The Vancouver housing market provides a lot of challenges and opportunities for us all. In this post, we break down the basics as well as some valuable and insightful considerations if you are thinking of buying or building a duplex.
What is a duplex?
A duplex is a residential property with two dwellings that share a roof and are divided by a wall system. Each side is a completely separate home with its own entrance(s), parking, yard and amenities.
Sometimes a duplex can be under one land title, meaning both halves have the same owner(s); however, often the two homes have been subdivided into two separate titles and each residence has a unique owner.
The three typical configurations of duplexes in Vancouver are: side-by-side, up-and-down or front-and-back.
Why are duplexes so popular with homebuyers in Vancouver?
More and more Vancouverites are choosing to purchase a half-duplex rather than a single-family home, townhouse, condo or apartment based on a number or important drivers.
Affordability – For many years now, there has been little to no real estate inventory of single-family homes in Vancouver between $1-$2 million dollars. Duplexes are a perfect option to provide reasonable living space (1,500 – 2,300 sq ft) for couples and families that want of 3-4 bedrooms and a potential mortgage helper via a legal suite.
Availability – 99% of Vancouver’ residential properties fall into RS zoning; allows for the construction of single-family homes. In pursuit of gentle densification, in the fall of 2018 the City of Vancouver (COV) amended the RS zoning by-law to allow for the construction of duplexes on these properties as well. Over the course of the past few years, the percentage duplex building permit submissions to the COV has steadily increased year-over-year generating a modest growth of this product option for Vancouver homebuyers.
Lifestyle – Duplexes generally offer a traditional floor plan. Bedrooms on the top floor or basement, multiple bathrooms and living spaces on the primary level. In addition, they typically provide some outdoor yard space and parking. These lovely features allow owners to feel like they have a detached home. In addition, duplex residents have less noise and interference then other multi-family residence types; as they have just one other couple or family verse many.
Location – Development of duplexes in our lovely urban neighbourhoods (IE. Cedar Cottage, Mount Pleasant, Fraserhood, Grandview-Woodlawn, or Commercial Drive) have extensive amenities within walking distance. Conveniences include: schools, parks, coffee shops, corner stores, shopping and transit.
Freedom – Typically, owners of duplex residences only have one neighbour to work with to address overall property maintenance. Duplexes may be non-compliant with the Strata Property Act. Hence, potentially avoiding requirements like strata fees, council meetings, by-laws, rules.
Benefits Of Building a Duplex
- Often, the property has added value over a single-family home
- Allows for multi-generational family living
- Provides rental opportunities as the City of Vancouver (COV) may allow for one or two legal suites in the duplex.
- Great option for retired people to down-size
- Permits stratification so an owner can sell one or both units as an investment generator
- Streamlines the building permitting process with the City of Vancouver (COV) because you can apply for one building permit to develop two residences.
Cost considerations of Building a Duplex
- Reduced soft cost savings per residence (permits, reports, drawings, city fees…)
- Increased construction costs to supply requirements of each home. For example: appliances, millwork, countertops, plumbing fixtures, lighting…
May We Help You?
Through the past 15+ years, our Averra Developments team has successfully built and delivered dozens of duplexes for clients to move into. In addition, we build for select investors and ourselves; to sell on the real estate market. Pillars of our work has always been on constructing well designed high-quality homes, on-time through a clearly defined schedule and on budget.
We have experience converting single-family homes into duplexes as well new construction duplexes and ones that are also NetZero certified.
Duplexes that are NetZero certified are more energy efficient, offer additional comfort to homeowners and currently the City of Vancouver grants additional FSR (Floor space ratio) for homes that meet this designation. Hence, making your home more valuable.
If you own a Vancouver property and would like explore redeveloping it into duplex, we’d love to hear from you. Please complete our Contact Us form and indicate that you are a Potential Client.
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