So what is it? Two story or one and one half?

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty

Time to think.....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.

Comments (5)

Connie Smith
The Smith Group, Keller Williams Realty Success - Littleton, CO


Great post.  I run into this frequently.  Thanks for clarifying.  Connie

Jan 08, 2010 02:26 AM
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Eighteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Now is the one and a half story home the same as a split level design? I am so confused!

Jan 08, 2010 02:27 AM

A split level typically has full height ceilings on any given story, the key difference being that usually 1/2 of the house is offset by half a story from the other half. The most common arrangement I see is where one would enter the house into an entry way with a half flight of stairs up and a flight of stairs going down. Many people I have spoke with like the split for this reason: moving from the 'top' floor to the 'middle' floor is half the steps. This configuartion also lends itseld well to vaulted ceilings and large open plans.

The 1 and a 1/2 story is well described as above, also note that the ceiling of the bottom story would always be below the floor of the 1/2 story, while this is not the case in the split.


Hope this helps somewhat.

Oct 22, 2010 10:50 AM
Susan Bicknell

I have a tudor with one room with slanted wall on one side. Other rooms and 2'baths have 8' plus high ceilings. My new insurance company is calling it 1'1/2 story when the previous 20 yrs it's been called a 2 story. My rates.have doubled. How can I clarify ?

Jan 02, 2016 03:41 AM
Scott Riedel
Keller Williams Realty - Murfreesboro, TN
Real Estate Consultant


That is a great question, and sounds like your home fits the "open for interpretation" category. You may want to check with your neighborhood covenants and by-laws,  sometimes the term story is defined by them. It sounds like your insurance company has their own defenition. 

Jan 02, 2016 03:56 AM