Bi-level house vs. split-level house: What to know

In this article:

One fun thing about house hunting is checking out many different styles of homes that might suit you and your family. Two popular types of houses include split-level and bi-level houses. It’s easy to get these two houses confused, but each style of home offers a different layout and living experience. The primary difference between the two homes is that a bi-level home is a single level home, whereas a split-story home has multiple stories. 

What is a bi-level house?

While bi-level houses and split-level houses seem similar at first glance, you can actually spot the difference between these two home styles as soon as you walk through the front door. Bi-level houses typically have two floors, and you access them by the same front door. Once you enter the house through the front door, you stand in an entryway and can choose to go up or down the stairs to the floor of your choice. 

Pros

  • Affordable housing option
  • Provides more privacy for families
  • Often feature finished basements
  • Very spacious
  • Can have a separate garage
  • Less expensive than split-level homes

Cons

  • Large families can quickly outgrow this style of home
  • Can be difficult to sell
  • People can get tired of going up and down the stairs

What is a split-level house?

Similar to a bi-level house, when you enter a split-level house you do so through one door that guides you to three different levels of the home. You can take a flight of stairs to reach the different levels. You can usually spot a split-level home from the outside thanks to its noticeably staggered appearance. 

A typical split-level home has living areas on the lower level of the home and bedrooms on the upper levels. Split-level homes can also be divided up in a way that works well for multiple-family homes. All residents share an entryway, but each resident or family living in the home can have privacy on their individual level of the home. 

There are a few different styles of split-level homes:

  • Side split: This is the most traditional style of split-level home, with the living spaces and bedrooms separated by half-stairs or half-walls. 
  • Back split: A back split home appears normal from the front, but in the back you can clearly see the different levels of the home. 
  • Standard split: In a standard split, there is a ground level entrance and a split staircase that leads to each level of the home, making it a good layout for multiple-family homes. 
  • Stacked split: Usually, a stacked split-level home has at least three levels, but it can have more. This is another great layout for multiple-family homes. The entrance of a stacked split style home looks similar to that of a condo complex or a duplex. 

Here are the advantages and disadvantages to living in a split-level house.

Pros

  • Multiple residents can live in the home in non-family units
  • Makes good use of limited lot space
  • Ideal for building a home on hillsides and slopes
  • Visual appeal and a retro style that is popular

Cons

  • Must level the land significantly in order to build
  • Each level has a different staircase
  • May have to use a short set of stairs on the exterior of the home to enter it
  • Usually only has attached garages
  • Rare to have an open floor plan 

How much do split-level and bi-level homes cost?

Both split-level houses and bi-level houses cost less on average than traditional single family homes as they both tend to have smaller lot sizes than traditional homes. Bi-level houses are the cheapest option since they have fewer floors than split-level houses (split-levels usually have three levels, whereas bi-level houses are single level homes). Because of this, bi-level houses are a great affordable option for families.

The average price for a bi-level or split-level home is usually in the $115,000 to $200,000 range, but prices can vary greatly based on the size of the home, the condition of the home, and the location. 

Learn whether it's cheaper to build or buy a house

Differences between bi-level and split-level houses 

Even though split-level and bi-level houses share some similarities, it’s important to understand the differences between these two types of homes as technically a bi-level home is a one-story home and a split story home is a multi-story home.

Bi-level house Split-level house
One story separated by stairs Multiple stories separated by stairs
Finished basements are common Half-exposed basements have limited light
Attached or separate garage Attached garages
Larger lots Space conscious on small lots
Taller roofs Low-pitched or flat roofs

One of the best ways to fully understand the differences — as well as advantages and disadvantages — to split-level and bi-level homes before buying one is to tour each style of home. That way, you can get a sense for how you like the unique layout of the home, learn how you would navigate the home during your daily life, and see if it provides the space you need for your family. 

You can also ask a Realtor or agent to share their experiences with each style of home, especially if you don’t think the home will be your forever home and you may want to resell it soon. Your Realtor can give you an idea of which style of home is likely to have a higher resale value as well — an important consideration. 

Don’t navigate the market alone

Our Home Advisors are experienced local agents who know how to sell for top dollar and help win your dream home.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

How much can I make selling my home?

Use our home sale calculator to estimate your net proceeds.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Closing Fees
$0
$0
$0
$0
Other Costs to Consider
$0
Orchard can help you avoid overpaying additional selling and moving costs
$0
$0
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Estimated Net Proceeds
$0
Home Sale Price
$0
Total Cost to Sell
$0
Get my free valuation
Orchard is 30% more accurate than the rest.

Don’t navigate the market alone

Our Home Advisors are experienced local agents who know how to sell for top dollar and help win your dream home.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Closing Fees
$0
$0
$0
$0
Other Costs to Consider
$0
Orchard can help you avoid overpaying additional selling and moving costs
$0
$0
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Estimated Net Proceeds
$0
Home Sale Price
$0
Total Cost to Sell
$0
Get my free valuation
Orchard is 30% more accurate than the rest.

Let’s match you with a real estate agent

All Orchard Home Advisors are experienced agents who know your local market inside and out. Request a consult today.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Closing Fees
$0
$0
$0
$0
Other Costs to Consider
$0
Orchard can help you avoid overpaying additional selling and moving costs
$0
$0
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Estimated Net Proceeds
$0
Home Sale Price
$0
Total Cost to Sell
$0
Get my free valuation
Orchard is 30% more accurate than the rest.

Close faster with a cash offer

Did you know cash offers are 4x more likely to be chosen by a seller? Let us help you make one on your next home.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Closing Fees
$0
$0
$0
$0
Other Costs to Consider
$0
Orchard can help you avoid overpaying additional selling and moving costs
$0
$0
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Estimated Net Proceeds
$0
Home Sale Price
$0
Total Cost to Sell
$0
Get my free valuation
Orchard is 30% more accurate than the rest.

Find out what your home is really worth

Orchard’s home value estimates are 30% more accurate than our competitors.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Closing Fees
$0
$0
$0
$0
Other Costs to Consider
$0
Orchard can help you avoid overpaying additional selling and moving costs
$0
$0
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Estimated Net Proceeds
$0
Home Sale Price
$0
Total Cost to Sell
$0
Get my free valuation
Orchard is 30% more accurate than the rest.

Curious what your monthly mortgage payment would be?

Orchard Home Loans shops the market to find your best rates.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Closing Fees
$0
$0
$0
$0
Other Costs to Consider
$0
Orchard can help you avoid overpaying additional selling and moving costs
$0
$0
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Estimated Net Proceeds
$0
Home Sale Price
$0
Total Cost to Sell
$0
Get my free valuation
Orchard is 30% more accurate than the rest.

Stand out to sellers with a cash offer

A cash offer is 4x more likely to be chosen by a seller. Get qualified today.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Closing Fees
$0
$0
$0
$0
Other Costs to Consider
$0
Orchard can help you avoid overpaying additional selling and moving costs
$0
$0
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Estimated Net Proceeds
$0
Home Sale Price
$0
Total Cost to Sell
$0
Get my free valuation
Orchard is 30% more accurate than the rest.

Don’t miss out on your dream home

Make a cash offer now, and Orchard will sell your old home after you move.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Closing Fees
$0
$0
$0
$0
Other Costs to Consider
$0
Orchard can help you avoid overpaying additional selling and moving costs
$0
$0
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Estimated Net Proceeds
$0
Home Sale Price
$0
Total Cost to Sell
$0
Get my free valuation
Orchard is 30% more accurate than the rest.

Your dream home is waiting for you

Tell us your must-haves to see personalized home recommendations that meet your criteria.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Closing Fees
$0
$0
$0
$0
Other Costs to Consider
$0
Orchard can help you avoid overpaying additional selling and moving costs
$0
$0
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Estimated Net Proceeds
$0
Home Sale Price
$0
Total Cost to Sell
$0
Get my free valuation
Orchard is 30% more accurate than the rest.

The stress-free way to buy and sell

With Orchard, secure your dream home before you list. Avoid home showings, rentals, and double moves.

Learn More