New Construction: Building Up/Building Out

Both building up and building out your new home design are valid options, but certain factors could influence your final decision about the footprint of the new house. Read about the virtues of each option to help you clarify your thinking as you plan your dream home.

In Favor of Building Up

If you have a narrow lot, or the potential for a stunning view from your new home, then adding a second story (rather than spreading out your home ranch-style) might be the better option.

You could save money and gain additional advantages with a 2-story home, including:

  • Save money by buying a smaller lot, or a narrow one. This could allow you to get into a sought-after neighborhood that you’ve had your eye on.
  • Save money with a relatively small roof and foundation, saving money over what a more “spread out” ranch-style home would require for the same square footage of living space. Expansive one-story homes can also require more plumbing pipes, longer duct runs and other infrastructure costs.
  • Enjoy more outdoor space around your home (if you opt for a larger lot.) That means you’ll get more green space, more outdoor entertaining space and more privacy from the neighbors.
  • Enjoy better long-range views of the surrounding area with a 2-story home.
  • Enjoy a bedroom retreat. Some families like all the bedrooms on a separate, upper floor, away from the main living area. Of course, you could make the master private by keeping it on the ground floor, with kids’ bedrooms (and perhaps a play room) upstairs.
  • Have the opportunity for a grand, 2-story entry hall, double-height windows or a loft overlooking the downstairs.
  • Avoid the need to level more land. If your lot is on a significant slope, building up might be preferable to building out.
  • Get daily exercise running up and down stairs.

The Perks of Building Out 

If you have a different set of family needs or personal preferences, building out (instead of up) could be the right choice for you.

There are many benefits of a single-story ranch home, where you can:

  • Make this your forever home, with no accessibility issues as you grow older.
  • Make life easy for small children, grandparents and pets to navigate your one-story home, with no stairs to worry about.
  • Have the option for more house and less lot (with less outdoor upkeep required). A ranch home could fill the lot or property area more completely. (In some areas, you have more setback requirement than others, so you may have limits to building out.)
  • Keep an eye (or ear) on the kids. Some people feel that communicating is easier if you’re all on the same floor.
  • Be more efficient and multi-task. Some say that running from room to room (to do laundry, talk to family members, etc.) is easier if the home is all on one level. Cleaning may be simpler in a single-story home. You won’t need to drag a heavy vacuum up and down the stairs in your ranch house. (Or won’t need to buy a second one for upstairs.)
  • Design unique and/or high ceilings. You may have more options for high, vaulted or tray ceilings in various rooms, if you choose to “build out” for a single story home.
  • Get more natural light in the living area with skylights. Sure, you can have skylights on your second story in a 2-story home, but to let more natural light into your main living room or great room, you’ll most likely need a one-story with skylights.

Whether you want to build up or out (or both), make sure your new home is designed and tailored to your preferences and family needs. Deal with an experienced, licensed, insured and bonded design/build company for your new, custom ranch home or two-story home. Contact Miller’s Residential Creations to discuss your new WV custom home design and construction process today.

Brian Miller is the owner of Miller's Residential Creations, a custom home builder and remodeling company servicing Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan Counties of West Virginia since 2004.
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