Build The Home That's Right For You: Duplex Homes

Home School Building 101

Many homebuyers start their search for a new place with a wish list. Putting these parameters on paper help guide their choice of home style, model, and community.

After young families and downsizers prioritize what they want and need, many decide on a duplex.

This describes a home that shares a wall with another home.

Also known as paired and semi-detached homes, these options offer a hard-to-find combination of beauty, function, affordability, and limited requirements for upkeep.

Here’s a look at some of the considerations drawing people toward duplexes:

Same square footage, less money

In many ways, duplexes look and feel like single-family homes. Walking through a single-family show home and then a duplex show home, it’s sometimes impossible to tell the difference.

In fact, many home builders base their duplexes on successful single-family designs.

The difference, and a key factor in their appeal, is the purchase price.

Duplexes are often times $30,000 less than single-family homes of a similar size and level of finish. For young families, or people wanting to make the most of their retirement years, that difference goes a long way.

Downsizers can spend more on sunny vacations and trying new restaurants, while young families may put the difference into a savings account.

In some cases, the cost of a duplex is only slightly more money than a townhome. However, the amount you pay per month is similar because duplexes don’t require condo fees.

Lower maintenance

Starting every winter morning shovelling the sidewalk outside your large single-family home can take a toll.

This daily commitment becomes a strain on both your time and, of course, your back.

Duplexes lighten the load. With a smaller lot size, your walk can be snow-free in half the time.

There’s a similar perk in summer months, helping scratch mowing the lawn — and yard care, as a whole — off your to-do list a lot quicker.


Retired people sometimes spend several weeks, if not months, away from their home in the winter.

That’s a long time not to have eyes on it.

Being attached to another home means an added layer of security. Your direct neighbour will be able to see anything out of the ordinary and act accordingly.


Do you enjoy planting carrots, lettuce and tomatoes in your own garden?

In many multi-family developments, that’s a no-go.

Most duplexes offer the ability to plant a garden in both the front and back yard.

Without the restrictions of a condo board, you have much more flexibility.

Want to put a handmade ‘welcome’ sign on your front porch? Give the front exterior of your home a pop by painting your door a different colour?

In a duplex, that’s your call.


For some young families, grandparents are an important support system.

If not for childcare, they may need care, themselves — making it equally important to have them close by.

That leads to multi-generational households with upwards of six people under the same roof.

Sometimes this isn’t ideal, with privacy becoming an issue.

Duplexes can be the perfect balance, putting family right next door, but with the shared wall serving as a buffer.

Supplement your income

If extended family is not a consideration, people who buy both sides of a duplex may use the other half for a rental tenant. This helps offset mortgage payments.

To that end, in some new communities, secondary suites are now allowed. As another investment option, talk to your builder’s representative in the community you’re considering about the opportunity to develop a secondary suite in the basement of your duplex.

Secondary suites resemble an apartment, with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and laundry area on the same level.


Buying pre-construction through a new home builder can help you fit the model to your living arrangement.

Downsizers may walk through a duplex show home and love everything about it other than its three-bedroom orientation. In their eyes, two bedrooms, ideal for children, could end up being wasted space.

Some builders have duplex floor plans that can be adjusted to accommodate two master bedrooms instead.

A layout with two master bedrooms is not typically available in conventional single-family homes. For downsizers, the second master may make sense as a guest room or home office.

Ask your builder about the ability to revise your floor plan if it doesn’t match what you’re looking for.

Some have other pre-planned options available for duplexes, such as converting one of the two secondary bedrooms into a loft, or shifting a centrally-located kitchen to the back of the main floor.