A story or storey, depending on the type of English language you use, refers to any level part of a building with a floor. The term floor refers to the level in a building. Thus, ground-level floors are either called ground floors or the first floor of a story building.

The differences in pronunciation also introduce how people view and the number of story buildings. In Europe and many parts of the world, the ground floor is given no number and is seen as the zero floors, while across North America, a different numbering pattern is used.

In the United States and Canada, the floor at ground level is generally known as the first floor and the number ‘one’ is attached to it. With these definitions, it becomes easy to see how determining the height of a two-story could be as things change from region to region. But in this post, we will provide a definite answer on the height of two-story houses for both regions.

Two story building

The Height of a Two Story House in the United States

Before going any further, now is the time to categorically state that there is no standard height for a Two-story building. It is a fact that in the early days, buildings within the 8-12 feet range with two ‘American’ floors were called story buildings. This meant that a floor may have been approximately 6 feet high and it served as a living space.

It goes without saying that a 12 feet story building will not comfortably serve today’s population. So, to know what serves as the height of the average two-story building, consulting the National Building Code of the United States or a specific country is your best bet. In the US, the standard two-story building height for residential buildings is between 18 to 20 feet. This is considered normal and comfortable as it allows for provides aesthetic space.

This means a floor could be 9 feet high while the corresponding second floor could be 10 feet. There is basically no set standard on how to divide the height of the first floor against the height of the second.

When commercial buildings are taking into account, the height of a story building increases a bit. This is because of the design, tens of air vents in commercial buildings, and the fact that a lot of people work together within commercial spaces. The height of a commercial building is approximately 10 to 12 feet high. In places such as malls or supermarkets, the height goes up even further.

The integration of vents, extensive wiring, and air conditioning equipment also means the buffer between the first and second floors may be considerable. Thus, the height of a two-story commercial building is approximately 26 – 28 feet high.

Manufacturing facilities and warehouses are another ball game as they are built to be high enough to accommodate heavy-duty trucks or equipment. In most cases, the first floor can be as high as 20 feet while the second floor retains the 9 to 12 feet range of commercial story buildings.

It is also important to note that the calculations for both commercial and domestic two-story buildings discussed here focus on only the floor height. It does not take into consideration the roof and other structures that may add to the final external height of a two-story building. With traditional roofing or more contemporary options, a two-story building may be as high as 25 feet.

The Height of a Two Story Building in Europe

Now, moving to Europe we find that a two-story building consists of three floors, a ground floor, the first floor, and the second floor. This makes three floors in total. With this in mind, it is easy to see how the height calculations defer in Europe compared to the United States.

Here again, the ground floor is generally within the 8 – 12 feet range and this also goes for the second floor. Thus, the total height of a two-story building in Europe is within the 30 feet range. In terms of floors, the height of a two-floor building is basically similar to that of the United States.

The same dynamics also apply to commercial buildings. The calculation for a two-story commercial building will take into account the height of 3 floors in Europe while the height of two floors is similar to that of two-story buildings in the United States.

Factors Affecting the Height of a Two-Story Building 

Building a two-story building or a two-floor building comes with challenges that may also affect its height. These factors include the topology of the ground where the building was built. Ventilation is also a factor many consider when building. This I because a higher ceiling provides more space for fitting longer or larger windows and air egress points.

Another factor to consider is its energy-saving properties. It is known that buildings with lower floor heights are excellent at conserving energy use, while longer floor heights lead to increased energy usage.

The available budget is another factor to be considered when building two-story houses. These considerations make construction enterprises fluctuate floor heights from one building to another. Let’s go into more detail about what affects the height of a two story house.

The First Floor Ceiling Height

How tall is a 2 story house? You must consider the height of the first floor or ground floor. Often, builders allow extra ceiling height for the ground floor, making the ceiling on the second floor about one foot shorter. This can be found in both residential and commercial buildings.

If a two story home has a 9-foot ceiling on the ground level, it will more often than not have 8-foot ceilings on the second floor. When you take these numbers and also factor in the depth, you can assume that the height of this two story home is approximately 19 feet.

The Space in the Attic

We also can’t forget attic space when determining the height of a two story home. The average attic in the US is at least seven feet, so it meets code requirements. So, when you factor in the attic space according to code requirements, the height of the two story home we mentioned earlier may actually be around 26.5 feet tall.

The Style of the Roof

Now let’s look at the roof style of the two story home. If you have a steep roof peak, you will need to raise the overall height of the home by several feet. However, if the house has a flat roof, you don’t add to the total height. However, a flat roof is not common in residential homes.

When considering the overall height of a two story home, there are some roof types that will add to the number. These include a gable roof, A-frame, gambrel roof, mansard roof, or saltbox roof.

How to Measure a 2 Story Building Height

When measuring the height of a two story building, you start measuring two feet from the home’s foundation wall to the highest point of the building. The height is measured vertically from the deck line to the tallest point. When measuring, you don’t necessarily have to include the measurements of architectural style elements like a chimney.

If the building you are measuring is on sloped ground, you will measure from the highest point to the average completed grade instead. In addition to a chimney, other building features or architectural style elements that can be excluded when calculating the overall height of a two story home include skylights,  antennas, smoke points, ventilation points, satellite dishes, and flagpoles.

What Size Ladder Do You Need for a Two Story Home?

The ladder size you need greatly depends on what exactly you need to reach and how tall your house is. For gutter maintenance or painting, you may only need a 24-foot extension ladder to reach all the areas you need to reach easily.

However, to get on top of your two story home, you may need a taller ladder. You want the ladder to extend at least three to four feet past the height you are climbing. So, in this case, you may want to consider a 28-inch extension ladder.

How Tall Can a House Be?

When determining how high a house can be, you should refer to the American Planning Association. According to them, a building can’t exceed a height of 40 feet above grade without being certified by the local fire chief. When creating your 2 story house plans in a residential area, this is important information to know.

What Is the Square Footage of a Two Story Home?

Now that you know the answer to how tall is a 2 story house, you may be wondering what the total square footage for a two story home is. A two story home that measures 25 feet by 25 feet would have approximately 625 square feet on each floor according to its house plan. So, the home appraiser could say that the total square footage of a two story home with these measurements is 1,250 square feet.


From these statistics and ample generalizations, the average height of a two-story house is within the 26 – 30 feet range for residential houses while these changes for industrial areas.

It is also worth remembering the importance of utilities in determining the height of a two-story house. You can use it as a reference point when writing or discussing two-story buildings but when building, the recommendations of an architect should be followed.

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