What is a Duplex House? Types, Pros and Cons

Last Updated on June 12, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

A duplex house is a type of housing in which two separate dwellings are built on a single parcel of land. It is similar to a single-family house, except that two units are connected side by side or one above the other.

Duplexes can be found in both urban and suburban areas, and they are becoming increasingly popular as a housing option.

Definition of a Duplex House

duplex house

A duplex house is typically a two-story building with two separate units connected side by side, but there are also variations in the design such as multi-level duplexes.

The two units may be arranged for separate entry from the outside or one may enter through the other.

Typically, the two units are owned by the same person or entity and may be rented out or used for other purposes such as a vacation home.

The Increasing Popularity of Duplexes as a Housing Option

As the housing market becomes more expensive, duplexes are becoming an increasingly attractive option for people looking for affordable housing.

Duplexes offer a unique combination of affordability, security, and convenience, allowing homeowners to have the best of both worlds.

Additionally, duplexes offer flexibility for homeowners who may want to use one of the units as an investment property or for additional living space.

The flexibility of duplexes also makes them attractive for homeowners looking to downsize or those who are looking for multi-generational living. Many duplexes offer more space than traditional single-family homes, which can be an advantage for families who need extra space.

Types of Duplex Houses

1. Side-by-side duplex

Side-by-side duplexes provide a great investment opportunity for property owners. This type of duplex has two units that share a common wall horizontally, giving each unit its own unique separation from the other. Each of the two units has its own separate entrance, allowing for separate and individual living spaces.

A side-by-side duplex provides many advantages to both the property owner and the tenants. For example, the two units can be rented out separately, allowing the owner to generate a steady income.

Additionally, many side-by-side duplexes feature two-story units, which means that one of the units can have a second floor, while the other remains on the ground floor. This allows for more privacy and space for tenants.

Side-by-side duplexes are often found in larger cities, but can also be built in smaller towns and suburbs. Construction of these buildings is often more affordable than traditional single-family homes and their smaller size makes them easier to maintain. They also provide an excellent opportunity for property owners to realize a strong return on investment.

2. Stacked duplex

A stacked duplex is a great choice for property owners who want to maximize their rental income. These duplexes feature two units that are stacked one on top of the other, with each unit having its own entrance. Depending on the property, the two units may have separate entrances, or a shared entrance.

Stacked duplexes have a number of advantages for both renters and property owners. For tenants, they offer the convenience of having two separate units in one building, as well as the potential for more individual privacy. For property owners, a stacked duplex offers the opportunity to generate higher revenues than a traditional single-family home due to the ability to rent out both units.

These duplexes are typically found in larger cities and urban areas, as well as some smaller towns and suburbs. They are generally easy to construct and maintain, and their smaller size makes them more affordable than traditional single-family homes. Additionally, a stacked duplex offers a great opportunity for property owners to realize a strong return on investment.

3. Detached duplex

A detached duplex is an ideal home for those who want to rent out one unit and live in the other. With two separate units on the same property, you can enjoy the benefits of extra living space, without the hassle of a sharing home with a stranger. Plus, you’ll get the added security of having another person on the property.

The units of a detached duplex can be connected by a breezeway or garage, which adds convenience for both tenants. This allows you to easily access both units and makes it easy to move things between them. Additionally, it also helps to keep one unit more private from the other, providing more privacy and security.

Overall, a detached duplex is an excellent choice for those looking for two separate living spaces on the same property. It provides flexibility, privacy, and security, making it an ideal option for renters and homeowners alike.

Advantages of Duplex Houses

duplex house 1


Duplex homes offer a range of advantages over single-family homes. They are more affordable than many single-family homes, as they require only one plot of land and one building. The cost of building materials for a duplex is typically lower than for a single-family home, making them more affordable for first-time home buyers.

Another advantage of duplexes is the potential for rental income. A duplex can be split into two separate living units, which can be rented out for additional income. This can provide a steady source of additional income for homeowners, which can help with mortgage payments or other costs associated with the home.

Duplexes also offer more living space than single-family homes of the same size. They are typically larger than single-family homes, and can include two separate kitchens and bathrooms, as well as two separate living areas. This extra space can be used for entertaining, as well as providing more room for a growing family.


Duplex homes offer more privacy than traditional apartments, as each of the two living units are separate and self-contained. This means that there are no shared walls or living spaces, providing more privacy for occupants. The separate living spaces also provide more soundproofing than traditional apartments, reducing noise from other occupants.

Additionally, the two separate units mean that each occupant can have their own separate entrance, with no need to access common areas in order to enter the building. This means that occupants can come and go as they please, without worrying about disturbing other occupants.

Finally, the separate living units of a duplex offer more flexibility in terms of home design. Occupants can choose to customize the design of each unit, creating individual living spaces that reflect their individual personalities and lifestyles. This is much harder to do in traditional apartments, where occupants usually have to abide by standard designs and layouts.

Multi-generational living

Duplex homes are ideal for multi-generational living, as they provide more space and privacy for families wishing to live close to each other while maintaining separate living spaces. The separate units of the duplex allow family members to have their own private living spaces, as well as the ability to entertain or host guests. With two separate kitchens and bathrooms, family members can have their own separate spaces for preparing meals and carrying out daily activities.

Additionally, living in a duplex can make living arrangements more flexible for families. For example, one unit could be used for the parents, while the other can be used for their children or grandchildren. The separate living spaces also provide more privacy for family members who may need to work from home, or for those who want to enjoy more personal time in their own space.

Living in a duplex also provides more flexibility in terms of home design. Occupants can customize each unit to their own tastes and needs, creating unique living spaces that reflect their individual personalities and lifestyles. This can be particularly helpful for multi-generational living arrangements, where each unit can be tailored to the needs of the different generations living in the home.

Investment opportunity

Duplexes can be a great investment opportunity for real estate investors. Since they are composed of two separate units, the ability to generate rental income is significantly increased as compared to a single-family home. The two units can be rented out separately, or potentially combined into one larger unit. Additionally, duplexes are typically located in desirable areas, making them attractive to potential renters.

Furthermore, duplexes tend to appreciate in value over time, making them a sound long-term investment. As these properties are typically in high-demand, they tend to retain their value better than other types of real estate. Furthermore, investors can benefit from the tax advantages associated with owning income-producing properties.

Finally, duplexes are often less expensive than other income-producing properties, making them an accessible option for investors of all budgets. As such, they provide an opportunity for investors to grow their real estate portfolio with minimal costs.

Disadvantages of Duplex Houses

Limited outdoor space

In addition, due to the close proximity of the two units, there is less privacy, as the walls may be thin or windows may be close together. Noise from neighboring tenants may also be a factor.

Furthermore, the two sides of the duplex may be owned by different people, making it difficult to forecast the future of the property.

The owner of one side, for example, may not be as inclined to take care of the property as the other owner, creating an imbalance in the upkeep. This can lead to further issues down the road.

The size of the bedrooms and bathrooms may also be smaller than those found in single-family homes, making it less desirable for larger families.

Lastly, duplexes tend to attract renters, which may not be ideal for those looking to settle down in the long-term.

Shared responsibilities

Owners of a duplex home may need to share the costs of maintenance and repairs between them. This can be especially difficult if the two sides of the duplex are owned by different people.

Not only can it be difficult to agree on who should pay for repairs, it can be difficult to coordinate the repairs and schedule them around the tenants. This can cause major issues with tenants if repairs are done while they are living in the home.

Furthermore, if one side of the duplex is not taken care of as well as the other, this can lead to a disparity in the costs, making it difficult to split costs evenly.

This can be especially problematic if the two sides of the duplex are owned by different people. If this is the case, it is important to have a clear contract outlining each party’s responsibilities.

Potential for noise

Duplexes can be particularly noisy due to the fact that the two sides of the home are connected. Tenants living on either side of the duplex can often hear each other through the shared walls and floors.

This can be especially problematic for those who are sensitive to noise or are looking for a more peaceful living environment.

Furthermore, if there are tenants living on one side of the duplex and the other is owned by an investor or landlord, it may be difficult to enforce noise regulations, as the owner may not be present to address the issue.

To reduce the potential for noise, it is important for tenants and landlords to agree to rules and regulations regarding noise levels and hours of operation.

Additionally, it may be beneficial to invest in soundproofing materials to further reduce the noise levels between the two sides of the duplex.

Financing and Ownership Options for Duplex Houses

Traditional mortgage

Traditional mortgage loans offer an attractive option for those looking to finance a duplex. With a conventional mortgage loan, the borrowers credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and other financial factors are used to determine the loan amount and interest rate.

These mortgages are available from most major banks and lenders and can be used to finance both sides of the duplex.

FHA loans

For those looking to purchase a duplex as a primary residence, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offers loans specifically for owner-occupied units.

These loans, which are insured by the FHA, require a smaller down payment than conventional mortgages and offer more relaxed credit requirements.

This makes them a great option for first-time home buyers or those who may not qualify for traditional mortgages.

House hacking

House hacking is a popular option for those looking to purchase a duplex. This involves buying a duplex and living in one unit while renting out the other to offset the mortgage costs. This strategy can be used to create a passive income stream, while at the same time, living in a home of your own.

When financing a duplex, it is important to consider all of the options available and to choose the one that best suits your financial needs. Both traditional mortgages and FHA loans can be great options, and house hacking can be an effective way to reduce the costs associated with owning a duplex.

Considerations When Buying a Duplex House


When considering a location for your duplex house, you should factor in the availability of amenities, schools, and public transportation.

Make sure you are close enough to shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, and other essential services.

You should also consider the distance to schools and universities, as well as the accessibility of public transportation such as buses, subways, and trains.

This will help you to make sure that your home is situated in an area that is convenient for daily life.

Property condition

When assessing the condition of a duplex house, you should pay attention to the condition of the roof, foundation, windows, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems.

Be sure to check for signs of water damage and inspect the interior and exterior of the property. You should also look at the overall structural integrity of the building to ensure that it is sound and able to withstand the elements.

Additionally, it is important to consider any potential repair costs that you may incur in the future. Make sure to budget for the cost of any repairs that may be needed before making an offer on the property.

Rental income potential

When evaluating potential rental income for a duplex house, you should investigate the current rental rates in the area and compare them to similar properties.

Research can be done online, through rental comparison websites, or by talking to local landlords or real estate agents.

Doing this will help you get an idea of how much you can expect to charge for rent and the potential return on investment for the property.

You should also consider any additional costs that may come with being a landlord such as property taxes, maintenance fees, and insurance premiums. Having an accurate understanding of these costs will help you determine if the investment is worthwhile.


In conclusion, duplex houses offer a range of benefits as affordable and versatile housing option. While the cost of purchasing and maintaining a duplex can be higher than that of a single-family home or apartment, it may be an ideal solution for those who value having two separate living units. Further, local market conditions should always be taken into account when deciding which property type is best for you.


What is a duplex house?

A duplex house is a residential building that includes two separate dwellings that are connected side-by-side or above and below one another, typically sharing a common wall. The upper and lower units are usually mirror images of each other and may be either connected at the interior or exterior.

What are the advantages of living in a duplex house?

There are many advantages to living in a duplex house. One of the most common advantages is that it allows for more living space at a lower cost than renting or buying a single family home. Additionally, duplex houses typically feature shared walls, making it easier to keep utility costs down. Finally, depending on the design of the house, duplexes can also offer additional privacy and security than traditional apartment buildings.

What is the difference between a duplex and a single family home?

The main difference between a duplex and a single family home is that a duplex is a two-unit building, while a single family home is a one-unit building. In addition, duplexes typically share common walls, whereas single family homes do not.

Is it possible to rent out a duplex?

Yes, it is possible to rent out a duplex, either as one unit or as two separate units. Many owners of duplexes choose to rent out the upper and lower units as separate apartments, allowing them to receive income from both.