cases, you may need scaffolding.

  • Cleaning and maintaining the interior can be tougher. Lugging a vacuum and mop up and down the stairs can get old fast - unless you simply keep cleaning supplies upstairs and downstairs.

  • Higher risk of accidents and falls. With stairs and heights comes the potential for accidents.

A one-story house or a multiple-story house… whichever you choose, you can rely on the experience and expertise of the White Wolf Homes team of designers and builders. We’ll work with you to create your ideal home, whatever that looks like to you. Backed by our new construction warranty, your White Wolf home will be custom-created to match your vision. Browse our current projects and floorplans for inspiration for your new home, then call (250) 888-8209 to schedule your initial consultation. Let’s Build Your Home Together.

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