What to Consider Before Deciding on a Duplex Home


Duplex houses have become an economical option for starting families. Apartments don’t often give you ample space for active, growing children, but at the same time, detached homes might not be affordable yet.

This real estate option is something like a middle ground, usually for families only looking to rent for some years. Eventually, you would want to construct your dream home on your ideal piece of land. But a duplex home could also be a good option as a permanent residence, especially with the cost of real estate going up over the years. If you need to fix the building in the future, the costs could be split between you and the other half’s owner. You could also conveniently find a multifamily lender. However, this is on the assumption that you would be on good terms with the other homeowner.

In any case, here are some of the things you could check out before deciding if you would want a duplex as your permanent residence.

Duplex Home

The wall division

First and foremost, check the thickness of the walls between your homes. It might look nice, but if the partition is made of thin materials, your party-loving next-door neighbor would be a curse. The same goes for your neighbor if your lifestyle is rather loud. You’d be sharing this wall for the rest of your life, so make sure you’d get enough privacy. If the walls are not to your satisfaction, you could weigh in the costs of adding to its thickness or applying some soundproofing methods.

As much as possible, know how your neighbor is using that wall. It would do you no good if they’d suddenly hammer on it, and you’ve put up your grandmother’s crystal antiques against that wall. To be safe, don’t put fragile things near your dividing wall. Your bed and lounging furniture should also be situated at the opposite wall, so if there were some disturbances, your rest would not be disrupted.

If there are connecting doors, don’t just leave them locked. Wall them up. This is especially important if the duplex you’re buying used to be an old home that’s been split.

The utility lines

Make sure your utility lines are separate from each other. It means, if one of your neighbor’s water pipes is busted, your system shouldn’t be affected. This goes the same for the heating and cooling systems, electrical connections, and maybe the internet and cable networks.

Ensure also that both units will have the same level of safety features, especially for fires. Should one half burn, the other half of the building might have damaged structural support? If you’re in a flood-prone area, check where the water flows. Conflicts could happen if the gutter drains only on your side. Or maybe the sewer system flows to your lot. Many prospective real estate buyers don’t check these things and only realize these problems when moving in.

Check what other features you’re sharing. Do you have the same driveway? How about your fence? If the fence corrodes or gets broken, who will take care of it? Would your neighbor agree to pay half for repairs?

Your neighbor

Unless they’re just renting the place, you’d be seeing your neighbor a lot. It’s impossible to find a perfect neighbor as people have different pet peeves. There are just three types of neighbors you should be wary about. Rather than be stressed in the future in a battle of who will stay or go, don’t have anything to do with them from the start.

The Party-Pooper. So you’re having fun, having a backyard barbecue with some family friends. And your neighbor calls in the cops on you, complaining there’s too much smoke from your grill, your music is too loud, or you’re laughing too much.

The Party Animal. On the other hand, a neighbor who’s having parties day in and day out is also challenging. Even if they’re not blasting their music way past midnight, people coming and going a lot right next door could be disturbing.

The Crack Head or any drug addict for that matter. You never know when they start losing it. Plus, the idea that there might be shady persons visiting your neighbor would give you anxieties every night.

On the other hand, even if your neighbors wouldn’t be perfect, you could support each other in raising children and joining social events if you establish a good relationship with them.

It would not be easy to know some of these things immediately. Ask the real estate company if you could rent temporarily before deciding to buy it. Some brokers might be stingy with this request, though, as they would get more commission if you decide you don’t like your house after all and would put it back on the market. You could ask around the neighborhood before being swayed by the sweet-talking real estate agents. Just get as much information as you could before making this major decision.