Building a single-story or double-storey home: the pros and cons

There are many, many decisions to make when designing a custom home, and one of the most crucial is whether to build a single-storey or double-storey house. It’s important to choose a design layout that will suit both your current and future needs.

Both single and double storey have their pros and cons and there is no right choice; only what’s right for you! It depends largely on your lifestyle, personal preferences, the size (and growth) of your family and of course your budget.

Here are some pros and cons to help you decide whether to choose a single-story or double-storey floor plan design for your home.

The pros of a single-storey home

D360 Single Storey

  • Choosing a single-storey house design makes economical and practical sense if you have a decent sized block of land. Building up is almost always more expensive than building out.
  • A single-story home is also faster to build, saving both time and money and making it a more appealing option to first home buyers and investors.
  • If you have young children, single-story makes it easier to see and hear what they may be getting up to. You won’t have to worry about them falling down the stairs or climbing over second floor railings. It also encourages your family to spend more time together as you won’t be in separate ‘zones’ – upstairs and downstairs.
  • You may not be thinking about it now, but it’s worth considering when designing your custom home how your plans may change in the future, such as a relative coming to live with you. Single storey is an ideal choice if your home needs to cater for older people or someone with a disability, or issues with mobility.
  • It’s much easier to control the climate in a single-storey home so it will cost you less to keep cool in summer and warm and winter.
  • As single-storey houses are usually smaller than double-storey, you’ll save time and money in cleaning and maintenance. It’s also a lot easier (and safer) to keep the external walls and gutters clean on a single-storey home.
  • An added benefit of a single-storey home is it’s easier to move in to (and out of) as there are no stairs to navigate with heavy furniture or countless boxes. If someone else is doing the moving for you, this could be a cost saving as well.

The cons of a single-storey home

  • The biggest downfall of choosing a single-story design over double-story is space. Unless you’re planning to build a very large, sprawling home on acreage, you won’t have as much space as if you build a two storey.
  • If your family grows, you may outgrow your single-storey home, unless you have room on your block to extend.
  • The resale value on your single-story home may be lower, as double-storey homes on average attract a higher price. 
  • As a single-storey home takes up more space on your land, you won’t have as much yard or garden space, or room for that pool or extra shed. This won’t be a problem of course if you have a large block.
  • There might be less privacy in a single-story home as you’ll be eye-level with people as they walk past. This doesn’t bother some, but you might prefer to spend extra on fencing or window dressings to keep the rest of the world out.

The pros of a double-storey home

D360 Double Storey

  • While it will cost you more to build a double-storey home, you don’t need as much land to build it on. Many blocks are getting smaller, especially on estates so a double-storey design will allow you to have ‘more house’ without sacrificing your yard. 
  • Having two storeys allows for more flexibility with your layout and overall design. It’s easier, for example to create large open plan spaces which flow from room to room or to create private areas. You can repurpose the garage space for a family playroom, home office, teenage retreat or gym (or all four) and build a carport or external garage instead.
  • Choosing a double-storey design gives you the option to create a separate living area. Your plan might include a kitchen and bathroom on both levels. This offers more privacy for guests or as children grow and presents a good rental opportunity.
  • If your land has a wonderful view, a double-storey home offers the best way to enjoy it, especially with the addition of large windows and spacious balconies. 
  • Two storeys provide more privacy with bedrooms and living areas located upstairs. This is an important consideration, especially if you plan to build in a new estate where there is often very little space between houses.
  • Your downstairs areas will be cooler in summer, even without air conditioning as warm air rises, while cool air falls. If your upstairs areas are designed with balconies and large windows you will also enjoy cross breezes.

The cons of a double-storey home

  • To build a double-storey can cost 10% to 30% more than a single-storey home of the same size. The added cost comes in the form of safety scaffolding and additional labour while working at heights, as well as the price of building a staircase and handrails and extra storage.
  • Unless your design makes the most of the sun to warm your house and breezes to cool it, you will pay more to regulate the temperature of a double-storey home than a single-story. You may need to invest in larger air-conditioning systems which will be more expensive and mean higher power bills.
  • It’s quite common for double-storey homes to have noise issues. Sounds from the upstairs bedrooms may travel downstairs and if you have small, active children (or heavy-footed adults) your home could be very noisy. The problem can be greatly reduced with the addition of carpet and insulation… both at a considerable cost.
  • Your double-storey home gives you more space, but that also means more space to clean and maintain - both internally and externally. Think about whether you’ll manage to clean those hard-to-reach areas such as windows and gutters or have to pay someone else to do the upkeep.
  • Moving furniture (in or out) is a challenge at the best of times, but made even more so with the addition of a staircase to navigate.
  • Double-storey homes can become difficult as people age or suffer illness or injury. Ageing you can plan for, but you never know when a loss of mobility may strike and make moving around your own home a real problem.

Clever custom home design can take the guesswork out of planning your new home, whether you decide on one, two or more storeys!


Design 360 can custom design the home of your dreams – from scratch. If you prefer, you can bring your existing plans and one of our expert custom home designers will work with you until it’s exactly what you want.

The best part? You can ‘walk through’ your new home before the building even begins!  

Design 360 offers Digital Life Size Plan Walkthroughs. We use the latest technology to project your floor plans onto the floor of our custom-built studio on a 1:1 scale. This means you can walk through your home and know exactly how it will look and feel, right down to the smallest detail. You can even make adjustments and see the changes in real time!

Simply click here to request your no obligation consult today.

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