One Story vs Two Story Homes


Here in Fountain Hills, single-level homes are often desired by the large population of retirees and snowbirds. However, there are numerous reasons why prospective home buyers may have a personal preference for either single-story or two-story homes. There are benefits and drawbacks to each, so it’s important to consider all sides. 

The Footprint of a One-Story is Larger

When you have a 3,000 sq ft,  two-story home,  the square footage to accommodate all the rooms is spread between two levels. However, with a 3,000 sq ft single-story home, all the square footage is on one level.

Why is this important?

Well, the foundation footprint of your home is going to be much larger. This increases the construction costs (because of the cost of excavation and the concrete foundation), and it also takes up more room on the lot. So you may be left with less yard. 

Also, due to zoning and building codes, many one story homes are restricted in size by the size of the lot, while a larger two-story home could occupy the same footprint. 

If you prefer a larger yard, or want plenty of space for a pool and outdoor kitchen, then you may pay a premium for a single-story home on a larger lot.

The Speed of Sound

Unless soundproofing was installed at the time the home was built, there is a high likelihood that sound will carry more between floors than it will across the span of a single-story home. For instance, blaring an action movie downstairs could keep a light sleeper awake upstairs. By contrast, in a single-level home, with the bedrooms at the opposite end of the home, there may not be an issue with late night binge watching.

Egress and Evacuation

Thankfully, the Sonoran desert area is not typically prone to the extreme weather like tornadoes and hurricanes that plague the Midwest and coastal areas, and we don’t have frequent earthquakes or floods. 

However, in the discussion of two-story vs one-story homes, it is important to point out that one-story homes are easier to evacuate quickly, in the case of a natural event or a house fire. In a two-story or multi-story structure, it is easier for the upper floors to collapse in on each other, trapping occupants. Window egress from anywhere on the first floor is also much easier, should the main exits become blocked.

Stepping Into Danger

While people may love the extra space and layout options afforded by multi-story structures, what they don’t love are the stairs. This love-hate relationship is not confined to the senior members of our Fountain Hills community.

Now, for obvious reasons, as we age the appeal of two-story structures diminishes quickly, as navigating stairs become more difficult for those experiencing hip or knee pain. Stairs also pose an accessibility issue to anyone confined to a wheelchair, even temporarily. It becomes even more difficult if you have to navigate those stairs while also carrying laundry, groceries, or other loads.

Stairs also pose a danger to young children, often necessitating the installation of gates and barriers to prevent falls as children are learning to walk and climb. Carrying children up and down stairs also pose some risks as well.

If you still prefer a two-story home, then you may want to consider locating the laundry room on the 2nd floor, where most of the laundry is collected, to avoid navigating stairs while carrying cumbersome laundry baskets. You may also want to keep a 2nd vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies on the upper floor. 

Privacy Concerns

It’s happened to everyone at some point. You exit the shower to realize that the blinds are still open in your bedroom, and the resulting scramble to maintain modesty while getting the windows covered. 

If you are on the 2nd floor, you can relax (a bit) because your privacy has added protection when your windows are uncovered. However, in a one-story home, you may be giving the neighbors and passers-by a eyeful.

Utility Costs

Heating and cooling a one-story structure may be less expensive and more cost efficient than a two story structure. Much of this depends on the overall design of the home, but, in general, cooled air is heavier and will settle on the first floor, requiring more energy to make the second level feel comfortable. The opposite is true when you heat your home, because warm air rises. The 2nd floor will be nice and cozy, but more energy is required to keep the first level warm. 

However, a very large, sprawling one-level home may end up costing more to maintain a comfortable climate than a home with a smaller footprint. It all depends on the overall design. 

Think About the Resale

Single level homes are definitely popular in Fountain Hills and are much sought after by buyers in multiple demographic categories (not just aging Baby Boomers). They tend to go quickly.

That said, make smart choices when considering a one-story vs a two-story home. If you have the only single story home surrounded by two-story homes, or if you have the only two-story home surrounded by single-story homes, then you may encounter resale issues in the future.

Single-story homes surrounded by two-story homes may also have obstructed views – aren’t desert mountain views the one of the reasons you live in Fountain Hills in the first place?

Ultimately, personal preference will win out on the decision between one and two story homes. Just weigh the advantages and disadvantages, and make an informed decision. Whether you are buying or selling in Fountain Hills, Susan Pellegrini and Karen DeGeorge are ready to put their care and expertise to work for you. Buying or selling, our first-class service comes with a wealth of experience and eye for detail, ready to focus on youVisit our website to learn more and contact us or give us a call at (480)- 315-1575, we’re here for you.