What Is a Duplex? Everything You Need to Know

23/07/2020 . By Champion Homes

You’ve surely heard the term duplex before, most likely during your property search. But what is a duplex, and what are its advantages? 

If you’re interested in learning more about duplex buildings, we’ve got you covered. Here we’ll discuss what duplexes are, their features, and their benefits. 

What Is a Duplex? 

A duplex is a residential building containing two homes (commonly referred to as “units”) that share a common central wall. The units can be arranged side by side or stacked on top of each other. Regardless of their arrangement, the units usually have separate entrances, driveways, and gardens, as well as the features you’d find in a freestanding house (kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, living spaces, etc). Each home or unit is lived in by different residents and has its own mailing address. 

A duplex should not be confused with a twin home, however. While twin homes are essentially half-homes on their own respective lot, duplexes are properties on a single lot. Moreover, you can also have duplexes with different owners and shared lot ownership. 

Duplex vs. Apartment: What’s the Difference? 

There are three main differences between a duplex and an apartment. 

First, the property structure. A duplex is a multi-family building that comprises two separate units found within the same structure. On the other hand, an apartment is a unit located in a residential complex among other units. In a duplex building, the two units share only one common wall, while most apartments have neighbouring units on either side. 

Second, the ownership. Generally, a duplex is owned by one person and both units are rented out. The landlord/owner of the duplex may live elsewhere and rent both units.

However, in some cases, the owner of a duplex might choose to live in one unit and rent out the other. This is a particularly attractive proposition for new landlords, as the extra income from the rented unit can go towards paying the mortgage. Some duplexes are owned by two separate owners, one for each unit.

Third, there’s the size of the unit. Duplex units are typically larger than apartments, which makes them ideal for families of 4+ people. 

Types of Duplexes 

As discussed above, duplex buildings are available in different configurations. The most popular duplex type is the single-storey duplex, which has both units built on one level and separated by a vertical centre wall. The entrances to both units can be side by side or on opposite sides of the building. 

Two-storey duplexes are becoming increasingly popular, too. Unlike single-storey ones, two-storey duplexes consist of two separate two-storey units/homes that share a common centre wall that reaches through both storeys. The structure of each unit also tends to be slightly different, with the kitchen and living areas located on the bottom floor and the bedrooms and bathroom(s) on the upper floor. 

There is also a third type of duplex, namely the stacked duplex, where the two units are positioned on top of each other. With stacked duplexes, the common wall dividing the two units is one unit’s ceiling and the other unit’s floor. 

Benefits of Duplexes 

Wondering what are the advantages of duplex buildings? Keep reading to find out. 

1. Earn Rental Income 

Need help with your mortgage? Want to get started as a landlord? Then a duplex is the perfect solution. 

Duplex buildings generally create equity fairly quickly, but the amounts will vary from situation to situation. 

You can choose to rent out each unit. Alternatively, you can rent out just one unit and live in the other, which would still give you an ongoing return. 

Duplexes are no doubt excellent if you’re looking to generate rental income, and you’ve got different options to do so depending on your circumstances and ambitions. Duplex properties get even more interest from potential tenants if they’re located in convenient or more affordable areas of the city, such as near bus/metro stations, schools or shops.

2. More Privacy Compared to an Apartment 

Another benefit of a duplex house is that you only have one adjoining owner as opposed to hordes of neighbours, which is the case with apartments. 

This also means that you get more security since you’re separated from your neighbour by a shared wall only. At the same time, you get all the privacy you need since each unit has a separate entrance, driveway and garden. 

If you like the idea of living close to your relatives without living “in each other’s pockets”, then a duplex is the ideal solution. You can live in a duplex unit while your relatives live in the other, so you’re always together without invading one another’s privacy. 

3. Duplexes Are Affordable 

Duplex properties are usually more affordable when compared to freestanding homes in the same neighbourhood. Most duplexes are located in affordable areas of the city as well, which means you’ll find it less financially straining to buy a home. Not to mention that duplexes have the added benefit of generating rental income from renting the other unit of the property, which makes them even more cost-friendly. 

Even if you’re looking for a place to rent only, a unit in a duplex rental property will be much cheaper compared to, say, a single-family home. 

4. Positive Reselling Value 

Duplexes make attractive real estate investments. Because of Australia’s thriving rental market, you’ll find many investors are interested in purchasing your duplex once you’ve decided to sell it. The improvements you’ve made to the property, as well as its location and age, will make a big impact on its resale value.

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