Pros and Cons of a Split-Level House

Rose Morrison

Feb 11, 2023


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The house-hunting process can be a challenging but fun experience. You’ll come across many types of homes in your search, and it isn’t easy to single out the one you like. One style you may see is a split-level house. These units are unique in their design and can be an excellent fit for you and your family. However, they can also present challenges. This guide will outline the pros and cons of split-level houses to help you decide. 

What Is a Split-Level House?

A split-level house sounds like the name suggests. It’s a home with staggered floor levels separated by stairs. These houses typically have two or three distinct floor levels because the original builders constructed the house on uneven land.

The rise of split-level houses coincides with the surge in suburbia. After World War II, people began moving to suburban neighborhoods. Automobiles became more prevalent, making it easier to travel to and from the city for work and other needs. Among the most famous houses of this time was the split-level house. They were ideal for families because you could separate the noisy living areas from the quiet bedrooms. 

Pro: Interior and Exterior Space

One of the primary advantages of a split-level house is its amount of space with the exterior and interior. These homes differ from those with open-floor plans because they’re more efficient with space, maximizing the room on each floor. You can have more bedrooms, communal areas and a garage without taking up much space. They’re ideal for properties on smaller pieces of land.

Pro: They’re Affordable

Split-level houses don’t require much land, so they’re often more affordable than ranch-style homes. Although these houses were prominent in the mid-20th century, they became less popular in the late 20th century. In the 2020s, there is less demand for split-level homes, so the prices are typically affordable. Those looking to buy a house for the first time may see these homes as a practical option.  

Pro: There’s More Privacy

One of the distinct features of a split-level house comes from its name. There are split levels, often two or three floors. The amount of space on each floor depends on the home, but separating the levels brings privacy to each section.

For example, say you’re looking at a split-level house with three floors. The bottom level could be your garage or basement. The middle floor is the space you use for the kitchen and living room. And then the top floor is where the bedrooms are. The separation of rooms reduces the amount of noise traveling among the rooms. Someone working in the basement is unlikely to bother a family member trying to sleep on the top floor.  

Con: Remodeling Can Be Difficult

Split-level houses are excellent for many homeowners but have some disadvantages. One of the drawbacks is you may have a hard time remodeling them. Open floor plans in a ranch house are easier to rearrange. However, split-level homes are more challenging to remodel because the constructors typically design each floor with a predetermined purpose.

Con: They’re Harder to Sell

Remodeling is challenging for split-level houses because you can’t make some of the additions homeowners can do to ranch-style properties. Maintenance is more complex, and many people see these homes as outdated. The low demand makes split-level houses affordable if you’re a buyer. However, sellers will have a hard time getting their house off pending. What does pending mean? It’s when a deal is almost complete, but contingencies remain.

Con: Stairs Can Be Burdensome

One drawback that has decreased the popularity of split-level houses is the stairs. These homes are ideal for young homeowners, but they’ll be less suitable as you age. Older adults with less mobility will have difficulty navigating among the floors. People with disabilities also may find these houses challenging. Some split-level homes have steep stairs, which can be dangerous for children if they walk up and down alone.

Split-Level Houses: A Vintage Flair

Buying a home nowadays has become more complicated. Prices and mortgage rates are increasing, leaving many buyers to reduce their budget or exit the market entirely. One affordable option for first-time buyers is the split-level house. This home gives a vintage feel with privacy among the floors. Use this pros and cons guide before deciding whether to purchase one of these houses.

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