New American Funding Blog

Is a split-level home the right choice for you?

By Courtney Lynch   |  December 22, 2015

Open floor plans and many options for the living area draw many to the split-level home.Home designs have really changed since the '50s, '60s and '70s. During these decades, the favored style was the split-level. It made its way into American architecture following World War II, according to Deseret News. It was inspired by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright's designs, but was marketed as a less expensive option when looking for a multi-story home.

While the design has lost some of its popularity - according to 24/7 Wall St., the ranch home is most popular today, with splits coming in fourth - there are still many advantages to the split-level.

When buying a home, consider all aspects of the home, from its location to its price to its layout. Here are some of the pros and cons to the split-level home.

Room for creativity

Split-levels often have two sides: a single-story side and a two-story side, according to Deseret News. The two halves are positioned so one floor is half-way between the other two, connected by small staircases. The stacked design allowed for more space to be built into a home that was on a small plot of land. Because of this, the homes were usually less expensive than a larger home, but in some ways felt just as spacious.

The single-story side of the home can inspire some creative home designs. Home Advisor explains that the main level could be enhanced with skylights or vaulted ceilings. Big windows also bring in more light and make the room look brighter and more spacious.

A split-level home can easily accommodate many bedrooms and bathrooms. If you have a big family, this is perfect. After all, the infamous Brady Bunch happily lived together in their split-level home. But even if your family is smaller, with no or just one or two children, some of the smaller rooms can be combined into one large bedroom, according to Active Rain.

The kitchen in a split-level home is typically built in the back of the house without much light or room. Active Rain explains this is one of the main complaints of many split-level owners. However, the back of the house is typically expansion-friendly. Expanding the house backwards can bring enough room for an upgraded kitchen, plus new areas for dining and entertaining.

Lights and levels

According to Active Rain, another aspect split-level homeowners are disappointed with is low levels of natural light. These homes typically lack windows on their sides, creating some pretty dark spaces within. The best fix for this is to add windows. If you decide to opt for a kitchen expansion, this is a great way to incorporate more windows into the house.

In addition to feeling spacious, split-level homes can provide greater privacy as well. Each room has its own distinct space, allowing people to enjoy some peace and quiet. However, this can also be worrisome for some homebuyers. Heating a home with rooms and floors that are so sectioned-off can be tricky. Because of this, there are typically some rooms or areas that will be colder than others.

Though the levels are tricky to keep heated, they provide some benefits as well. Having levels closer together means the staircases are shorter than the typical multi-story home, according to Realtor Mag. This is ideal for those with joint problems or mobility limitations.

In many split-levels, though the bedrooms and kitchen might be smaller and lacking light, the main areas of the home generally have an open floor plan, which leaves room for some decorative creativity.

Though split-level homes aren't the typical first choice of many of today's homebuyers, Realtor Mag explains that the features of the home can benefit many of them. The price is extremely affordable and the design is versatile enough to accommodate families big or small. Plus, with a little bit of imagination, an addition or renovation can transform the ordinary split-level house into the home of your dreams.
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