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Last Updated on April 30, 2021

What is a Townhouse? How is a Duplex Different?

Townhomes and Duplexes (or semi-detached homes) are both multi-family housing options that can work well for families who want to save money on a home and don’t mind sharing walls.

The term townhouse is used to describe a number of different attached home styles that can really vary pretty widely from home to home. There are a number of styles of townhouses including townhomes with front driveways, townhomes with rear driveways, carriage style townhomes as well as what is sometimes referred to as row housing.

Duplexes are two dwellings joined by a party wall and can have either attached or detached garages, and often have yards that are split by fencing.

Related: Duplex (Semi-Detached Home) vs. Single Family Home: Which One’s Right For Your Family?

Townhouse vs. Duplex (Semi-Detached Home): The Key Differences:

Number of Shared Walls

Townhomes are multi-family housing complexes and can include 3, 4 or 5 units side by side, or 4 units, with 2 units being on the top floor and 2 units being on the main floor. Many units will share a wall on either side.

Duplexes only have two connected homes, so both duplex owners have half the home that isn’t attached to another, and only share one wall.

Condo Fees & Home Owners Association Fees

Can’t quite decide whether a townhome or condo is right for you? Condo fees, or HOA fees, are often a key factor for home buyers to consider.

Because there are a number of people or families living in the same structure, townhomes often include some type of governing board to oversee the operations and upkeep of the grounds and buildings.

In order to maintain things like the townhome’s roofing, grassy and landscaped areas and snow management and removal, a fee – but not always – collected. These dues are typically called condo, or HOA fees.

Duplexes, on the other hand, most commonly do not include any such fees.

Because there are fewer people involved – namely, only two homeowners, key decisions and spends such as replacing roofing are made between the two individuals and do not require a board.


Most commonly, townhomes in Edmonton will range from 1000 – 1400 sq ft, but some home builders, like us, also offer some large duplex home models, ranging up to 1600 sq ft.

Duplexes, on the other hand, offer homeowners a bit more space and are usually 1200 – 1800 sq ft.


Townhomes can be priced from the high 200s to the lower 300s, so they are definitely the more economical choice when building your first home. Duplexes, on the other hand, tend to start in the mid 300s price range. 


Both Townhomes and Duplexes offer more privacy than condos, as they are still multi-level homes and there is no one above or below you.

Duplexes do offer slightly more privacy, as you are only attached to one home on one side, while townhomes are multiple homes connected to one another.

However, the difference in privacy between duplexes and townhomes is very small due to the homes still being houses rather than in apartment buildings.

Related: 7+ Surprising Tips I Wish I Knew As A First-Time Home Buyer


Are you the DIY type? If you think you’ll be the type to want to make changes to the exterior of your home such as swapping the color of paint on the exterior of your home, you may find that you have slightly more freedom in a duplex than townhome.

While the exterior styling of some duplexes may be maintained by the community’s style guidelines and governing body, there still is a possibility that you could manage some updates, assuming you can get the adjoining neighbour to agree.

Townhomes, on the other hand, do not allow for exterior cosmetic changes such as adding architectural elements or trying out a fresh new color of paint to any extent.


Is having a spacious outdoor space for the kids or furry friends to run around important to you? Perhaps you’ve got a green thumb. If having your own outdoor space is a priority, a duplex may be the right fit for you.

Townhouses usually include a small grassy area in the front or back of the home, but it usually isn’t bigger than a few feet across in each direction.

Duplexes, on the other hand, typically have a more private yard that can range from small all the way to full-sized.


Basic exterior maintenance such as shovelling the snow from the walkways and cutting the grass is up to duplex homeowners, whereas those living in townhomes usually don’t have to worry about grounds maintenance, as it’s taken care of and paid for with condo or HOA fees.

More On Buying A Home

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21+ Important Questions To Ask Your Home Builder

Lincolnberg Master Builder has been building new Edmonton homes for over 41+ years. Learn more about us, visit one of our Edmonton and area show homes or explore quick possession homes today.

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