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Building Up Verses Building Out

Most often, new homeowners know what type of house they want to build. They have determined the size or at least have a square footage range in mind. They also have a pretty good idea of the architectural style they prefer: Cape Cod, Colonial, Contemporary, Southern, Traditional, Victorian, etc. Typically, new homebuilders know if they prefer a ranch house or two-story house. However, before you make a final decision on the number of levels you would like in your new house, consider these ideas about "building up" and "building out."

Building Up

Choosing to build a two-story house plan has many valuable benefits when it comes to cost and functionality. First, consider cost. By stacking living space, you can add considerable square footage to your home without adding additional costs for roofing and foundation materials. The first level will not require roofing materials and the second level will not require foundation materials. You can nearly double your living space while cutting costs on materials. (See Saving on Your Building Budget.)

The two-story house plan option also can save you money when choosing a lot. (See Selecting a Home Site.) In general, a two-story home requires less building space, often fitting on a narrow lot, as compared to a rambling ranch house of the same square footage that will require a much wider lot. With a single story, the more living space you need, the larger the lot you will need, lending to a more expensive price tag for your property. Choosing to build a two-story house will help with budget savings when considering the piece of property you will need.

Now, think about the functionality benefits of a two-story house. If you prefer all bedrooms to be on the second level, it provides exceptional privacy for the sleeping quarters as they are separated from the living areas where many of the daily activities occur. Maybe your prefer a master bedroom on the first floor with secondary bedrooms on the upper level. This secludes the master bedroom. Also, an upper level can be beneficial providing space for a game room, hobby room, loft, child's playroom, second floor laundry area or unfinished storage. Consider your home's appearance. Maybe you like the elegance of a two-story foyer or great room. Building a two-story house will create the option for volume ceilings or even a second floor balcony overlooking the great room.

If you choose to build a two-story house, think about who will be using the stairs daily. Are you and others capable and energetic enough to climb the stairs several times a day? Do you have small children who will be using the stairs? Remember to think about child safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. (See Home Safety Indoors and Out.) Do you have an elderly or physically handicapped person living with you or will you in the future? If none of these topics are a concern for you, just think about the health benefits you will receive from taking the stairs frequently!

Building Out

Now that you have a better understanding of "building up," take a little time to consider "building out." There are many benefits to building a single story or ranch house when considering efficiency and functionality. While it may be more expensive to build a ranch home instead of a two-story of similar square footage, comfort and peace of mind may be well worth spending the extra money. Think about your daily activities. Most homeowners spend plenty of time cleaning, doing laundry and checking on their children. It may be more efficient in your eyes to build a single story home. If you are working in your home office, you can easily call to the kids in the next room to check on them as you continue to type at the computer, instead of putting your work aside for a few minutes and taking a trip upstairs to see what the kids are up to. In a similar manner, do you want to haul the vacuum up the stairs to vacuum the bedrooms? Do you want to be totally out of range of the kitchen, putting folded laundry away, while dinner is cooking? In some cases, living in a ranch home will make multi-tasking and daily chores quite simple and offer efficiency.

If you or someone living with you has physical limitations, a one-story house may be the best choice for you. Eliminating steps whenever possible allows these people to live more independently. It is a simple convenience with far-reaching benefits for them.

Single story homes allow for a greater variety of ceiling heights and designs. Since there is not an upper level with a floor system that needs to be accommodated, it is easier to build a design with more than just flat ceilings. Vaulted, tray, barrel, cathedral and Pullman ceilings add character, drama and elegance to any room. Skylights in the living areas are also more easily accommodated in a ranch home. While additional costs are involved to finish these types of features, the appearance they provide may be well worth it to you. Volume ceilings create a more open and spacious feel, making rooms appear larger than they actually are.

There are several advantages to building either a two-story house or a ranch house. Only you will be able to determine which one will be right for you and your family.

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