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Duplex vs. Townhouse: Six Things to Know

Duplex Vs Townhouse Definition

In the search for a new home, you may have come across townhouses and duplexes. A duplex is best described as a multi-family property with two units side by side. In some instances, an older large home can be converted into two units. The two units are identical in the majority of cases.

A townhouse refers to a single multi-story unit that is found in a row of similar units. Townhouses are large houses that can be used for residential and commercial purposes. It is the responsibility to take care of the non-shared exterior walls of the home, the courtyard, and the roof. People all over the world searching for quality and adequately sized homes consider townhouses to be a symbol of pride. So, what are the distinguishing differences between townhouses and duplexes?

Shared Walls

Both duplexes and townhouses share walls unlike the case of detached single-family or multi-family homes. The modern-day duplexes are homes that stand side by side meaning that there is a shared wall between any two units. Duplexes will also have floor plans that are a mirror image of the adjacent home.

Townhouses are usually constructed in rows of four or more homes that are connected wall to wall. The townhouse at the end of the row will only share a wall on one side whereas a townhouse in the middle will share walls with the townhouses on every side.

Exterior Look

Duplexes have a look near similar to that of a detached family home. Some of the common features include front attached garages that make duplexes become confused for a detached single-family home. However, at a closer look to will see separate driveways at either end/side of the building.

Townhouses are referred to as row-house due to the distinct row houses look. The row of houses makes townhouses have a classic and picturesque look. The majority of the townhouses will have a driveway or garage at the back of the house to keep the charming front style.

Interior Look

There are so many things in common in the duplex vs. townhouse debate. Just like two-story detached family homes, duplexes and townhouses will have the main living room, kitchen, and dining area on the first floor. The bedrooms in the home are found on the upper floor. Some people will renovate or finish the basement to add extra living space.

The difference between townhouses and duplexes in the interior looks lies in the rectangular-shaped rooms for townhouses and wider square-shaped rooms for duplex homes.

Townhouse vs Duplex: Cost and Maintenance

Both townhomes and duplexes are the more affordable options for people looking for a new home. Townhouses are more affordable since these homes share two or more walls cutting back on the cost of building materials. Generally, the townhouses at the end of the row tend to be more expensive due to more square footage, extra windows, and bigger yard space. Townhouses will have individual maintenance requirements which means you will meet the costs involved.

Duplexes are affordable as well and are commonly referred to as twin houses. They have lower building and landscaping costs compared to detached single-family units. The property taxes payable per unit are lower compared to the taxes payable for two single-family units of similar size. Most duplex properties have a single owner which means you have one vendor list for both units cutting back on costs involved. Duplexes make good budget-friendly assets since they are affordable and you can always rent out the second unit.

According to Paradise Developments, the cost of a townhouse is determined by the location and fittings utilized for the interior. As the upgraded features increase, the cost of the townhouse or duplex will increase to match that of a detached home with no upgrades. For commercial purposes, the townhouse vs duplex discussion favors townhouses that have higher rental demand and potential since they are larger home and provide social status for tenants.

Sense of Community

Townhouses and duplexes are found within communities which means you will have neighbors. It will help if you can choose a community that has shares similar interests or has a good demographic mix. No worries about sharing a wall with your neighbor since there are effective soundproofing technologies.

Both duplexes and townhouses offer a great opportunity to keep families together. Children may live on one side whereas grandparents live on the other side. Such an arrangement allows grandchildren to interact and learn from their grandparents and in maintaining close multigenerational family ties. Children can also check on their old parents regularly and offer assistance where necessary. Each family can still enjoy a high level of autonomy.

Duplex vs Townhouse: Control and Flexibility

A comparison of control and flexibility between a duplex and townhouse favors the duplex. You have the sole control of repairs, maintenance, and rental schedule in a duplex when you own both units. With the townhouse, the association will have a set of rules and schedules that will take into account the needs and wants of your neighbors. Rental demand and control will lie with the owner in a duplex while you must get the rental approvals from the association for townhouses. Some townhouse associations enforce an owner-occupied policy ruling out the renting of units within the community.

In conclusion, modern duplexes and townhouses also have many similarities including open concept floor plans, ensuite master bedrooms, use of high-quality quartz countertops, and other exquisite design choices. They are affordable options for potential home buyers when looking for a new home. The real differences can only be appreciated following a house inspection tour to see them in person. If you are still not sure on which to settle for between a duplex and townhouse, talk to any of our real estate representatives for further information to help you make a final decision.