One of the most exciting aspects of constructing a new house is choosing the floor layout that places everything exactly where you want it. Selecting your home design is perhaps one of the biggest decisions you'll make, and it must be done with appropriate consultation with experienced professionals, bearing in mind your changing needs over time. Below are the most important things to know and consider if you intend to build a double-storey home.
1. Age of occupants
It's important to remember that no matter how young you are now, you won't always be that way. Mobility becomes a problem as you grow older, and you may not appreciate having to deal with staircases deep into your sixties or seventies.
However, this is no reason to simply throw out double-storey and settle for single-floor plans. Talk to your architect about putting the most important rooms downstairs within your easy reach. For instance, you can have the master bedroom on the ground floor and children's and guests' rooms upstairs – giving you additional privacy as an advantage. If your budget allows it, there's technology to install a lift to move between floors – you can ask the architect to make provisions for the lift so you can install it later once pressing financial matters are out of the way.
2. Block size
The amount of space you have to build a house definitely plays a huge factor on the design of your home. You want to leave adequate space to have a small backyard where children can play, or you can have a pool or plant a small vegetable or flower garden as a hobby. You won't be able to do this with single-floor plans, which occupy more ground space. Moving a few meters into the air allows you to maximize on the 'free' space above you, and do more with your property. And if you're not building a house for yourself, you can place more units within your space by expanding upwards, increasing your returns once the project is paid off.
Location is definitely important because it determines the soil conditions of your prospective home area, and by extension the amount of work needed to build a stable home on your lot. If you're still looking for a location, look at the homes built around an area to get an idea whether the lot can hold a two-floor house. You can also talk to neighbours, local council planning personnel or professional contractors to help you choose the right lot. If you already have the lot, bear in mind that different soil conditions will demand different foundational preparations for both single and double-storey houses, some more expensive than others.
A double-storied house doesn't automatically cost double the single-floor house, but it is more expensive to construct. However, the additional cost can be cancelled out by considering that you can build on a smaller lot, which is cheaper and more readily available, especially in urban settlements. For a double-storey home, the cost of constructing the top floor slab (usually high as it must be made from pure cement) can also cancel out with costs of treating the additional ground floor slab of a single-storey house if you're building on poor quality ground. By bringing in experienced structural consultants, you can reduce column lengths or the slab thickness where possible to reduce costs.