SPLIT LEVEL HOUSE: Meaning, Remodeling, and Buying Guide

split level house

The split-level home became fashionable in the 1960s and remained so throughout the 1970s.
Tastes change with time, and split-level houses are no longer built – at least not frequently. However, they are fairly common in many major U.S. real estate markets, so it’s important to understand this style, the benefits and, the drawbacks of living in a split-level house. Here we’ll also see a few tips on remodeling a split-level house.

What is a Split Level House?

Simply put, a split-level house has staggered levels.

This usually means that when you walk in through the front door, you’ll be welcomed by a staircase leading up to the bedroom level and another leading down to the basement.

The basement is almost often finished as well, allowing it to serve many functions. It will typically have at least one bedroom and a laundry room. Many split-level homeowners will also use the main space of their basement as a living room or principal room for entertaining.

Another simple way to think about split-level homes is that there is no one floor that covers the entire footprint of the house. Some may have huge main floors that incorporate the kitchen and dining room, but they eventually give way to staircases that lead to the other two storeys. Whereas the floors of a craftsman’s house and other popular designs exactly overlap each other, the floors of a split-level home are staggered.

Split-Level vs. Bilevel Homes

Though many people confuse split-level and bilevel homes, there are some significant differences between the two. To summarize, split-level homes feature three levels separated by short flights of steps. Bilevel houses, on the other hand, have two levels that can be entered by an entry between the two floors. This style of house is also known as a raised ranch because the top story is built directly on top of the lower floor.

The lower level is usually partially underground but has windows. This floor has bedrooms and occasionally a laundry room or bathroom, whereas the top level has a family room, living, dining, and kitchen area on one side and a master suite or additional bedrooms and baths on the other.

What is a Split-Level Ranch?

A split-level ranch house, on the other hand, is a one-story ranch house with two extra levels added. A half-flight of stairs often leads up from the doorway to the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms. From the doorway, a half-flight of steps leads down to a family or rec room, as well as possibly another bedroom or two.

Split-Level House Styles

Here’s a rundown of some of the different sorts of split-level houses.

#1. Standard Split House

The normal split-level home features a front door on the main level of the house, which also houses the living room, kitchen, dining room, and family rooms. The bedrooms and baths are on the second level of the house, while the family room and garage are in the basement.

#2. Side split

The numerous floors of a side split-level home are visible from the front of the home. The floors in a side split-level residence are typically staggered. The attached garage is normally on the lowest level, with the living room and kitchen on the other side of the house one floor up. The bedrooms and bathrooms are positioned on the top level of the house, over the garage.

#3. Back split

A back split-level home seems to be a one-level ranch house from the front. From the back or side of the house, the numerous storeys are evident.

A stacked split-level house can have up to four storeys. Each small floor will be on a different level, with short sets of steps branching off the main stairwell.

Common Features of Split-Level Homes

Some of the characteristics of split-level dwellings are as follows.

#1. Short Stairs

The most noticeable aspect of a split-level home is the several levels of little steps leading from the floor to floor. A flight of stairs in a split-level residence usually has three or four steps.

#2. Bay windows:

To let in natural light, most split-level homes will have a wide bay window or picture window in the main living room.

#3. Finished basement level:

In a split-level home, the lower basement level is usually not all the way underground and is usually finished. This makes it ideal for use as an extra family room, laundry room, or den.

#4. Low-pitched roofs:

Low-pitched roofs are common in split-level homes to optimize the largest spaces while yet allowing rain and snow to fall off the roof.

The Benefits and drawbacks of split-level Houses

Split-level houses, like all other types of residences, have advantages and disadvantages. So, here’s a list of why you might want to explore a split-level home, as well as some potential negatives to consider.

The Benefits of Split-Level House

#1. Privacy

A split-level floor design can provide exceptional seclusion, especially if bedrooms are located on both floors. I grew up in a split-level house, and as a teenager, I moved into the only downstairs bedroom in the house, which both my parents and I liked. As a result, split-level homes, particularly those with bedrooms on different floors, can be ideal alternatives if you live with an older family.

#2. Affordability

Split-level homes are frequently out of date, and the concept of a split-level floor plan isn’t exactly cutting-edge. This combination, in many situations, can result in a price-per-square-foot bargain.

#3. Ranch-style benefits, but with added features

A split-level home combines some of the advantages of ranch-style homes with the added room of a multilevel home. The bedrooms and major living areas are usually close together in split-level homes, separated only by a tiny stairway. On the lower floor or basement level, there is usually a family room and sometimes an additional bedroom.

In a nutshell, it gives you the square footage of a two-story home while keeping all of the rooms you use the most near together. This also helps to maximize yard space, as a 2,000-square-foot ranch house will take up much more of your lot than a 2,000-square-foot split-level house. In fact, there is a sort of split-level house called a raised ranch. It enhances the ranch house benefits by adding extra space on a lower level.

Disadvantages of split-level houses

#1. Stairs galore

If you’re concerned about your ability to climb stairs, either now or in the future, a split-level house is usually not the greatest option. Not only do you have to climb steps to enter the house, but you also have to climb up or down to go between the living areas.

#2. Awkward expression

While split-level homes were popular around 30 years ago, many modern homebuyers find them to have an odd style. As a result, they may be more difficult to sell than a ranch or standard two-story house.

Is a Split-Level House Right for You?

Split-level homes have been a popular choice since the 1950s, though they are no longer as common.

Nonetheless, they are still popular for four major reasons.

#1. Open Floor Plans Are Becoming Unpopular

For starters, homeowners are increasingly dissatisfied with the open floor layouts that have dominated domestic architecture for the previous decade or so.

While these designs gained popularity due to their openness, it appears that more and more homeowners seek definition. It’s easier to furnish and decorate separate rooms when the structure of the house supports that differentiation.

#2. You will get more bang for your buck.

Second, they maximize the use of a lower lot size. Instead of two stories and a basement, a split-level house may have three levels and possibly a crawlspace of the basement for added storage. Again, each space seems separate, giving you more options for dividing up your house as you see fit.

As a result, with a split-level house, you may often enjoy more square footage without having to pay for the type of land that is typically associated with that size in other homes.

#3. You’re never far from any of the rooms.

Third, many owners of split-level homes say they appreciate how easy it is to move from one room to the next, regardless of which floor you’re on.

That’s useful when you’re carrying groceries in from the garage and want to get into the kitchen fast, or when you want to watch TV in your basement while still being close to your front door in case someone rings the doorbell.

This is why many parents with young children adore these residences. They still provide room and seclusion, but you can walk around without ever being too far away from your child.

#4. There’s Still Time to Get a Good Deal

Finally, while their popularity is returning, split-level homes aren’t yet in such great demand that higher prices are automatically justified, even if it means more square footage for your lot.

So, for the time being, split-level homes are a good choice for first-time homeowners or anybody else looking to keep their budget in control without sacrificing too much space.

Are Split-level Houses Difficult to Sell?

While some homeowners love split-level homes, they might be unappealing to others, making them difficult to sell. Too many steps, inadequate natural light, a choppy floor layout, and a lack of curb appeal are some of the factors that may make a split-level house difficult to sell. They may also appear to some to be out of date.

How to Sell a Split-Level House

Split-level homes may not be for everyone, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be sold. If you’re trying to sell a split-level house, your marketing methods are crucial. You may promote your split-level house by emphasizing qualities that a buyer may perceive as a problem and presenting them in a positive way that makes it desirable.

Instead of fretting about an unstructured floor design, encourage purchasers to consider how much solitude split-level homes provide. You can also make minor changes to solve other issues in the home to improve its appeal. For example, you can improve the curb appeal of your split-level home by investing in improved landscaping or changing the garage door. Finally, be certain that you are setting your home to highlight its best features.

If you follow these three suggestions, you’re sure to get more people interested in your split-level house!

Remodeling a Split-Level house

If you’re thinking about remodeling or modernizing your split-level house, you should know your alternatives. First, let’s look at some outside remodeling you can do to your split-level house. You can improve the curb appeal of your house by replacing the siding or adding windows or other items to visually balance the façade.

However, if you want to make interior improvements, you can update the house by knocking down walls to create an open floor plan or repainting the walls to make the area appear larger. Stick to bright paint colors or gentle tones of white, blue, and green to make a space appear larger.

Split Level House FAQs

Why are split-level homes cheaper?

Split-level homes may appear to be out of date, but they are really less expensive because there is less demand in some locations and there is plenty of inventory due to a building boom in the 1970s. It’s an especially wise choice for first-time homebuyers.

Are split-level houses good?

A split-level house can provide exceptional value for your homebuying budget, and it can be a wise choice for homeowners who desire some separation between living rooms while keeping the main portions of the home close together.

What is the difference between a split-level and a raised ranch?

A split-level has more than two levels, usually with staggering half-story shifts between them. A raised ranch has two floors, with the lowest level dipped below grade and an entry midway between the two-floor levels.

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