Creating a Split Level Structure

Reference Number: KB-02947
Last Modified: November 30, 2021

The information in this article applies to:

Home Designer Professional or Home Designer Architectural or Home Designer Suite


How do I create a split level floor plan?   

Cross section view of a split level structure


A split level, sometimes referred to as a bi-level or tri-level, is a building where the floor level in one part of the structure is located about halfway between the floor and ceiling levels of another part of the structure.

You can easily create a split level in Home Designer by controlling the floor and ceiling heights of different rooms in a plan.

To create a split first floor level

  1. Launch Home Designer and create a New Plan .

  2. Select Build> Wall> Exterior Wall , then click and drag to draw a simple rectangular structure.

  3. Still using the Exterior Wall  tool, draw a wall that divides the structure into two rooms.

    An example of a two room structure

  4. Click the Select Objects  button, then click in an empty space in one of the two room areas of your drawing to select it.

    In this example, the room on the left side is selected.

    Select one room in this structure

  5. Click the Open Object  edit button, and on the Structure panel of the Room Specification dialog:    

    Raise the floor height in one room

    • Raise the height of Floor (C).  In this example, this value is increased to 48".

    • Press the Tab key on your keyboard to update the dialog and notice that the Relative Ceiling heights become smaller.

    • Check the Default box next to Rough Ceiling (E) and press the Tab key to restore a full height ceiling to this room.

    • Click OK to close the dialog and apply your change.

  6. Select 3D> Create Camera View> Doll House View  to see the results so far.

    Doll house view of the split level structure

  7. The wall that divides the structure into two halves should have its exterior siding surface facing the room with the lower floor height. 

    Select the dividing wall if the exterior siding is not facing the lower room.

    • If it does not, click the Select Objects  button, then click on the wall.

    • The room will be selected first - press the Tab key or click the Select Next Object  edit button to select the wall instead.

    • With the wall selected, click the Reverse Layers  edit button.

To modify the foundation

In a split level home, part of the foundation is typically a slab or crawl space and part is full height basement - often a daylight basement.

  1. Select Build> Floor> Build Foundation  from the menu to open the Build Foundation dialog. On the Foundation panel:

    Building a walls with footings foundation

    • Uncheck Automatically Rebuild Foundation.

    • Select Walls With Footings as the Foundation Type.

    • Specify the Wall Height. In this example, a height of 24" is used. 

    • Make any other needed changes, then click OK, then OK again to close the dialog and modify the foundation on Floor 0.

  2. While still on Floor 0, create a Doll House View  to see what this foundation looks like.

    Notice that the Minimum Stem Wall height is applied to the part of the structure with the lower, default floor height. The stem walls under the area with the raised floor are taller but have the same footing height.

    Doll house view showing the generated foundation

  3. Click the Select Objects  button, then click on an inside wall surface of the foundation room, below the part of the structure with the raised floor height (in this example, the left side).

    Selecting inside one room in order to change the room structure.

  4. Click the Open Object  edit button, and on the Structure panel of the Room Specification dialog:

    We changed the rough ceiling to the full height.

    • Notice that the Stem Wall height value is equal to the Minimum Stem Wall Height that you specified in the Build Foundation dialog plus the height of the Floor of the room above.

    • Increase the Rough Ceiling value so that the room is full height.  In this example, it is raised to 109 1/8".

    • Press the Tab key and notice that the Stem Wall height increases to accommodate the new ceiling height.

    • Click OK to close the dialog and apply your change.

  5. The Floor Overview updates to show the change that you made to the room.

    The doll house view updated to show all the changes made.

  6. Select File> Close View to close the camera view and return to floor plan view.

To add a second floor

If you build an additional floor above the first floor level, bear in mind that the ceiling heights on Floor 1 will be reset to the default.

  1. Select Build> Floor> Build New Floor  from the menu.

    • Derive new 2nd floor plan from the 1st floor plan.

    • Specify the desired default Ceiling height in the Floor 2 Defaults dialog.

  2. Go Down One Floor  to Floor 1, then select the room with the raised Floor height and click the Open Object  edit button.

    • Notice that its Absolute Ceiling height has been reset to the default.

    • Check the Default box beside Rough Ceiling and click OK.

  3. Go Up One Floor  and repeat this process for the room area directly above the one you just modified.

  4. Once all floor levels are in place and the ceiling heights are specified as needed, you can modify the roof and draw interior walls.