Split level houses: why?

cdub

Cyburbian
Messages
47
Likes
0
Points
2
#21
I wonder if these houses are cheaper to construct because you don't have to frame up a second story.
Isn't that the point with most suburban developers - cheap. Add to the list of savings with less excavation required for the lower level than a traditional basement.
 

cdub

Cyburbian
Messages
47
Likes
0
Points
2
#23
^^No. Read my post above.
I've seen split levels in areas that don't require engineering adjustments. They do happen in other places, such as flat sites or gently sloping sites. Again, I do think they are built as a relationship to cost. Not it in all cases, but many.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Likes
0
Points
27
#24
If it were on a flat site, you would use this option to raise the foundation up without increasing driveway slope, so the lot would drain. This helps your dirt number, if the site is flat you cant just go raising houses up 6' above existing grade, you'll be short on dirt and then you'll need to truck it in, and that costs money.

if that makes sense.
 

iamme

Cyburbian
Messages
485
Likes
0
Points
14
#25
My guess is that this home type came about for many of the reasons listed and more. Maybe it originally began as a solution to slope issues on site or just as a cheap alternative that maximizes the living space. Maybe, just maybe, people liked their layout and aesthetics.

You'll never get a definitive answer about its origins but I do think it is a decent housing type that is a cousin to the traditional ranch. It has its place in the built environment and fills it well. Like any form of housing it has its plusses and minuses. Although I just don't like the feel of them, they fell disjointed.
 

mallen

Cyburbian
Messages
144
Likes
0
Points
6
#26
Back to your original question...spilt-levels are extremely efficient to build. You only have to construct one roof system for the whole house. Everything under it is usable square footage. As such, you get a tremendous cost-per-square-foot ratio vs. other building forms. The downstairs area next to the garage is almost "free" square footage for the home buyer.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Moderator
Messages
12,048
Likes
23
Points
33
#27
Back to your original question...spilt-levels are extremely efficient to build. You only have to construct one roof system for the whole house. Everything under it is usable square footage. As such, you get a tremendous cost-per-square-foot ratio vs. other building forms. The downstairs area next to the garage is almost "free" square footage for the home buyer.
Well...be that as it may, I still dislike the form. I don't like having living rooms in a garden level. It seems cheap. And that may really be the reason....less vertical wall area to construct, but then you get less 'general' space for storage in teh "basement".

Btw, I not really a fan of finished basements. I like the basement to be mainly for storage and mechanicals.
 

mallen

Cyburbian
Messages
144
Likes
0
Points
6
#28
I hope I didn't give the impression that I like them. Heck no. I think they're ugly-as-all-get-out (for you non-Southerners, that means really, really, ugly). :)

But the fact remains that they are quite affordable to build.
 

steel

Cyburbian
Messages
456
Likes
0
Points
14
#29
When I was a kid I thought these houses were the coolest. It seemed like all the "rich" kids lived in them. I certainly would not want one now. Of course they are mostly in the burbs and I would not live in the burbs either.... but that is just me.


I think these came about at a time when a contemporary style in housing was still popular. These houses broke with the traditional look and added a bit of visual complexity. They were a step up from the very common one story hipped roof ranch houses that were popular in the 60's. It was also at a time when basement rec rooms were popular. The split levels gave you the basement rec-room but it did not seem so remote from the rest of the house.
 
Messages
9
Likes
0
Points
0
#30
There are tons of them over here in the Pocono Mountains. Many of them are former vacation homes. I have a brand new one across the street from me and two on the next street. And people are still buying them. I particularly don't like them either. :D
 
Messages
139
Likes
0
Points
6
#31
Frost Footings!

In areas that have cold weather, houses MUST have frost footings at least four feet below grade. Excavation is one of the most expensive parts of home building. By building split level homes, you minimize the amount of excavation required for frost footing while maximizing usable/livable space.

So it's essentially a cost consideration.

As for why they exist in so many areas with warm weather... I think some people really do like the layout. It makes the upstairs and downstairs feel connected without the necessity of a large, expensive, and perhaps awkward-feeling foyer. It allows you to have a basement with actually usable space (windows, light, etc.).
 
Messages
3,838
Likes
1
Points
25
#32
I like more classic home styles better too but I don't think raised ranches are the embodiment of sprawling evil, and God knows I could use the extra space. :)
 
Messages
6,242
Likes
2
Points
26
#33
I like more classic home styles better too but I don't think raised ranches are the embodiment of sprawling evil, and God knows I could use the extra space. :)
Many of the classic Chicago Bungalow styles are very similar to the raised ranch. I don't think these are evil either, in fact I ike the Chicago Bungalo Better than my Detroit Bungalow (With most of basement below ground, and roof line parallel with the street).
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Moderator
Messages
12,048
Likes
23
Points
33
#34
Many of the classic Chicago Bungalow styles are very similar to the raised ranch. I don't think these are evil either, in fact I ike the Chicago Bungalo Better than my Detroit Bungalow (With most of basement below ground, and roof line parallel with the street).
No, a Chicago bungalow is nothing like a raised ranch.

In a Chicago bungalow, you walk up a stoop to the building entrance which is level with the main floor of the house. Then you have to descend a full flight of staris to access the basement.

In a raised ranch you generally enter into a foyer that is between the main floor and the basement level and you only have half flights to either the main level or the basement level.
 
Messages
6,242
Likes
2
Points
26
#35
True, I could have been more specific. I was referring to the hieght where the first floor begins being like a raised ranch. Sorry I was not explicit enough. :-$
 
Messages
151
Likes
0
Points
7
#36
Between the ages of 8 and 18 I lived in a split level and it didn't give much space for my remote-control cars to work with unless I pretended they were going over cliffs. :-| And to bring out the wooden plank so that the remote-control car can ascend or descend those 5 steps was a pain. ;-)
 
Messages
7
Likes
0
Points
0
#37
When I was growing up in the late 60s and 70s my family (8 kids!) moved a lot. My mother despised split-level houses, wouldn't even look at them. She claimed it was because there was not enough space for our big family. They have much less usable interior space than a similar footprint conventional center hall colonial.

The house with the doorway in the middle and up/down stairs on each side is known as a "split foyer" around this area (Northern VA). There are a zillion of them.
They were quite popular throughout the late 50s to the mid 60s, but now they're prime targets for tear down as they sit on huge lots, typically half an acre (or more) and are located in the early post-war suburbs that are attractive because of their relative proximity to downtown.
Don't forget that they already have utilities, i.e. gas and electric going to the lot! A good reason to tear down and rebuild on an existing site instead of building on greenfield.

The Brady Bunch house was a split-level house!
 
Messages
2
Likes
0
Points
0
#38
Better than McMansions

I always hated Raised Ranches until I lived in one. The town where I live was chock-full of splits when I was growing up, but now they are being razed to make way for McMansions that are arguably more cookie-cutter than the split-levels or raised ranches of the 50's-70's. The raised ranch floor plan is great for young families - especially when you want to corral the little ones on one level. If I lived in a colonial I would spend my life going up and down stairs!
 
Messages
2
Likes
0
Points
0
#40
Yes, but when all of the toys can be kept in their bedrooms it makes the living room soooo much more pleasant for grown-ups!
 
Top