The Disadvantages of Split Level Houses

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Multiple stairways can be a problem for older people who live in a split level house.

Split level is a housing style that became popular in the 1960s. Floor separations were based on home activities, which allowed for less noise in sleeping areas. The basement area accommodated children's play without disrupting the patterns of other home activities. Split level homes did have some disadvantages, however, which caused them to be replaced by newer home styles.


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Split Level House

Split level homes offered a more modern home design that accommodated the growing family's needs. General home activities were focused on the middle level, with the entry, kitchen, living room and dining room. The upper level held bedrooms and either single or adjoining bath areas. The lower level provided a family room or "rumpus room" for play, games, television viewing and other family activities. This style of home afforded the maximum amount of living area without requiring a large lot area, and was cost-effective for both builders and buyers, according to AntiqueHome.


Advantages of Split Level Houses

The multi-floored design of the split level home offered good separation of family activities. Younger children could sleep undisturbed in the bedrooms on the higher level while parents could attend to meal preparation and entertaining on the middle level. Older children enjoyed a variety of activities on the lower family-room level, without having to clean up play equipment or games for meals, guest visits or other family events. Often, another bedroom was built on the lower, family-room level to accommodate young adults in the family or house guests. These features made the split level home a highly-desirable design for growing families with changing needs.


Disadvantages of Split Level Houses

Some of the very features that make the split level home design desirable also made it undesirable in other circumstances. Homeowners had to ensure that toddlers did not fall on either of the two sets of stairs. Cleaning three separate levels required a great deal of stair climbing. Older family members often had difficulty negotiating two sets of stairs to join in family activities. This also made a change in residence necessary for aging owners who could no longer climb the many stairs or do the house-cleaning of so many separate levels. Energy use is also inefficient in split level homes. Though levels are separated, they are still open, preventing the control of energy usage on unused levels.


Resurgence of Split Level Styling

Despite its problems, however, the split level home seems to be making a comeback, with some builders offering models for growing families and two-income earners, according to the "Chicago Tribune." The separated-yet-open levels makes this design a good option for those with home businesses who need a separate space but also want continued involvement in home activities.



J. Lang Wood

J. Lang Wood's stories, essays and articles have been seen in journals across the country and online. She is a published short story and essay writer who specializes in travel topics, pets, medical subjects, Florida history, environmental issues, political and business topics. She is the author of the novel "Strays" and holds an Associate of Arts in chemistry from College of DuPage.