Have you ever shown a home, and climbed the full set of stairs to the second story and wondered, why did the listing agent call this a 1-1/2 story? You are not alone. Many have wondered what truly makes the difference between the two distinctions. To define a 1-1/2 story, you really need to pay attention to the roofline and upstairs windows. If the home has dormers, or gable ends that include windows, than by defenition it is a 1-1/2 story. In other words, there is a loft area, or living space between the ceiling of the first story and the roofline.
In a traditional 2 story home, you will have full 8 foot or taller walls throughout the entire floor. Ceilings may still contain details such as trey, vault or cathederal, but will not be lower at any point than 8 feet. This is not typical of the story and a half plan. Here you can expect to see sloped ceilings, many times reaching a height of four feet, or lower. The benefits to this plan can be extensive, but will typically include many areas of potential storage. Often times these areas will be accesible without stairs.
One area to consider in placing value to these types of plans is square footage. Although rather easy to calculate on a 2 story home, it is quite different on a 1-1/2 story plan.