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Townhouse vs Detached House

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

Pros and Cons of Townhomes and Detached Homes

If you are hoping to buy your first home, or upgrade from a condo to a larger home, you may be wondering whether a detached, semi-detached or townhouse is the right choice.

Financial considerations aside, each style of home has its advantages and disadvantages that may make it perfect, or not, for you and your family.

In this article, we’ll detail the pros and cons of different home types and explain what to know if you decide to purchase a townhouse vs a detached house.

What is a Townhouse?

The word townhouse (also called a townhome) refers to any primary residence of 2 floors or more, that shares at least one wall with another home.

Townhouses are distinct from semi-detached houses (also called duplexes) because each townhouse is individually owned. And while rowhouses are always configured in a row, as the name suggests, townhouse developments are not confined to a specific layout.

Townhouse vs. Condo

The biggest difference between a townhouse and a condo is in the type of ownership it offers.

In a condominium, the buyer owns the space inside the walls of the apartment or other type of multi-unit development but owns nothing outside of that. All the exterior space, including walls, roof and land, is owned by the development or management company.

When you purchase a townhouse, you own the interior and exterior of the home as well as the land it sits on. While some common areas and roads may be managed by a homeowner’s association, the homeowner will be responsible for maintaining the property outside and in.

Townhouse Pros and Cons

When deciding whether a townhome is right for you consider these pros and cons:

Pros of a Townhouse:

  • Lower cost. Usually, it costs less to buy a townhome than to buy a single detached home of roughly the same size depending on location and finish. One advantage of buying a new construction townhome is that the purchase price is locked in when the contract is signed.

  • Shared expenses. Townhouse residents typically share the cost of maintaining the common areas of the development such as lawns, picnic areas, playgrounds, gardens or pools.

  • Shared amenities. Many townhouse developments have outdoor pools, community rooms, playgrounds, other leisure areas and visitor parking which can be used by all residents.

  • Community. People living in townhomes have a vested interest in maintaining their neighbourhood, so there tends to be a greater sense of community.

  • HOAs. Homeowners’ Associations largely govern the communal spaces and the exteriors. Any exterior maintenance work conducted for the general good of the development goes through the HOA.

Cons of a Townhouse:

  • Privacy. Townhouses share common walls and roofs, which means that there will be some noise transferred between the homes. Likewise, while there may be small private backyards available, the outdoor areas of the development are largely shared.

  • HOAs. Homeowners are expected to pay HOA dues every month, as well as participate in board meetings as members, secretaries, treasurers and so on. HOAs will step in when conflicts arise concerning the HOA bylaws.

What is a Detached Home?

A detached home is a single-family house that is located on its own plot of land. Because they tend to take up more space, detached homes are often situated away from the denser parts of the city. Although neighbourhoods consisting of this type of home may occasionally have a Homeowners Association, this is less typical than with townhouse developments and condos.

Detached Home Pros and Cons

Pros of a Detached Home:

  • Privacy. Single detached homes offer greater privacy than townhomes, since they don’t share walls with other units.

  • Sole ownership. As the owner of a detached home, you have total control over the inside and the outside of your home.

  • Expansion. If your needs change and you require a bigger home, you have the potential to build an extension on your home.

Cons of a Detached Home:

  • Higher cost. Detached homes typically come with a higher price tag, which can make home ownership more difficult for first-time buyers.

  • Maintenance. Maintaining a detached home lies entirely with the owner, so they absorb the cost of keeping both the outside and inside in good shape.

  • Location. Detached homes tend to be situated where there is more space, such as in neighbourhoods away from the downtown core. While that might sound good to many people, it could mean they are further away from shopping, schools and other necessities.

What to Look for When Buying a Townhouse

When you are buying a townhouse, there are certain things you may want to look for, depending on your personal needs and lifestyle.

These things can include:

  • Affordability. Choose a townhouse that offers good value for the purchase price.

  • A lenient HOA. Strict HOAs can be unpleasant to live with, especially if their rules don’t make sense to you. Some HOAs can be picky when it comes to following the rules to the letter.

  • Privacy. If you want more privacy, check to see how soundproof the unit is. You can also check if there is a fence or a privacy hedge around the backyard.

  • Insurance. Some HOAs may cover a portion of the insurance in case of disaster. When you are looking at buying a townhouse, consider checking what the HOAs insurance options are.

  • Covenant, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs). The CC&Rs tell you what you can and cannot do with your townhome, such as whether you can have pets or who can live on your property. While strict CC&Rs can be limiting, they can also make the development safer and boost the property value of your home.

Townhouses can be an excellent option for a first home, an investment property, a fresh start for a growing family or a cozy home for someone looking to downsize. Not only are they cost-effective, but they offer the buyer a chance to have control over their own space, without the huge maintenance costs that can be associated with single detached homes.

White Wolf Homes offers custom home building services as well as off-plan homes and also provides renovation services to homeowners in the Victoria and Saanich areas. Contact us to find out more about the homes currently available.

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