Townhome vs Duplex – What’s the Difference?
As you search for affordable home options to suit your budget, you’ll discover many different styles of homes, and the differences between them aren’t always readily apparent.
For example, a townhome and a duplex both share a wall with another unit. But what exactly is the difference between the two, and which one is the right choice for you?
We’ll break down some of the differences between these styles of homes and let you know about some other affordable options that could be the right fit for your family.
The Number Of Homes
The principal difference between duplexes and townhomes is the number of homes that are attached to each other. Townhomes tend to be a row of attached houses, whereas a duplex is only two homes sharing one wall. Naturally, this means that unless you purchase a townhome that’s on the end of a row (which are often a bit more expensive than the ones in the middle because they’re considered premium), you’ll be sharing walls with two neighbours. In a duplex, you’ll only ever be sharing with one.
Traditional Detached Look vs. Sleek Shared Exterior
Townhomes have a distinct look, which is why some people refer to them as “row houses.” The homes in a given row will all be designed in the same style, keeping them looking classic and picturesque. Most of the time, there’s a driveway or garage in the back to preserve the quaint style of the front.
Duplex homes, on the other hand, look more like a traditional detached home. Many have the front attached garages people love for their convenience. At first glance, a duplex home may even look like a large single-family home, but when you look closer, you’ll see there are separate entryways one either side of the building.
Subtle Interior Differences
Modern townhomes and duplexes have very similar floorplans to traditional single-family homes. The main living area is on the first floor, and usually includes a kitchen, living room, and dining area. The bedrooms are on the second floor. Typically, there’s a master suite with a walk-in closet and attached ensuite, then another full bathroom that’s shared by those in the secondary bedrooms.
Some duplex floor plans might even include an extra den or formal dining room on the first floor or a family room/flex room on the second floor. In many cases, you can also opt to add extra living space by finishing the basement.
The biggest difference between a townhome and a duplex is that townhome styles tend to be rectangular in shape, while duplex homes may be a bit wider with a shape nearer to a square.
Sharing Walls With Your Neighbours
As previously mentioned, with either home style you’ll share at least one wall with your neighbour. Modern building techniques prevent sound from travelling through the walls, and, with your own yard space, they feel just as private as detached homes.
Duplexes and townhomes are also a great way to keep your family connected. More and more people are choosing multigenerational living with older family members moving in once they’ve retired. In a traditional detached home, some people are opting to create a separate basement suite to give older relatives some privacy and autonomy, but with a duplex or a townhome, it’s possible to go one step further – in many cases the family lives in one side of the building and the grandparents live in the other.
Does One Cost More Than The Other?
Generally speaking, townhomes and duplexes tend to cost less than detached homes, because the cost of construction materials, especially for the exterior, is shared between the homes. Townhomes also tend to be a little more affordable than duplexes, especially in the middle of a row.
However, the cost of any brand-new home also depends on the choices you make on the inside and where you choose to live. If you include a lot of upgraded features, the cost of your townhome or duplex could start to approach the cost of a detached home without upgrades. Opting to live in a bedroom community like Spruce Grove or Stony Plain could also mean you’ll save on your overall purchase.
Townhomes and Duplexes are Great For Investors
One thing townhomes and duplexes do have in common is they’re both great choices for investment properties. Once you start looking to own multiple properties, for example, there are some great advantages.
As well as the lower cost that we mentioned, there’s also ease of maintenance – for example, if you owned three townhomes in a row or both sides of a duplex, you only need to travel to a single location to deal with any issues.
A Completely Different Option
If affordability is what you’re after, you may want to take a look at the single-family detached homes in our Evolve line. With these homes, we’ve streamlined the building process to cut costs, and we’re passing those savings on to you. Depending on the size of the home you’re looking for and the features you want, you can get an Evolve home for a price that fits your budget.
Both townhomes and duplexes are affordable solutions for those who want a comfortable home, and our Evolve homes offer affordability within the traditional detached model. You should now have a good sense of the difference between the styles, but there’s nothing quite like seeing those differences in person.
Originally published Aug 3, 2018, updated Mar 18, 2021