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Why do main floor master homes cost more?

Posted by Stanton Homes Design on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 @ 10:03 AM

Homes with a Downstairs Master Bedroom Cost More:

Why would it cost more for a downstairs master, instead of a two story home? Here's 6 reasons for the difference in cost, from a North Carolina custom home builder.  New home tips for building in NC:

  • Two-story homes with a main floor master bedroom will usually have a higher per square foot cost than a two-story home with all bedrooms located on the second floor. 
  • Judging homes by the "cost per square foot" can be misleading. Instead, ask "What's included in the cost per sq ft?"

Best Questions to Ask about Main Floor Master Home Prices:

1. Why main floor master homes cost more: Where's the Sq Ft?

The differences in how square footage is distributed add to the cost of building a home. 

Given two homes of essentially the same square footage - both with three bedrooms, with the option of either a 4th bedroom or some additional living/entertaining space - the rooflines, exteriors, footprints, framing, and garage locations can all be quite different.   A main floor master home is usually more spread out, with a larger first floor, than it's equivalent second floor master home.


2. Why main floor master homes cost more: How large (and complex) is the roof?

A plan with a main floor master usually has a lot more roof.  More roof means higher costs for several reasons.


 - A steeper roof is taller, thus more framing labor and materials are needed.  But an advantage can be increased attic height and space.

 - Each time the roof line changes, more framing materials (and labor) are needed.  A higher level of expertise is required - which can also increase framing costs. 

 - There's just plain more roof when the first floor size increases.  That means higher labor and material costs for roofing.

3. Why main floor master homes cost more: What does framing have to do with home cost?

There are several reasons costs will increase, especially with this main floor master plan.

 - There is greater square footage on the first floor.  Even though the second floor is smaller, that will not compensate - all the walls must still extend upwards until they reach the roof. 

 - Any time there is an extra "corner", costs increase.  More materials are used, and more can be wasted making additional cuts for varying lengths.  More labor is required. 

- More exterior wall means more heavy-duty framing, more sealing, more insulation, and, of course, more labor.

Why main floor master homes cost more | NC Homebuilders


There's also reason a lot of builders charge extra for vaulted, cathedral, or trey ceilings!  Cathedral and vaulted ceilings can require extra beams, different framing techniques, longer than standard framing materials, and more. 

Homes with main floor master suites often have at least one vaulted room somewhere in the home, like in this master bedroom:


4. Why main floor master homes cost more: Where is your homesite, and what "tractor work" is required?

An experienced custom home builder can walk your lot to help determine expected site costs.

A larger site will need to be prepared for a main floor master home of equal square feet to a second floor master home. 

There will be slightly higher charges for grading and foundation preparation.


5. Why main floor master homes cost more: Is the foundation a slab, crawlspace, or basement?

If you don't know what type of foundation your new home will require - don't worry! The team at Stanton Homes can walk you through the differences in types of foundations, and explain what your floor plan and home site require. Why does a main floor master foundation cost more?

  • The "footprint" of the home includes not only the square footage of the "heated" or living space on the first floor, but also that of the garage. 
  • The foundation costs will higher for the plan with the first floor master bedroom, because the first floor is larger.


(Here's an example of a basement home foundation.)

6. Why main floor master homes cost more: Is the garage a side entry?

Not all main floor master bedroom floor plans have side entry garages. 

But if the home plan you choose does, the driveway and pathway costs may be slightly higher - it all depends on how the home is situated on the lot.  The home may also require a few more windows, to "dress up" the front face of the garage.


How Much More do Main Floor Master Homes Cost?

In general, a homebuyer can expect to pay about 10-20% more per square foot for a home with a main floor master suite than one that has about the same square footage on both floors. 

However, this can vary greatly - it all depends on all the different aspects of the two plans:

 - Is the lot cost the same for both homes? 

 - Do both homes have the exact same interior and exterior finishes? 

Even more important - does moving the master bedroom downstairs substantially increase the size of the first floor, while leaving a reduced size second floor?  There are home plans available in which the master bedroom is downstairs, but the plan still includes a "full" upstairs.

In a situation like this, the only way to "fit" the master bedroom downstairs is to lose some living space - the sizes of the other rooms have to shrink, and you may lose a living room or office - but have a larger bonus room upstairs. 

There won't be any vaulted rooms, but the overall square footage for the price can increase.


Tags: first floor master, first floor master suite homes, main floor master floor plans, main floor master homes, main floor master homes cost