Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Something Different - Introducing the Split Level

This might sound odd, but I’ve always wanted to renovate a split-level home.  Weird, right? After all, the lowly split level has been the least desirable home style for decades.  Ask any realtor, they often hear ‘show me anything but a split level’. 

Introducing our new project - a split level built in 1949

Once incredibly popular, the style somehow fell out of favor….. but I’m not sure why.  It does a great job of separating public areas of the house from private areas (aka bedrooms).  And it seems like everything is just a few steps away.  So why don’t people want them?   I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Do you love or hate split-levels?

 

There are several styles of split levels.  Side split, back split, standard split and stacked split.  These all are based on where the entry door is located and how many levels the house has.  There is also the split foyer home, which is often considered a split level – but is characterized by an entry that leads directly to a landing, taking you either upstairs or downstairs. 

 

Split levels were wildly popular in the 50’s and 60’s.  They were economical to build and provided lots of living space for a limited budget.  


Our new project house was built in 1949 – so it was a bit ahead of its time.  It would be considered a Stacked Split, with a door next to the garage at the ground level.  It's stacked, because there are 4 different levels, one atop the other (and the 5th level is the walkup attic).  



One of the key benefits of a split level is the ability to build on a challenging lot.  And this lot fits the bill!   See how much it slopes up on the right side?

Like much of the rugged Maine coast, this lot is tucked into a wall of ‘ledge’ – the granite rock that’s part of our landscape.  The 20 foot tall wall of ledge cascades right to the back of the house and even extends into part of the basement.  Creating two different levels of foundation for this split level was probably a huge plus for the original builder - because you have to blast granite, you can't simply dig it out.  And it certainly makes for an interesting backyard!  


But the real reason I’ve always wanted to renovate a split level?  They’re known to be a challenge and that just made it seem like something interesting to try. The homeowners (that’s the other thing that’s different, this isn’t my usual flip, this is a project for clients) want it to look more like a beach cottage.  So we need to add some charm!

 

Can we do it?  Well it won’t be easy – but that’s part of the fun!  Stay tuned for lots of before photos and go forward plans.  

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11 comments:

  1. Can't wait to see this one. I live in a 1984 Raised Ranch (Split Foyer).

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  2. Looking forward to seeing it!

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  3. I absolutely love a split-level for all of the reasons that you mentioned. One of my best friends lived in a standard split while we were in high school and college and I always loved that you got the feeling of a ranch-style with a basement/family room right off the garage. It made it easy to not disturb anyone and also was so great for sleepovers. With two young kids, I feel like it'd also be perfect for a playroom or guest suite.

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  4. The only thing I don't like about a split level is generally they look bad from the outside. I have seen some with over hanging roof which looks more craftsman, and that's always better.

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  5. I don't really understand why people don't like them either, they clearly have lots of living space. I love your new project house! I'm sure you will do a great job making it "beachy"!

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  6. This will be interesting! I live in a 80 year old log cabin near the water. Because of the FEMA flood plain (storm surge, not flowing water), if I ever tear this house down, I will have to raise the living areas at least 4'. And I want a garage. So I'll have a really tall garage/split first level of the building, then an even floor second level. Then a "regular" third level. I have this all planned out in my head except stairwell design. :-) Someday it may happen - got to have dreams! :-)

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    1. That sounds like a great challenge!!! Plan away!

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  7. I can't wait to see what you do with this adorable house. My grandparent's had a split level and we loved it!

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    1. There are so many nice elements of a split level! I'm hoping to build on that and add a few more.

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  8. First off, may I say you do a fabulous job with every home you touch!

    Growing up, my family lived in a split for a few years and it stuck with me. So, in 1986, my husband and I had one built and we are still in it and love it. It sits on over an acre and backs up to wetlands that are part of our acreage. Our home is almost 2100 square feet with a full basement (no crawl space, shudder!) There are no rooms over the garage and it has a front porch across the living room. You walk in the front door, into a foyer, living room to the right, straight ahead is the dining/kitchen where I asked for the wall to be removed when they were building so I could have one large room instead of 2 smaller rooms. (I guess I was a fan of the open floor plan before it was "cool"! lol) There is a slider in the dining area that leads to a "too big deck" and to the pool. Too big is what I say when it comes time to stain every few years! The kitchen leads to a 2 car garage. Back in the foyer, on the left as you enter the front door, 5 steps up lead to 3 bedrooms, an en suite full bath and a hall full bath. Past the up stairs, are 5 stairs down to a laundry room, an office, a 14'x 28' family room (we opted not to have a 4th bedroom down there) and a half bath. It could have been a full bath but it was just the two of us. Below the laundry room and office is a full 12 course basement. So, I guess what we have is a back split? Our builder liked the home so much, that after we lived in it for about a year, he offered to build us another more expensive home on another lot in the back development in exchange for our home. No thank you. We have pretty much touched every room in the house and updated thru the years. It cost 82K to build in 1986 and and recently appraised for almost 300K. It's about time splits got the recognition they deserve.

    I love a split and even though I have had both knees and a hip replaced, I don't find the stairs a problem and we hope to be able to stay in our home for as long as possible. We just need to update a bathroom to have a walk in shower instead of a bath tub...maybe this year!

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