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  • Lisa Gardener

Build Cost Basics: Is a one-and-a-half storey property better value than a two-storey?

Some self builders - and planning departments - are keen on the look of one-and-a-half or chalet/dormar bungalows, as the names imply, these properties feature rooms positioned between the ceiling of the first storey and the roofline, without full-height walls on the upper level. The second storey benefits from other dormers, rooflights or gable ends with windows.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of a one-and-a-half-story home.


  • Planners often prefer a one-and-a-half-storey design because they are less physically imposing than a two-storey building. They are often considered a better fit for rural settings or on plots among bungalows.

  • From an aesthetic standpoint, the external structure of a one-and-a-half-storey building can add character. Whether that's the greater roof-to-wall ratio, attractive dormers or a windowed gable end. So, for a one-off self build dwelling this design could make the end result more saleable.

  • The internal vaulted space upstairs offers something a little out of the ordinary, so is popular with homeowners looking to create a statement area, such as a master bedroom suite.

  • For some self builders, the idea of having a larger living space on the ground floor can be appealing.

  • Homeowners keen to avoid climbing stairs can have their master bedroom on the enlarged ground floor, with guest bedrooms upstairs for when family or friends stay over.


  • As with most loft conversions, you will have sloped ceilings on the upper storey. The walls upstairs could reach only 4ft or lower before sloping, so you need to think around the practicalities of that because headroom and storage opportunities can be compromised.

  • If you're considering a one-and-a-half-storey design over a bungalow, then be aware you'll need to make room for the staircase, which will eat into the living space downstairs.

  • With upstairs rooms positioned into the roof and fewer outside walls for windows, lighting can be reduced unless sufficient lighting is added into the roof or dormers are built.

  • The upstairs will be smaller than the ground floor. This is probably the single biggest differentiating factor between the two. When you calculate the saleable cost, you need to consider the useable area of the upper floor.


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