What is a Duplex? Everything You Need to Know

Ever wondered what a duplex is and how it differs from others? Check out our informative guide to know all about it.

Ever wondered what a duplex is and how it differs from others? Check out our informative guide to know all about it.

Unless you’re an architecture enthusiast or a new homeowner, you may not have paid much attention to buildings. However, duplex buildings can be seen almost everywhere.

Did you know that almost 1 in every five households lives in either duplex or quadplex buildings? Unless you live in an apartment or a mansion, you may live in a duplex.

Duplex buildings can be an excellent choice for people looking to move into a new home. What makes these buildings an attractive option is their versatility and aesthetic appeal.

Moreover, living in a duplex can allow you to make an additional income by renting one of the units.

This guide will find out everything you want to know about duplex buildings. Furthermore, it can help you decide whether or not it is the right move.

Mount Lewis Duplex Build

What Is A Duplex?

If you’re considering moving into a new apartment but are craving the feel of a traditional house, a duplex might be the way to go. These apartment buildings are divided into two units. Typically, you may be required to share a wall with another home. So, this might be the ideal option if you like living close to other people.

Another aspect of duplex buildings is that they ideally come with a garage, an outdoor space, a patio and even a garden or backyard. These multi-family homes have two units in one building, making them an excellent investment for most people.

If you’re wondering how the units are arranged, you may be surprised to find several options. Duplex buildings may have two units side by side or be stacked on top of one another.

However, if you’re worried about privacy - don’t be. These units typically have two separate entrances for residents, so you and your neighbours or flatmates can have privacy.

Kitchen in Duplex

What Is The Difference Between A Duplex & Other Buildings?

If you think about it, several other buildings have more than one unit. You may have heard of the terms “twin home,” “triplex,” “fourplex”, and “quadplex.” Let us explain the differences between these terms to help you understand which one is better suited for your needs.

1. Duplex VS Triplex

As the name suggests, a triplex consists of three separate units attached by shared walls. Conversely, duplex buildings consist of only two units shared by a wall but typically host two different families.

However, in the case of both duplex and triplex buildings, the residents have separate patios, gardens or backyards, and parking lots.

2. Duplex VS Fourplex/Quadplex

Again, the name “fourplex” or “quadplex” tells you the building has four separate units. A typical wall and roofing structure typically join these units. However, any building with more than four or five units no longer has the ‘plex’ attached.

4. Duplex VS Twin Home

More often than not, people tend to confuse the terms “duplex” and “twin home.” The primary difference is that duplex buildings are two separate homes on one lot, while twin homes are two half-homes on their respective lots.

You may also come across duplex buildings that host two separate families but share a lot. The most common reason homeowners opt for duplex homes is that they desire a house’s look, appeal, and facilities.

However, due to high costs, they don’t necessarily wish to invest in one, making a duplex an ideal option. A single entity owns most duplex buildings, but both units are rented to separate people (or families). This gives most homeowners an excellent opportunity to make an additional income.

Happy Family in a duplex

Is A Duplex The Right Choice For You?

There are undoubtedly several advantages of living in a duplex. However, is it the right choice for you? Let us elucidate a few advantages and disadvantages of duplex buildings to help you decide whether or not it is the right move for you.

Advantages Of Living In A Duplex

1. It Is Affordable & More Cost-Effective Than Homes

Several homeowners have a fascination for living in homes compared to apartments or condos. That said, purchasing (or even renting) a home in a high-value location can be cost-prohibitive. A single-family home in a lower-value area can be more expensive than a duplex in a higher-value location.

Many homeowners opt for duplex buildings to enjoy the perks of living in a home without investing in one. The affordability of these buildings gives most new homeowners a chance to afford to live in a popular and well-established area.

2. They Have Many Benefits Of Standard Residential Homes

If you’re lured by the thought of having a private parking space, a large backyard, a beautiful patio and immense privacy - you’re not the only one. Many often seek these benefits and experiences when looking for a new home.

One of the most significant advantages of opting for a duplex is that you enjoy all these benefits without investing in a home. Nowadays, most duplex buildings offer essential features like separate garages, gardens, patios, etc.

With this, you don’t need to worry about sharing the space with neighbours (unless you want to). You can enjoy your privacy without sharing a common wall and roof with them.

3. It Gives You A Chance To Socialise

A duplex may be ideal if you consider yourself a social butterfly who loves neighbours’ presence. Most people considering moving into duplex buildings are typically aware that they need to share the building with other residents.

Of course, if you like having neighbours around, a duplex offers you an excellent chance to mingle. You can host gatherings and social events in the outdoor space, typically a part of the duplex property.

The best part is that duplex buildings allow you to socialise with your neighbours without sacrificing privacy. Many rent out one unit while giving the other space to their friends, family or relatives. This lets you stay close to your loved ones while enjoying much-needed privacy.

4. It Gives You An Additional Income

Generally, duplex buildings are owned by a single entity. If you plan on owning a duplex, you can make an additional income by renting out one (or both) of the units.

Similarly, if you wish to live in a house without investing in one, renting a single unit in a duplex building gives you the chance to enjoy this experience. You can share the cost of the building with other residents while enjoying features like an in-house washer and dryer, an outdoor space, a patio and a backyard.

Disadvantages Of Living In A Duplex

Like every coin has two sides, living in a duplex has advantages and disadvantages. Now that you are familiar with some of the benefits of living in a duplex, let us talk about a few drawbacks that you should know.

1. It Could Lead To Increased Responsibilities

More often than not, duplex buildings are privately owned. This essential factor may give you the added responsibility of gardening, snow shovelling, tidying up and caring for the yard work.

You may find hired help taking care of these tasks in the case of apartments and townhouses. However, the liability of these tasks often falls upon the residents renting out the units in a duplex. Of course, you can always hire help for these jobs, but that would increase expenditure.

2. You May Face Neighbour Troubles

Although this isn’t limited to duplex buildings, you should be prepared for unwelcoming or troublesome neighbours. You may potentially have to share a wall with boisterous, unclean, or cold neighbours, who can create an unwelcoming living experience.

Conversely, you may also end up with fantastic neighbours with whom you share an excellent rapport. There is no natural way to control this, so it is best to be aware of the potential problem and prepare for it.

West Dundas Duplex Build


For most homeowners, the potential disadvantages of duplex living are worth the risk, especially for the beautiful living space.

If you are considering moving into a duplex, we recommend researching the building, landlord and potential neighbours before moving in. Consider your needs and wants from the living space.

Setting realistic expectations and goals can help you find the ideal living space and create a comfortable home in a duplex building. Of course, it always helps to have a good landlord and welcoming neighbours.

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