June 2008 Weddings
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What do you think of split level houses?

Does anyone own/live in one?  Has anyone owned one/lived in one in the past?

 DH and I keep on truckin with the house hunt, and prices are staying pretty stagnant, but we're looking in a semi-affluent suburb of the city.  We know we want to be there, not only is it nice its pretty much equi-distant between our two jobs. With our salaries, however (and therefore, our budget) we are having trouble finding something that's ranch or two-story that doesn't need a ton of work.  Not only do we have a baby on the way, we are just not super-handy people so we don't want to sign up for a bunch of projects.

The option that keeps presenting itself is split-levels.  And by split-levels (dont' know if I'm using it right) I mean the ones that you come in and immediately choose to go upstairs or downstairs.  DH is not a fan of the style, he doesn't think they're very efficient.  However, for the updates, 2-car garage, square footage, bedroom size, and yard size, they seem to be the most reasonably-priced houses, and they're still in good neighborhoods.

Personally, I dont' mind these types of houses.  But that's just me.  I keep hearing that first time homeowners have to be willing to make sacrifices.  But is this an okay sacrifice to make?  What say you ladies?

Oh, and Cassidy, I read your blog so I know how you feel about them Wink

"And on the keyboard, the Big D himself, Rusty Shackleford!"
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Re: What do you think of split level houses?

  • I'm with your hubby...I'm not a fan of them at all. I would probably wait to buy to avoid living in a split...I don't think that's a sacrifice I would be willing to make.

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  • The houses that you are describing in my area are referred to as bi-level instead of split level.  A split level you generally walk into an area that is at the ground level.

    Honestly, I don't mind a split level.... but I dislike a bi-level.  I don't like that you are forced to go up or down as soon as you enter a house.  I think that it makes the entry way extremely difficult to decorate and is visually unappealing.  I also have some older relatives that visit me and the immediate steps would make visits very difficult.

    Split levels on the other hand I love.  There is a 5-level split that I really wanted when we were house hunting but it was 50k over budget.  It was awesome though--- you walked in on the dining room, kitchen, great room level- up one 1/2 flight was master suite- up one more 1/2 flight was a loft and 3 bedrooms 2 baths.  From the main level down 1/2 was a rec room, down 1/2 flight was a basement with mechanicals, storage etc.  LOVED.

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  • We considered a split level (I know them as raised ranches). I generally like how the kitchen/dining/living room is open and the overall layout. However, in hindsight, I'm glad we didn't end up in one. We just wouldnt have the same storage and extra space with a full basement. Even less so with the garage usually taking up space in the lower level. It all depends on the square footage of the ones you are considering though, just something to think about. 

    Claire Elizabeth 12/31/2011
    Married Bio
  • Around here we call them splits.  I don't like them and specified 'no splits' when we were looking.  For though it's really because all the ones around here were built in the 1950s and 60s and we wanted an older home that is more reflective of the character of our area. 


  • I'm not a huge fan of the traditional split level where you have to choose up or down when you walk in the door.  That said, we live in a modified split where you actually walk in to the living room from the front door along with the kitchen and sun room, then down 3 steps to the lower level (study, bathroom, w/d, garage). You go up 8 steps to the top level (bedrooms, bathroom).

    I grew up in a 2 story and hauling laundry from 2nd floor to basement and back again was always a chore.  It is nice with the split that you don't have the same trek.

    It is also nice for my husband who has a mild form of CP and has some limitations with the amount of stairs he is comfortable climbing daily.

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  • I don't hate them, mostly because my aunt had one when raising her 4 kids and I always thought it was nice that the upstairs (which consisted of the kitchen, a small dining area, a living space, and the bedrooms) could stay fairly pristine while the kids had the run of the downstairs living space.  All of their videos, toys, etc. had a place and visitors didn't necessarily have to see that area.

    That said, I think the fact that there are so many splits in your neighborhood at low prices says something about the resale value (or simple ability to resell) and is a point that needs heavy consideration.  If you suddenly needed to move, you would be a lot better off in a house that would make quicker market moves.

    It's a tough decision!  Good luck D!

    Married in 2008 - DD born in 2010 - EDD 6.15.2012!
  • Hehe.  I call them "choose your own adventure" houses.

    BUT-all the PPs are right and all of the names are correct (seeing as I teach a class on American housing styles, figured I would clarify).  

    A bi-level is a regional term for this style house, which falls under the category of "split level".  It is also sometimes called a "raised ranch" as builders sometimes leave the downstairs completely unfinished (basement) and so the house is really a ranch, elevated enough that the basement level is almost above ground.


    But there are other kinds of split levels, as some PPs described, where you walk in and having living space on that floor, then proceed up or down half a flight of stairs from there to other spaces.  THose often look like this:


    Anyway-you are talking about the first type-and I completely understand.  In fact, there is one on the market here that DH and I SERIOUSLY considered because it had a pipe burst and needs to be completely redone (aka dirt cheap in a fabulous neighborhood on a cul de sac).  So, I would live in one for the right price, but I would definitely plan a lot of changes (including on the exterior) just because of my personal taste.

    But Star makes a good point-they are really the most universally disliked style, so they increase in value slower than other styles, and will be a bit tougher to sell. But in our area, if you want to be in the good school district for under $225K, then you are pretty much limited to a tiny house or a split level, so it is what it is.



    image image
  • Thanks Casperdy!  Choose your own adventure - I like that!

    I know there's the resale problem.  The goal is to be in the house for the next ten years or so....at least ten years.  In those ten years, sadly enough, I don't see our take home pay increasing much, if at all, between slow raises and more kids coming along.  Therefore, I don't think waiting is really going to increase our options all that much.

    Fun fact: DH and I have a dream to buy our first house, let it raise in value over the course of the ten years (so I can be vested in my pension and have my SLs paid off).  Then, we sell, go down to the lake, and buy and open our own lake resort.  So yes, I do want something that would increase in value, but I'm sort of depending on all homes increasing in value over the next ten years.  If it doesn't, well then lake resorts probably won't be a super popular option anyway.

    "And on the keyboard, the Big D himself, Rusty Shackleford!"
    Lilypie Maternity tickers
  • We had a 'no splits' rule for our realtor too. They don't seem to sell as well in our area so I was nervous about resale and like others I don't really care for the up or down decision when you walk in the door.

    Also, most of the ones that were for sale were very open, like see the kitchen sink from the door open (well, once you walked up the stairs). I like some type of segregation of rooms.

    Happiest place on Earth!
  • A lot of the houses in my area are split level houses. Both of the houses that my parents have lived in since we moved to the area 18 years ago have been split levels. I like them and wouldn't be opposed to living in one, although it wouldn't be my first choice. 
  • Not a fan.  My former BF had one, and she hated it within a few months of buying it.  Agree with PPs on the resale value, not much.  It is a starter home and will stay in the starter home range.  

    I recently looked at home values (because I'm a nerd) for my brothers and myself.  Brother 1 has owned his house 10 years.  Bad school district.  Lost $10k.  Brother 2 bought in good school district.  Tiny house, no basement.  Gone up $20k since '98.   Guess what I'm saying is location can matter more than house.  

  • The other ladies have said mostly everything... but they will be a PITA to babyproof with all of those stairs right at the door.
  • image mrsjanks:
    The other ladies have said mostly everything... but they will be a PITA to babyproof with all of those stairs right at the door.

    I never even thought of that.  VERY good point.

    "And on the keyboard, the Big D himself, Rusty Shackleford!"
    Lilypie Maternity tickers
  • We live in one. Some aspects are nice, while others completely suck. Our next house will not be a split like this.

  •  I'm not a big fan, but I live in one. I didn't want to buy one either, but after seeing 20 houses and having 2 rejected offers, beggers can't be choosers, I guess. Now, I'm fine with the style. Our lower level is just basement storage right now, but eventually, the majority of it will be finished with only a small section used for storage. We have a fully attic too, so storage won't be an issue even when we finish the basement.

    image mrsjanks:
    The other ladies have said mostly everything... but they will be a PITA to babyproof with all of those stairs right at the door.

    Not if you put a gate at the top of the stairs and keep the baby on the upper level.



    TTC #1 since July 2012

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