Purchasing a ½ Duplex
What is a ½ Duplex? A ½ Duplex is one house with two separate homes, either built side-by-side (sharing a wall and the roof) or one on top of the other (sharing the roof). The size of the lot typically determines the orientation of the Duplex, meaning, a wide lot with significant frontage to the street will have side by side ½ Duplexes, whereas a lot that is long and narrow will have the ½ Duplexes stacked, or will build a front and back ½ Duplex. ½ Duplexes are also known as “Two Family Dwellings”.
Each ½ Duplex requires it’s own front door and, in most circumstances, parking - whether in a garage or dedicated spot in a driveway. Typically, ½ Duplexes are built to be of similar sizes with the same materials. ½ Duplexes are built so that each unit has their own building components (i.e. hot water tank, heating, electrical panel, etc.), meaning that the ½ Duplexes only share the roof, building exterior and common yard or driveways. Usually, each ½ Duplex owner maintains his own windows. Because of this separation, and the desire to create separate (yet adjoining) homes, Duplexes are non-conforming Strata, meaning that the owners do not have to have monthly meetings, or report their financials like typical Strata (multiple dwelling) owners do. Instead, once the common elements need repair or maintenance, the owners of each 1/2 Duplex develop their maintenance and financial plan on their own. A ½ Duplex will have the status of Freehold Strata as the property has been split, but generally will not have fees like a condo.
Purchasing a ½ duplex home is similar to a single detached home as far as doing all your due diligence in searching Title, etc. The difference lies in that you are sharing a common roof and/or wall with your neighbour. You will have to share the building insurance, as insurance companies will not split this policy. You will then have to buy a separate policy for your own contents, where your choice of a different insurance company is fine.
The advantage of buying a Duplex home is that it is usually less expensive than a single family home.