What Is a Split-Level House? [Full Guide for 2024]


What is a split-level house? You’ve probably seen quite a few examples without realizing it while looking through real estate listings.

So in this article, we will discuss what split houses are, the different types that exist, and whether or not they make a good investment.

Let’s begin!

What Is a Split-Level House?

A split-level house, as the name implies, is a house that is divided into many sections. They are a type of home that has two or more levels not connected by an internal staircase. The levels are usually separated by a few steps, and the lower level is typically set back from the main level. Usually, the levels divide the house into three sections – basement, main floor, and bedrooms. A split-level home was first introduced in the United States in the 1950s and became popular in the 60s and 70s since they were seen as an affordable option for people who were moving to the suburbs.

Split Level vs Bi-level House

When looking for a split-level house, many confuse them with bi-level houses. Some are taken aback when they go to see a house they think is split-level when in reality it’s a bi-level house. That’s why it’s important to differentiate between the two types before making your decision.

  • Split-Level

These houses have multiple levels (at least three). You enter the house on the ground level where the dining room and the kitchen are usually located. Then you’ll notice that there are stairs that go down (usually they lead to the basement) and stairs that go up (usually to the bedrooms). This is the most typical example of a split house, although such houses may have more than three levels.

  • Bi-Level

Now that we have given the definition of a split-level house, it’s important to understand what a bi-level house is. A bi-level house has only two levels and that’s it. You can see the levels from the outside and the entranceway gives you access to both levels of the house. The main difference between the two is that a bi-level has all of its living space on one level. Bi-level houses come in very different styles, but the most common is the ranch-style home.

DID YOU KNOW: Another type that potential buyers mistake for split houses in the multi-family home. Because one sort of multi-family dwelling is a duplex, it’s easy to overlook the important distinction between a split home and a multi-family house. Even if two homes are built as a duplex, each has its own entrance.

 Types of Split Level Houses

While the three-level type is the most common, these houses can reach up to six levels. Split houses come in all shapes and sizes; let’s see what other common types there are:

Standard Split House

The standard split house is the most common type that you will see on the market. It is also the cheapest type to build. You enter the house on the middle floor where the kitchen, dining room, and living room are often located. This kind of split-level home has two short staircases – one leading upstairs and the other leading to the lower level of the house. The upstairs level usually accommodates the bedrooms and bathrooms of the house. The basement is located on the lowest level and is typically used as extra living space, storage area, laundry room, home office, or gym, whatever you need. In many standard split houses, the basement level is connected to an attached garage.

Side Split House

Another of the many types of split-level homes is the side-split. A side split is a house where every single level is visible from the outside. A side-split house may be divided into two sides. One side of the house, usually known as the main level, consists of a kitchen and a living room, while the other side of the house contains two levels built one on top of the other. Both levels are connected to the main level by stairs. The upper level of the side split consists of bedrooms and bathrooms, while the lower level on the side consists of a furnished basement and a garage underneath.

Back Split House

Split-level houses known as a back split are basically side-split houses rotated by 90 degrees. In a back-split house, the levels are visible only at the back of the house. The front shows only one single level.

Stacked Split House

A stacked split-level house is the biggest type. This type of house has at least four floors which are all connected by one main stairway. You could even think of the stacked split house as a side-slip house with one important difference – it has another level built above the main level.

DID YOU KNOW: The most common characteristics of these types of houses are a low-pitched roof, asymmetrical facade, and bay windows.

 Key Takeaways

A split house is a house divided into many sections.
One important difference between split houses and bi-level houses is that the latter has just two floors.
If you want to know what a split-level house look like, the first thing to look for is the levels; it will have three or more.
There are several types of split houses: side-split, back-split, and standard split being among the most common ones.

Are Split Level Homes a Good Investment?

Many wonder whether split houses are a good investment. That’s why it’s important to know the pros and cons that come with buying these homes.


Here are the following pros of split houses:

  • Affordability

If you’re looking for a more affordable home, split-level homes may be a good option. Because at the moment they are seen as outdated types of houses, you can get them for a great price. Also, they are very similar to single-family homes, which can be quite expensive when compared to split-level houses. Being much more affordable, they make great homes for growing families.

  • Privacy and More Room

The fact that the bedrooms are completely separated from the other rooms allows the members of the household more privacy than if they were living on one floor. One of the split-level house characteristics is that these homes allow the space in the house to be separated so that the noise is brought down to a minimum. Split houses often have more living space than other types of homes, which can be appealing for families or those who like to entertain.

  • Plenty of Outdoor Space

If you’re looking for a house with a yard, a split house may be a good option. Different types of split-level homes often have more outdoor space than other types of houses, since their layout uses up less space. The yard of a split-level house often has room for a barbeque or even a swimming pool.


Now here are a few cons of split houses:

  • Can Be Difficult to Furnish

One disadvantage of split houses is that they can be difficult to find furniture for. Split houses often have odd angles and staircases, making it difficult to find furnishings that fit your space. Not everyone likes the split-level design. If you’re someone who prefers a more traditional layout, a split house may not be right for you.

  • Can Be Difficult to Sell

Another disadvantage of split houses is that they can be difficult to sell. If you’re thinking about selling your house, you may have a hard time finding a buyer, since many find the split-level architectural style to be outdated.

  • Difficult Maintenance

Split-level houses often require more effort to maintain than other types of homes. Consider that you will have to walk up and downstairs a lot, which can make cleaning much more difficult. If you’re not someone who is willing to put in the extra work, a split house may not be the right choice for you.

DID YOU KNOW: If you are considering buying a split-level home, you should always look for a reliable home-buying site to make sure the house is equipped with a good home security system and has a home warranty


Hopefully, this article has helped you to navigate between the many types of split-level houses. They are a great option for those looking for an affordable and spacious home. Just make sure you consider all the pros and cons of a split level house before you make a final decision!


Are split level homes cheaper?

Split-level homes are not necessarily cheaper. However, they can be more affordable because they often require fewer materials and labor to construct. Additionally, split homes tend to be smaller than regular houses, which can also help you save on construction costs.

Who invented the split level house?

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style was the first to make use of split levels to allow the members of one household to all remain in one house, yet not be bothered by the others. This type of housing was very popular in the United States in the 1940s and in Australia in the 1950s. Split-level houses reached the height of popularity in the 1960s as a more affordable alternative to traditional homes.

What is the purpose of a split level house?

The purpose of a split-level house is to offer more living space while taking up as little ground as possible. Additionally, split houses can be customized to your liking. If you’re looking for an affordable home with plenty of room, a split-level house may be a good option for you.

What kind of split level house do I have?

You can typically identify a split house by its unique exterior. Split houses often have two levels of living space, with the upper level being smaller than the lower level. The split is usually visible from the front, but in some cases, it can only be seen from the back of the house. These tips can help you understand what is a split level house and which type of house you have.


As challenging as she looks, Kristina loves to question things. Her analytical skills give us a fresh look at markets, products and services and her experience as a real estate agent keeps our related topics up to par.

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