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What’s the Difference: Townhouse vs. Duplex

When looking for a new home, you might come across townhouses and duplexes. Both are great options for families who want to save money and don’t mind sharing walls. But what’s the difference between the two? Let’s break it down.

1. Number of Shared Walls

Townhouses are multi-family housing complexes that can include 3, 4, or 5 units in a row, or 4 units stacked with 2 units on the top floor and 2 units on the main floor. Many units will share a wall on either side.

Duplexes, on the other hand, only have two connected homes, so both duplex owners own half the home and only share one wall.

More shared walls can mean more noise and less natural light. However, this usually comes with a lower cost, especially for interior units. A well-constructed party wall can help reduce noise and smells between homes.

2. Condo Fees & Home Owners Association Fees

Townhouses often have a governing board to oversee operations and upkeep. This means you’ll likely have to pay condo or HOA fees to maintain things like roofing, landscaping, and snow removal. Many homeowners enjoy the freedom of having these things managed for them, but they can be tough to manage on a strict budget.

Duplexes, on the other hand, do not usually include any such fees. Decisions and expenses like replacing roofing are made more easily and do not require a board.

3. Size

Townhouses in Edmonton typically range from 1000 – 1400 sq ft, making them great starter homes for young families. Garage and yard space can be more limited in townhouses, but it is common to find models with at least single attached garages.

Duplexes offer more space, usually around 1200 – 1800 sq ft. Duplex homes can have single or double garages and share a divided yard with one other household.

4. Price

Townhouses can be priced from the high 200ks to the mid 300ks, making them a more economical choice for first-time homebuyers. Duplexes tend to start in the high 300ks price range. Prices depend on factors like location, lot, and garage type.

5. Privacy

Both townhouses and duplexes offer more privacy than apartment buildings and condos. Duplexes offer slightly more privacy because you are only attached to one home on one side, while townhouses are multiple homes connected to one another.

6. Exterior

If you want to make changes to the exterior of your home, you may have more freedom in a duplex than a townhouse. Townhouses usually do not allow for exterior cosmetic changes, while duplexes might allow for small changes with your neighbor’s cooperation.

7. Yard

If having outdoor space is important to you, a duplex may be a better fit. Townhouses usually have a small grassy area, while duplexes typically have a larger and more private yard.

8. Maintenance

Duplex homeowners are responsible for basic exterior maintenance, while townhouse homeowners usually don’t have to worry about grounds maintenance, as it’s taken care of and paid for with condo or HOA fees.

In conclusion, both townhouses and duplexes have their pros and cons. Consider your priorities, budget, and lifestyle when deciding which option is right for you. And don’t forget to ask your builder about any additional fees or community guidelines during your search for the perfect home.