How Tall Is a Story – Detailed Answer

By: mahnoorrasheed | Date Posted: July 18, 2020

Have you ever wondered how tall is a story?

It is an interesting question with so many facts and answers. We see so many buildings everywhere, with different uses, styles, and heights. You see some buildings that are tall and look amazing. And you see some that are small and look sturdy. Let me tell you, there is a limit to how tall a story should be.

architecture building

Under the Eugene Code, the buildings only have to follow one rule, which is to comply with the height limit. You could build as many floors as you like if it is within the restricted height.

This rule changed a little after the SW-SAZ concept. The concept of ‘story’ is new and is also a little interesting.

According to the SW-SAZ (South Willamette Special Area Zone) concept, you would have to follow both the building’s height limit and the story limit. So the rule is, that buildings can have only ‘3 stories’ with a maximum height of 45 feet. You can build a 2-story building of 30 feet, or a 3-story building of 33 feet, it is all allowed. Or, you can just have a big one-floor house within the height limit.

What is not allowed is for you to build a 4-story building; or even a 3-story building that passes the height limit that is 45 feet. Even if you build a 4-story building, with every story being 11 feet tall, it would be 44 feet in height (which falls under the height limit) it still will not be allowed as you are breaking the story limit here.

Every story in a building is built within a different height range. The first floor mostly has a higher ceiling as compared to the 2nd and 3rd floors.

Residential House Story

The houses that were built back in the day had 8-foot ceilings but houses that are being built these days have a 9-foot ceiling. Of course, higher ceilings look beautiful and are also listed as a feature in real estate.

But, there is a limit to the ceiling height as well. A house with extra tall ceilings will look unusual and exposed. In contrast, houses with low ceilings can make it look restricted and quite claustrophobic.

8 feet- 9 feet high ceilings are perfect and give a very refined look.8 feet- 9 feet high ceiling


Here is another fact, in a residential building the floor structure can be 1 foot deep, which will result in the story being a total of 10 feet. While it can vary, the total story height should not exceed the given limit.

The height allowed for houses with sloped roofs and low-density residential development (RI) is 37 feet.


Commercial Building Story

The SW-SAZ rule for how tall a story should be of a commercial building is different. Because commercial buildings are big and crowded (almost all the time) they have tall ceilings. In commercial places, the distances between one floor and another are different than in residential places because they have to hide a lot of mechanical systems in the ceiling.

Places like movie theaters have very tall ceilings because of some considerable uses like air conditioning ducts, plumbing, and other wiring systems above the ceiling.

chairs in cinema


SW-SAZ has advised the stories of commercial buildings to have a 14-foot height. Why? Because all the commercial buildings should have enough space for the HVAC System (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning). This, in addition to concrete floors, ducts, and plumbing requires at least 24 inches between the ceiling and the next floor.

No matter how tall or low your story level is, the height limit should not pass the limited height code.

A Building Story’s Height

Not every building’s story is of the same height. The story’s height varies from 14 feet to above it. As mentioned before, several factors affect the story’s height. It also depends on where the house is and what type of house it is. Mostly, the dimensions are measured by floor to floor, instead of floor to ceiling. If that is the case, then the story’s height would be somewhere between 8 feet to 9 feet.

For example, building a lobby will always be taller than other stories above. But, you cannot make a storage/closet’s ceiling very tall as it will look like an elevator shaft.

So, the height of each story depends on the ceiling’s height and floor thickness which generally is 14 feet. But again, it varies widely.


How Tall is a Story – FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions related to how tall is a story.

  1. How tall is a 10-story building?

    Each story of any building is about 9 feet to 10 feet. So, a 10-story building will be roughly 100 feet tall.

  2. How tall is a 3-story building?

    The designated maximum height for a ‘3 story’ building is 45 feet. So each story can be 15 feet tall.

  3. How tall is a 2-story house?

    It depends. Mostly, a 2-story house ranges between 20-25 feet tall.

  4. How tall is a school building?

    A school will fall in a commercial building, every story will be 12 feet – to 15 feet tall because of the many occupants.

  5. How tall is the average building?

    1. A residential building has a height of 8 feet to 9 feet.
    2. A commercial building has a height of 9 feet to 10 feet.

  6. What is the height of a story?

    Generally, the height of a story is about 14 feet. But again, it depends on the height and floor thickness of the room.

  7. What is the average height of a single-story house?

    A single-story house mostly has a high ceiling. So it will be roughly 11 feet to 12 feet tall (slab to slab). But it will become 8 feet to 9 feet after the finished interior.

The SW-SAZ concept has given architects and builders an idea to set the height of the ceilings. With this story and height limit concept, all the buildings that are being built give a very decent look. This rule has also helped the builders in choosing a sustainable building material that they can add for the height.


I hope you now have an idea of how tall is a story.


If you found this article helpful, you can also read the articles listed below:

Building vs Buying: How to Tell What’s Best for Your Next Home

How to Design Your Dream Home: A Step-By-Step Checklist

Thank you for reading!


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