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Duplex vs. Single-Family Home: What's the difference and which one should I invest in?

“Always pick your yard based on your Summer lifetstyle.”


April 15, 2019 - Karl Yeh

"So the difference would be a duplex is where you've got two homes side by side, that are adjoined by one single wall. And then a single family home as a standalone home that doesn't adjoin any other homes."

Wondering what type of home you should buy - duplex or single-family home? What are the differences? In this episode, we discuss whether a duplex or a single family home is right for you. We explore the cost and home value as well as why it seems builders are currently focused on building duplexes. 


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Hi everyone. Karl here and welcome to another Homebuyer School video, a channel where you get the latest strategies, tactics, and tips from home buying experts. And remember this is your first time on this channel and you want to get the latest strategies from the experts, hit the subscription button below, hit the little notification bell so you don't miss anything.

Karl Yeh:                      

[00:00:30] Today I'm joined by Jessica McNabb, Area Manager with Brookfield Residential. And the question we're going to answer is:

What is the difference between a single family home and a duplex?

So I guess the first thing is what makes a house a duplex?

Jessica McNabb:          

So the difference would be a duplex is where you've got two homes side by side, that are adjoined by one single wall. And then a single family home as a standalone home that doesn't adjoin any other homes.

Karl Yeh:                      

So are duplexes worth more than a single family home?

Jessica McNabb:          

They could be. A duplex could be worth more.

Sometimes [00:01:00] a duplex will have a double garage, whereas the single family home might be sitting on a smaller lot and might be a little bit smaller.

Karl Yeh:                      

Are duplexes becoming more popular? Because I'm seeing a lot more.

Jessica McNabb:          


Historically, in this last probably three to five years, they've become more popular and that's simply because for the square footage of the home, you can get in a duplex it can be bigger than a single family and your backyard space is significantly bigger.

Usually with a single family that would be comparable in price to a duplex, [00:01:30] you'll have little to no backyard and the garage will actually sit in the back and be detached from the home.

Karl Yeh:                      

So do you mean with a duplex, you get a bigger yard?

Jessica McNabb:           Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Karl Yeh:                      

But you're sharing it with somebody else, right? Or are the actual yards split between you and your neighbor?

Jessica McNabb:          


Each of the yards will still be split. You'll still do a fence line between you and the neighbor, so you still get your own backyard.

But it typically does have more space because the garage sits in the front underneath the rest of the house.

Karl Yeh:                      

So do you think[00:02:00], 

What are some of the reasons why you think builders are going towards a lot more duplexes?

Jessica McNabb:          

So it is more efficient to build the duplex. You have two units coming up side by side at the very same time and it's more cost effective. And then for the buyer, you do get more square footage, you get more land value. So it's a win win situation.

Karl Yeh:                      

But I think one of the cons would be is that, from a single family home is that you're right beside, I guess, your neighbor, right?

Jessica McNabb:           Right.

Karl Yeh:                      

Would you say the privacy isn't as much as a single family home?

Jessica McNabb:          

That is a thought that a lot of people [00:02:30] do have as a first time buyer coming through.

But when you're looking at, let's say our single family show home and walking through a duplex show home, you actually can't tell the difference.

The shared wall actually is above code and soundproofing and fireproofing.

So the adjoining wall has really come a long way.

And then in terms of the size of the home for a duplex, you actually get more bang for your buck. You get bigger square footage.



Karl Yeh:                      

Now why do you get bigger square footage for a duplex? Because one would think that if you're living in a duplex, you get less square footage [00:03:00] than living in a single family home.

Jessica McNabb:          

So for the builder it's more efficient and more cost effective to build the duplex. So in turn they can put more square footage.

Karl Yeh:                      

Multiple, yeah. Do you have anything else to add in terms of the differences between a single family and a duplex?

Jessica McNabb:          

Well, with single family homes nowadays because of zero lot lines, for example, or even if you're not on a zero lot line, the houses are so close together anyways, so people don't have that worry about buying a duplex and being so close to the neighbor anymore.



Karl Yeh:                       Perfect. Perfect. [00:03:30] So the last question I have is:

Which costs more, a duplex or a single family?

Jessica McNabb:          

If you're looking at apples to apples in terms of square footage, they could be the same.

So a single family home, if you're looking at about 1400 square foot, you get a little bit smaller backyard and that will be around the $350,000 mark.

And for the duplex you're looking at about 1600 square feet and you get a significantly bigger backyard. And then you're still paying around this, $350,000-$360,000 [00:04:00] mark for the home.

Karl Yeh:                       Do you have anything else to add?

Jessica McNabb:           No, I think we covered everything.

Karl Yeh:                      

Perfect. So the question of the day I have for you is:

Does a single family home or a duplex home appeal to you and why?

Let us know in the comment section below. And remember if you enjoyed this video or found it helpful, hit the thumbs up, remember to comment and remember to subscribe. Thank you and we'll catch you next time.


Your turn:

Let us know if you have additional home buying questions that we can answer by submitting them in the comments section below. 

Homebuyer's School publishes new content weekly so subscribe or check back regularly for the latest information, strategies and tips from homebuying experts. 

About Jessica McNabb:

University of Alberta: Bachelor of Science in Registered Nursing 2011 McConnell Place North Alzheimers Care Centre 3 Years - Client Care Leader Brookfield Residential 6 Years - Area Sales Manager Sold over 200 Homes

While a career in Nursing was extremely fulfilling, I also wanted to explore a career in home sales. After 6 years of being in the New Home Sales Industry, I still feel the same sense of fulfillment through taking clients from start to finish building their home.

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