Rancher vs. 2-Story House: Pros and Cons (PLUS Take Our Poll) (2023)

Rancher vs. 2-Story House: Pros and Cons (PLUS Take Our Poll) (1)

Is it better to have a rancher style home or 2-story?

At the end of the day it boils down to personal preference.

If purchasing an existing home, it depends on the inventory in your area.

If building a home, it depends on your lot.

Nevertheless, there are some objective pros and cons to both styles of houses.

Before we get into this analysis, see what other people think…

Table of Contents Show

A. Advantagesof a Rancher (1-Story) Home

Rancher vs. 2-Story House: Pros and Cons (PLUS Take Our Poll) (2)

1. No stairs (the lazy factor)

If you’re a fitness fanatic, you like stairs. If you’re like the rest of us, stairs are a hassle to go up and down.

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I’d rather walk on a flat surface than climb up and down stairs. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone here.

2. Less noise (from above)

I don’t like hearing noise from above, footsteps included. With a 3 year old in the house, I hear a lot of foot-stomping and jumping around from upstairs. I’d rather not hear it.

Most 2-story homes aren’t built with perfect noise proofing between floors. Some are better than others but I’ve yet to be in a house where I don’t hear noise from above.

3. Great for mobility issues

At some point stairs are more than a hassle. They’re an obstacle. Many people with mobility issues sell their home because they cannot go up and down stairs. If you’re building or buying your forever home, this is a good consideration. At some point many of us will not be able to navigate stairs.

4. More renovation flexibility

Load-bearing walls make knocking down walls a problem. Yes, these days expensive beam-work can replace a load-bearing wall, but it’s expensive.

When you have a rancher, it’s much easier to knock down walls and add on extensions because there’s much less weight to consider. Consequently, it’s easier to create open concept living areas.

5. Easy to add skylights

In fact, it’s not only easier, it’s pretty much possible anywhere you like. You simply punch a hole in the roof and create the skylight. This is not possible when you have a second floor.

The potential for adding natural light is enormous. This can be a very nice benefit if you like a light-filled home such as a light-filled kitchen or bathroom.

6. Easier for exterior maintenance

If given a choice, I’d rather maintain a single story home over a two-story home. I’m not too wild about cleaning gutters 20 feet in the air; whereas 10 feet up isn’t so bad. I can do it on a step-ladder.

Same thing goes with washing a house, cleaning windows and performing any roof maintenance.

7. High/cathedral ceiling

It’s far easier to add cathedral or tall ceilings to an existing single story home than it is to a 2-story home.

One of my favorite interior design elements is elevated and cathedral ceilings.

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8. More deck/patio potential

With a single story, you have more rooms from which to add a deck or patio. Just create a door and a patio and you’re done. It’s not so simple from a second story.

9. Child safety

My wife and I have a 3 year old and 3 month old. While stairs aren’t an issue for our 3 year old, they were and they will be again in less than 1 year.

Moreover, even though our 3 year old can navigate stairs very well, there’s always the chance of him falling down the stairs.

10. Easier escape

Nobody like to contemplate a house fire, but it’s always possible. It’s much easier jumping out of windows from the first floor compared to the second story floor. It’s not pleasant to think about, but it is a consideration.

11. Easier to clean

I’m not keen about vacuuming any room, but I particularly don’t like vacuuming stairs and I don’t care for lugging cleaning supplies and heavy vacuums up and down stairs.

12. Laundry

When you live in a rancher, you don’t have the issue of having the laundry room one or two flights of stairs from the bedrooms where most laundry must be delivered. With a rancher, delivering completed laundry is easier (unless it’s a 20,000 square foot home and the laundry room is far from the bedrooms).

13. They’re in demand (great resale value)

14. Cheaper to heat

Surprisingly, a one-story home is cheaper to heat and cool than a two-story because 2-story requires two HVAC systems (source: More Home).

B. Advantages of 2-Story Homes

1. More square footage with smaller footprint (i.e. smaller lot)

This is a no-brainer advantage of 2 story homes. In other words, it’s cost-effective. Moreover, many lots, especially city lots, aren’t large enough for a rancher.

At the end of the day, we like large homes. The average home size is much larger today than it was 50 years ago. You can see this in any town. The 1950’s bungalow is tiny compared to homes in newer suburbs.

We expect each of our kids to have their own bedrooms, we like large kitchens, sumptuous primary suites, larger bathrooms, family rooms, media rooms, etc.

2. Get a View

Yes, one story can improve a view. Sometimes a lot makes it beneficial to put bedrooms on the lower level and have the living area on top. This is especially the case on sloping lots with a view.

3. Balcony potential

Balconies are romantic. If you like the idea of an elevated balcony off of your primary bedroom, you definitely want a 2 story home.

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4. Distinct separation between bedrooms and living space

While most ranchers’ layouts have the bedrooms on one side and the living space on the other side, 2-story homes create even more a separation between living and sleeping quarters (assuming the bedrooms are or mostly on one floor).

5. Easier to accommodate on most lots

Many lots aren’t wide or big enough to build a large rancher (and leave sufficient outdoor space). With 2 young kids, outdoor space is important for us; we would not sacrifice outdoor space for house unless the lot was fairly large (i.e. 15,000+ square foot lot).

6. Use stairs for aesthetic effect

Rancher vs. 2-Story House: Pros and Cons (PLUS Take Our Poll) (3)

Stairs can be beautiful and add an aesthetic element to a home. This advantage may be a stretch and you might thinking it’s nonsense, but there are home designs where the stairs look amazing.

For example, a 2-story foyer with winding or half-landing stairs is much grander than a single story foyer.

7. Create an open loft area with a 2-story home

I like open loft areas of a home that look down on the first floor. These look great from the first and second floor. Obviously this is only possible with a 2-story home.

8. 1-story houses are generally cheaper to build

Given the roof and foundation are expensive components of a house to build, a 2 story containing the same square footage as a rancher will generally cost less per square foot.

C. Conclusion

Strictly form an objective consideration, ranch-style homes offer more advantages.

Moreover, when you take our poll above, you’ll see that ranchers are definitely more popular which is good data supporting that ranchers are great for resale value.

Yet, 2-stories are so tempting because it’s cost-effective to simply add a second floor that can double square footage. After all, bedrooms aren’t that expensive to build.

Therefore, while our list of advantages for ranch-style homes is much longer than 2-story home design, the strength of the individual 2-story benefits can still outweigh the benefits of a rancher.

(c) 2015

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Rancher vs. 2-Story House: Pros and Cons (PLUS Take Our Poll) (5)


Is it cheaper to build a ranch or 2 story house? ›

Advantages of Two Story Homes

Cost less per square foot to build. That's because the most expensive elements of home-building — excavation/foundation and rafters/roof installation — are being built on a smaller footprint. Plus, you'll have less roof area to maintain. More fuel efficient.

Can a ranch style house be 2 story? ›

It's important to note that while most ranch style homes don't feature a second floor, many do have finished basements. Serving as an additional floor, the basement increases the overall space available in the home and works great as an area for a home theater, a home gym, or additional bedrooms.

Is it cheaper to heat a ranch or two story? ›

A two-story home is typically more expensive to heat and cool than a ranch-style as well. That's because hot air rises and cold air falls, making it more expensive to keep even temperatures throughout the home.

Are ranch style homes better? ›

Whether your focus is the practical or the beautiful, ranch style homes are made to be forever homes. They're functional, easy to maintain and easy for most homeowners to personalize. With a low profile and accessible spaces, ranch homes have it all.

What is the most affordable style of home to build? ›

Ranch Homes

A home with a simple and concise layout is the cheapest type of house to build. Ranch homes are typically single-story structures with attached garages. They're easy to find construction plans for and highly customizable, so you can find a home that fits your needs and budget.

What is a good size for a ranch style house? ›

Most ranch-style houses average between 1500-1700 square feet, but construction depends on space availability.

Why do people like ranch homes? ›

Having bedrooms and your laundry on the same level is also a great time saver. No trudging up and down the steps with baskets of laundry or cleaning supplies. Easy Access to the Outdoors – Ranch homes offer up much more potential for deck space and outdoor living.

Are ranch homes cheaper to heat and cool? ›

Along with a lower selling price, smaller ranch homes potentially have lower heating and cooling costs, as well. If your ranch home is well insulated and has energy efficient windows, heating a compact home is always more cost effective than trying to heat larger, rambling houses.

Are two story houses harder to cool? ›

This temperature imbalance between floors can affect more than just your family's comfort. Heat rises to upper floors and cold air sinks to lower floors. This means that your air conditioning will generally work harder upstairs during the summer months and your heating downstairs will work harder during the winter.

What type of home is most efficient? ›

Typically, single-storey floorplans are the most energy efficient. With less rooms to heat, they are easier to maintain an even temperature through winter whilst staying cool in summer.

Are 2 story homes harder to sell? ›

If you are thinking ahead toward a time when you might consider selling, it's important to note that single story homes tend to resell easier and quicker due to their popularity with home buyers.

Do two story houses use more electricity? ›

Why Two-Story Homes Can Have an Edge, Energy-Wise. The largest, most often overlooked advantage of two story homes as it applies to energy efficiency is surface area. A two story home of the same square footage as a single is going to have a smaller footprint.

Why do ranch houses cost more than 2 stories? ›

Ranch homes are more expensive than regular houses due to high build costs and the large plot of land they are built on. Ranch homes typically need larger foundations which is expensive. Other factors driving up the cost of ranch homes are extra roofing, wiring, and plumbing costs.

What is the point of owning a ranch? ›

Owning a ranch can provide intangible benefits such as uninterrupted family time and the enjoyment of nature. Choose your property wisely and manage the land carefully, and ranches can provide tangible benefits as well.

What should you consider before buying a ranch? ›

Things to Know Before Buying a Ranch
  • How many animals will the property support? ...
  • How much of my time will be required? ...
  • Where will I buy livestock? ...
  • Will I realize tax savings from my agricultural endeavors? ...
  • What and who will I need to know? ...
  • How much gross income can I expect? ...
  • How much net income can be expected?

Is owning a ranch worth it? ›

Ranches are always profitable. Even if you don't plan on developing or planting crops or raising livestock, you can still earn money by having your property leased. This provides a passive revenue stream that requires you to do nothing while earning an income at the same time.

Is it usually cheaper to build or buy a house? ›

In general, buying an existing home is cheaper. According to the National Association of Home Builders and the U.S. Census Bureau the median cost to buy a house today is $410,600 which is $28,800 less than building one.

Is it cheaper to buy or build a house in 2022? ›

Is it cheaper to build or buy a house? As a rule of thumb, it's cheaper to buy a house than to build one. Building a new home costs $34,000 more, on average, than purchasing an existing home. The median cost of new construction was $449,000 in May 2022.

What is the best shape to build a house? ›

Rectangles, arches, and triangles are the most common shapes used to build big structures. The weight pushes down on the rectangle and causes the top side to bend. The weight presses down on the arch and is spread outward along the curve to the ground below.

What colors look good on a ranch house? ›

Ranch Home Colors

Neutrals such as beige, brown, or gray provide an aesthetically pleasing exterior color scheme that works well with low-to-the-ground houses. Natural stone adds texture to the facade of this ranch, while the roof, front door, and garage door work in agreement with the dark brown trim.

What is one advantage of a ranch design house? ›

Ranch style homes offer flexibility as they age because the single-storey layout allows spaces to be used in the ways that best suit the homeowners at that time. Bedrooms can easily be transformed into an office, a home gym, a music room, or an arts and crafts studio, for example.

What size house sells best? ›

What size house sells best? But in reality, the larger the property, the longer it stays on the market. The places that sold the quickest—on average, 86 days—were between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet and priced at about $194,000.

Do ranch homes have better resale value? ›

In some parts of the country, ranch style homes are built on larger than average tracts of land and therefore have to pay higher taxes. This may make them less attractive to buyers. In other areas, say with an aging population, the desire for homes with no stairs is high, lending ranch homes significant resale value.

Are ranch houses still popular? ›

By the 1950s, ranch style homes made up nine out of ten houses in America. Nowadays, the style is still common in most states.

Is Ranch House safe? ›

ranches are the safest structure during one. Easier for parents with small children – Small children usually mean many times getting up at night. With all the bedrooms on one level, you aren't going up and down the stairs and fighting a baby gate all night. You can do this with a 2 story with all bedrooms up too.

What house temp saves the most money? ›

According to ENERGY STAR, setting your thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) when you're home is the ideal balance of comfort and energy efficiency.

Are two story homes less energy efficient? ›

Do Not Count Out A Two-Story Home. The roof is responsible for a lot of heat transfer and when your roof is smaller, as it usually is in a two-story home you have less of this transfer. This allows you to save more energy than you would in a one-story home.

What is the best way to heat a two story house? ›

Set the first floor's thermostat to your desired temperature, and then decrease the temperature setting on your thermostats by two degrees as you go up. Warm air on the first floor will rise and make the upper floors more comfortable.

What is the weakest part of a house? ›

In reality, however, the front door is the weakest point. Although there are two main reasons as to why the front door is the weakest point in the house, it is important to understand that, home security is the first step towards protecting you and your family.

Is a ranch more energy-efficient? ›

Improved efficiency. Single-story homes require less energy to heat and cool. If you are concerned about the environmental impact of your property and want to keep your utility bills down, a ranch home may help you achieve that goal.

What houses get broken into the most? ›

Homes on the outskirts of neighborhoods are more vulnerable, because fewer neighbors will be able to see if a crime is being committed. This includes dead-end streets, cul-de-sacs and locations with few outlets. Any house that's secluded may also be a target. Corner homes are iffy.

What house style is most popular 2022? ›

Top 10 Most Popular Types of Houses in the USA
  1. Ranch. Ranch houses are trendy and are regarded as a terrific home style for everyone, in particular families. ...
  2. Cape Cod. ...
  3. English Tudor. ...
  4. Victorian. ...
  5. Bungalow. ...
  6. Contemporary. ...
  7. Mediterranean. ...
  8. Colonial.

What is the most popular room in a house? ›

The kitchen and the master bathroom. Buyers tend to show more interest in these rooms than any other in a home.

Where are ranch houses most common? ›

Ranch-style homes are common in most of the United States, though they're most common in California, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas.

What type of house lasts the longest? ›

Stone and brick houses last the longest. If you are using wood, choose a hardwood for durability. A one-storey house will last longer because it is easier to maintain. Steel-frame techniques are also more durable for building houses than traditional stick-framing techniques and can last for 100+ years.

What house is best for hot climate? ›

Compact house forms, rather than sprawling, multi-wing designs work best in hot locales. Home designs with shaded porches, wrap around porches or plans with courtyards that create a shaded open area within the building are ideal.

What is the best placement for a house? ›

To make the most of the sun for warmth and natural light, your home's main living areas (or any rooms you use a lot) should face north. The main glazing in the house, such as windows and glass doors, should also face north. Anywhere between 20°W – 30°E of true north is fine.

Is 2 story house a good investment? ›

Pros and Cons of a Two Storey House

If the area you're looking to invest in is densely populated or just has small block sizes, a two storey house is a good investment idea because it lets you maximise the space you have helping you attract prospective renters. Additionally, two storey homes tend to have larger yards.

Are two story houses safer? ›

Two story homes also provide greater security and privacy. Because bedrooms are often on upper floors, they are more difficult to access by burglars and others with malevolent intent.

What are pros and cons of a 2 story house? ›

PRO: Potential views: a second-story can mean beautiful views in picturesque areas. CON: Stairs: constantly climbing stairs can be exhausting and cause injuries for children or seniors. Look for a home with an upstairs laundry room to make life easier.

Why is it cheaper to build a 2 story house? ›

Two-story homes are more cost-efficient to build because they offer more space without adding more foundation or roof costs, so the cost per square foot is often less expensive.

Is it cheaper to add a second story or build new house? ›

Building out is significantly less expensive than building up. On average, it costs between $140 to $180 to expand your home's footprint outwards. When you build a second or third floor onto your home, you can expect the costs to range from $180 to $250 per square foot.

Is it cheaper to build a 1.5 or 2 story house? ›

Potentially more expensive: The cost of a 1.5-story home may be more expensive than a two story home option due to the larger foundation and roof coverage area.

Are two story houses safe? ›

Two story homes also provide greater security and privacy. Because bedrooms are often on upper floors, they are more difficult to access by burglars and others with malevolent intent.

Can my foundation support a second story? ›

How do you know if your foundation can support a second story? The only way to be sure about the strength of your home's foundation is to hire an engineer to do a structural assessment of your home and determine what reinforcements will be needed to carry the additional weight of a second-story addition.

Can you add a second floor to a ranch? ›

Adding A Second Story To A Ranch House

Ranch houses tend to be the most common type of housing that people want to add a second story to. It's easy to see why as ranch houses are traditionally single-story homes, and adding a second story can double your living space.

What is the cheapest way to build an addition? ›

Finishing a basement, attic, or garage is one of the more inexpensive ways to add a room to your home as you won't need to add a foundation, roof, or structural elements.

What are the disadvantages of a two story house? ›

(1) Stairs may not be your friend – While stairs can be aesthetically pleasing and help make your home look larger, walking up and down stairs can become difficult, especially as we age. It can also be a safety issue for you if young children or senior citizens live in the home.

What is a good size house for 2? ›

Average House Size for 2- and 4-Person Families

For instance, a 4-person family living in a 2,700-square-foot home will have about 675 square feet per person. For a 2-person family, that number would double to about 1,350 square feet per person.


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