If you enjoy having everything you need in your home on a single floor, then a one-story home is ideal. One-story houses are also very functional if you have mobility issues or small children since you won’t need to climb stairs to access the upper level.
You might think that one-story houses, bungalows, ranch houses and single-level homes are all different names for the same type of house. While all these types of homes typically have all public and private rooms on the same floor, unique differences prevent them from being lumped into the same category.
The distinction comes in the words “story” and “level,” which are sometimes — but not always — interchangeable. A story generally refers to any living space that is above ground and covered by a roof. That means an underground basement or a rooftop terrace wouldn’t be considered stories. However, they could be considered levels of a house.
A one-story house is a floor plan that spreads over a single story and usually has no basement. Some one-story houses can be bungalows, but sometimes bungalows tend to have a half-floor, which disqualifies them from being one-story houses.
The ranch-style one-story home is the most popular option, and it differs from a bungalow by having all private rooms — like bedrooms, bathrooms and offices — at one end of the house, while all the public rooms — like the kitchen and living room — are at the other end. This ensures privacy for the home’s residents.
When building a home using house plans, you have the option to build a one-story house in a range of architectural styles. Ranch-style homes tend to be the most popular, but it doesn’t mean you’re restricted to that style alone.
The practicality that results from using single-level house plans is the biggest benefit of this design. The floor plans are customizable, and, depending on the plot of land you have, the house can range from being a few hundred square feet to several thousand square feet.
Here are five more benefits of living in a one-story house.
With everything sitting on a single level, you’ll likely find it much easier to maintain your home, both inside and out. A big part of that is because of the ease with which you can navigate the home.
Not having stairs means you don’t need to carry the vacuum cleaner or loads of laundry up and down several flights, making cleaning and everyday household chores simpler to accomplish.
Exterior maintenance can be just as easy since there’s only one level. Depending on the height of your ceilings and roof, chores like cleaning the windows, painting the house or even putting up holiday decorations can be easier and safer.
You might also end up saving on your power bill since it can be less expensive to heat and cool a single story rather than multiple. This is especially pertinent for homes in colder climates, which require adequate heating. Since hot air travels upward, the second floor is often a comfortable temperature in multi-story homes while the lower levels are colder. In a one-story home, the temperature is more evenly distributed, which means you don’t need to use additional heat methods to remain comfortable.
Single-story homes are some of the easiest to design and build, simply because they sit on one level. This allows for a floor plan that can range from spacious open-concept to a traditional house plan with rooms separated by walls.
You can also plan a building with an in-law suite above the attached garage or even build to leave open the option to include a basement at a later date. Labor costs and the cost of materials tend to be less expensive for one-story houses as well since they’re easier to build than multi-story houses.
On top of being easier to design and build, one-story houses also have more flexibility in certain design features. Being on a single level means you can play with ceiling height throughout the house instead of picking and choosing which rooms should have high ceilings. You also get to make the most of the square footage and don’t lose any of it to stairways.
Plus, when it comes time to renovate, it’s usually easier to do so on a one-story house than a multi-story house for a lot of the same reasons it’s easier to build a one-story house. With a simple and efficient design and the roofs likely much lower than in a multi-story home, it can be much easier and less expensive to remodel or expand a one-story home.
So many older people opt to age in place in one-story homes because they don’t have to worry about accessibility in their own homes. With everything on a single story, you reduce the chances of trips and falls with stairs. Aging in place and with dignity becomes easier, especially for those who live with increasing mobility issues as they age.
But it’s not just safer for older people. Anyone with mobility concerns — including young children who are still learning to maneuver their bodies, people living with temporary injuries that impact their movement or those with permanent disabilities — will find it easier to navigate a single level.
Related to being safer to navigate than multi-story homes, one-story houses can also be better in case of an emergency. For instance, since all the exits are on the ground floor, you can get out easier. Even if the doorways are blocked, for instance, with only a ground-level living space, you can climb out of windows easily and more safely, and often without accessories, like ladders.
If you love the idea of an enclosed porch or a sunroom, a one-level home provides an ideal floor plan to accommodate. It’s much easier to expand your back deck or porch into an additional living or entertaining space. And if you’re a fan of outdoor living, you can easily and seamlessly join the outdoor world to your indoor one much more easily in a one-story house than in a multi-story house.
One-story houses also have the incomparable benefit of a more peaceful lifestyle. With only a single floor of living space, you don’t have to worry about noisy footsteps or excess noise above you — or disturbing those below you if you happen to be on the upper level.
We’ve already mentioned that the ranch architectural style is the most popular option for one-story houses, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t dozens more from which you can choose.
Here are some of the other common architectural styles for one-story homes:
The possibilities for your one-story home really are endless, but here are three examples of one-story house plans to help give you an idea of what you can accomplish.
This three-bedroom house comes equipped with two bathrooms, an open-concept living area as well as an attached garage. With a living space spanning 1,398 square feet, this simple and functional house is bookended by porches, which can increase the home’s overall entertaining and living spaces.
You have the option to have this house built on a slab or concrete foundation. You can also build your house with a crawlspace, which means you can potentially add a basement later on if you need it.
The two-car garage is linked to the home via the kitchen, and the main suite enjoys a space on one end of the house, away from the remaining bedrooms, ensuring privacy for all.
Similar in layout to the traditional-style house plan, this Southern-style house includes a split bedroom layout to ensure the utmost privacy. The rooms are divided by an open-concept living, dining and kitchen area, with the kitchen separated from the living room by a snack bar.
An attached garage can comfortably fit up to two vehicles, and the house recalls Southern living with its large, covered porches — one at the front with the entrance and the other at the rear through the dining area.
The exterior of the house is quintessential Southern style, with large columns standing proudly across the front.
A perfect mix of a country-style house and a ranch-style home, this three-bedroom home features two bathrooms, an open-concept living area and a spacious rear deck.
The front entrance is decorated with a covered porch and the gabled roof and symmetrical windows make this quaint little home perfect for anyone who loves to have a bit of country no matter where they are.
If you’re thinking of building your home using prefabricated house plans, it’s important to make sure you’ve done your research. This includes making sure you follow local building codes and ensure you’ve secured all the necessary permits as well.
Beyond that, you may have more generalized questions, so here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about one-story houses.
A one-story house can be as big or small as you want it to be. On average, homes in the United States are approximately 2,300 square feet. For some people, that is too much house, while for others it’s not enough. For a one-story house, you’re likely going to see smaller square footage, especially in urban areas, where plots are much smaller.
Depending on how many people live in your household, you may want a larger home to ensure everyone has their own space. However, if your household is small, such as if you’re an empty-nester, you may want to downsize and build a house that doesn’t have any excess space.
The cost of building a house will vary and will depend on several factors, such as who will be occupying the house, what materials will be used to build the house and what — if any — customizations you’ll need.
Generally, foundation and roofing are the most costly parts of building a house, so building up is often less expensive than building across.
However, your decision shouldn’t be based solely on cost. It’s best to consider other important factors — like the overall comfort of everyone in the household, the benefits of a one-story house for children and the design freedom that a one-story house plan affords. Though the cost is an important component of building a house, it shouldn’t be the deciding factor.
The short answer to whether you can add in a basement after construction is yes. The longer answer is that it may depend on the foundation of your home, how much of the basement you want to be below the ground and how much money you’re willing to spend.
Generally, you have the option to dig through the concrete slab to create a basement or you can raise the house on braces and dig under it, then replace the house on top of the newly dug basement. Digging through concrete will inevitably be a little more expensive because of the extra labor necessary. If you have a crawlspace, it can help make the job a bit easier since it’s an entryway to the job.
There are several reasons why ranch-style homes are such a popular design for one-story houses. The basic answer comes down to the simplicity of ranch houses — they are easy to build and encourage customization. They also emphasize a modern, casual lifestyle that is directed toward spending quality time with the family.
They’re also fairly inexpensive to build when compared to other home styles. The popularity of ranch-style houses significantly increased after World War II, when returning soldiers and their young families moved into new, suburban housing developments. The open-concept interior layout encouraged quality family time.
Today, these homes continue to be popular for many of the same reasons. Their simple designs, open floor plans and freedom to customize as needed make them great starter homes, family homes or homes in which to age in place.
When building your dream house, save yourself some time and money by using prefabricated house plans from Cool House Plans. We offer dozens of styles and designs for one-story houses, and we can also help you customize any of our plans — allowing you to build the house of your dreams.
Browse our selection of home plans today, or for more information, call our toll-free customer service line at 1-800-482-0464.