Typical Split-Level House Layouts

split level house with two stories on left and one on right

The layout of a split-level house may differ from model to model, but there is a typical pattern. A split-level house differs from a basic two- or three-story house in that a split-level home is usually built to conform to the surrounding geography. Split-level homes are often built into hills with a portion of their frame underground. Besides that, there are several layout features that all split-level houses share.

Typical Layouts of Split Level Homes: Location

As mentioned, split-level homes are commonly seen built into hills. Their design is advantageous with this type of geography, but they are not always built in such a location. Split-level homes are found on flat ground as well.


One of the defining features of a split-level home is the position of its garage. Garages are not separate structures in split-level homes; rather, they are a part of the design of the house. The bottom floor of a split-level home is even with the garage. Thus, the door from the garage leads into the downstairs area and is directly below the main floor of the house.


A split-level home does not have a basement, per se. Whereas the lowest level of a home is considered a basement in other homes, in a split level home, the lowest level is even with the garage, usually with a door between the two. The lower level of a split-level home often contains a laundry room, den, and perhaps another bedroom and bathroom in addition to the garage. It is not a typical basement because the front end of the home is often above ground, while the sides and back may be partially buried.

split level house with garage entrance

Upper Level

The upper level of a split-level home usually houses the kitchen, two to three bedrooms, and one or more bathrooms. Upstairs you will also find the main living room and the dining room. Depending on the landscaping and geography, the rear of the home may look like a one-story house from the backyard. This is the case if the house is built into a hill.

Staggered Levels

Another common split-level design is the use of staggered levels. The lowest level will evenly connect the garage with the den, laundry room, and additional rooms. The main level will usually contain the kitchen, living, and dining rooms. Split-level homes that stagger the levels may have a third level with several bedrooms and two or more bathrooms.


Split-level homes built into hills will have landscaping that differs from homes built in flat locations. Typically, the backyard is at a higher elevation than the front. Whereas from the front, the home will obviously consist of two stories, from the rear, it may only look to have one story. As the ground slopes down towards the street, the levels open up and reveal themselves.

These are typical features of split-level homes. Many homes of this nature have unique features that make them far from ordinary, although split-level homes almost always incorporate some version of these designs.