Single Story Homes: House Plans, Benefits and More

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Layouts, designs and size of homes change with time. But some types will always be a part of how homes are built.

The single story home has always been a staple of housing. From ancient times to modern society, the simplicity has served the needs for many.

There are many reasons to build a one level home. Here are some of the most popular:

• Age in place. The absence of stairs means as you get older you do not have to worry about going up and down flights of stairs to live your day to day life.

• Investment. Once vacation rentals were popularized by AirBnB and other similar sites, these homes became very popular to build either to rent out.

As housing becomes more expensive and in areas with shortages, you may also be able to find a long term tenant.

• Accessory Dwelling/Living Unit. If you are looking for a guest house, pool house or other space that is not connected to your home, a small single story home works perfectly. Check with your local codes on ADUs/ALUs.

• Primary Home. There is not always a “special” reason to build a one level home to live in. Sometimes, these homes just make the most sense for your needs or taste.

What is a Single Story Home?

A true single story home is a home that has all of the living space on one level of the home. The kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, living areas are all accessed without having to go up and down any stairs.

In some areas of the country and world, there are fully dug out basements. These basements may also have finished space.

Where I live, many people refer to single story homes when they also have a finished (or unfinished) basement.

To access a basement you will need to go down stairs. This is a one story home “above grade” (above the ground) but you really live on 2 levels.

A true single story home has all the square footage of the home only on one story, built on a concrete slab foundation.

There are many different names for one level homes depending on the style of home and area of the world you are looking.

These names may include: rambler, cottage, ranch, rancher, bungalow, cabin and more.

Benefits of a Single Story Home

Single story homes offer homeowners a number of different benefits. Here are some of the biggest reasons to build smaller.


If you have a single story home built on a concrete slab foundation and no stairs leading to the front door, you have the chance to live without any stairs.

Stairs are considered a hazard for some, including children and the elderly. Less stairs means the home is more accessible.

This also means that you could live in this home as you age without having to modify the home.

Potential for Less Wasted Space

“We never use this room”.

You would be surprised how many times I hear that from people who own large, expansive multi level homes.

Having a home where you use and live in all the rooms means you are not spending money and energy to heat, cool and clean spaces that you rarely go into.


If you are looking to downsize your life, a one story home might be a good option. They usually have less storage space, which at first glance may seem like a negative thing.

But there is something to be said for decluttering your life of excess things. Less storage space equals less “stuff”.

Above Grade Living

Single story homes built on a slab foundation or other type of raised foundation means you will not have any space below the ground.

This means you will have less potential for moisture intrusion and other issues that can come up in a basement.

Great Option for Smaller Footprints

If you want to build a small property, either a guest house, pool house or just a minimal design, a single story home is an attractive option.

These kinds of smaller homes have the potential to have less maintenance than a bigger home. This is especially nice if you are not going to use the house all the time.

Investment Potential

Small cabins and other compact one story homes have become very popular as vacation rentals or other types of income properties.

You can make a good return on this type of property because you will be able to charge modest nightly, weekly or monthly (or longer) rates compared to a large property.

Other Things to Consider

Keep in mind, the single story home has its limitations and drawbacks. Before building one (or buying a resale one) make sure it is the right fit.

For example, they are generally more expensive to build per square foot. This is because for a builder to build another story once the foundation, etc is in place is cheaper than building a more expanded single story.

For similar reasons, they tend to be built smaller than multi level homes.

However, because many are smaller they may cost you less as a whole for the project (just more per square foot).

You also commonly get slightly less separation of living areas in a single story home. Cooking, living and sleeping rooms are all on one level.

If you are in a busy area, you also will be on the same level as cars driving by and people walking by.

There is a time to build a single story home and time to build a larger, multi level home.

Single Story Home Plans

If you are looking for plans for a single story home either as an accessory home (such as guest house), a primary home or investment property, I recommend looking at Truoba.

They have a selection of sizes, styles, and also offer custom home/site plans at a fair and transparent price.

A rendering of a single story modern home designed by Truoba.

See single story house plans now from Truoba.

It is important to choose the right plan for your planned use for the home.

If the home is an investment property, strongly consider what your renters are going to want in the home.

You can use these house plans with a local builder or does custom homes to find out the costs for your area to build them. Costs to build will vary on the market, area and builder.

For more on house plans, see our guide on floor plans and other plans here.


There will always be a market for single story homes. They are simple to live in, can be attractive, great investments and give you other benefits as well.

However, the size and layout of a single story home may not be for everyone. It is always important to think about your short and long term goals anytime you buy a piece of real estate or build a home.

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Will Rodgers

Will Rodgers is a real estate expert, creator of this site and partner at the Alper Real Estate Group. Will has been sought after by many major publications for his expertise and creates sought after content for buyers, sellers and investors.