Debating between detached vs. semi-detached houses? Here’s a closer look at each property type.
What are you looking for in a home? Do you have your heart set on a private backyard, plenty of indoor space, and the freedom to remodel whenever you want? If so, condo living probably isn’t for you. But depending on your financial situation, buying a single-family home (also known as a “detached house”) may not work for you, either. Fortunately, there’s another, more affordable option. We’re talking about semi-detached houses (or “semis”).
A semi offers many of the benefits of a detached home —at a significantly lower price point. In this post, we’ll compare these two attractive housing types to help you make a more informed decision.
Detached vs. semi-detached houses: what’s the difference?
First thing’s first: how is a semi different from a single-family home? Whereas the latter is a freestanding residential building, a semi is built as one of a pair. It sits directly next to its neighbour, sharing one wall.
As is the case with a detached home, buying a semi means you’re also buying the plot of land it sits on. This is worth mentioning, because it’s not always the case with side-by-side housing. Townhome owners may or may not share their plot of land with the other homeowners in their development. Often, they also share more than one wall with their neighbours (since townhomes are built in rows).
Our advice? If you’re weighing your options, be sure you know the differences between housing types. When you finally jump into the hunt, you’re bound to make a more informed decision.
For most buyers, saving money is the biggest benefit of going the semi-detached route. We’re not talking about a small chunk of change. According to recent data from the Toronto Real Estate Board, the average price for a detached home in the city is $1,311,265. For a semi, that number is $1,026,829. Unless you’re dead set on buying a single-family home, cost savings of nearly $300,000 may be worth factoring into your purchase decision.
Generally speaking, semi-detached houses are smaller than single-family homes—in terms of both indoor and outdoor space. They also tend to sit on long, narrow lots, which is often reflected in their dimensions. Keep this in mind if you’re planning on expanding your family. Also worth noting: construction costs for semis are usually lower, so buyers can often get more space for their dollar.
No comparison of detached vs. semi-detached houses would be complete without a brief discussion of noise. The truth is, a shared wall is a dealbreaker for many homebuyers—and, usually, that’s because of sound transfer. While semis with good soundproofing certainly exist, the walls in some of these homes can be thin. You may also find a gap in the separating wall toward the top of the building (in the attic). If you’re considering a particular semi and you’re sensitive to noise, be sure to ask the current owners specific questions about how the home is built and what type of soundproofing has been used.
Maintenance & repairs
One of the biggest pros associated with buying a semi is the potential to share responsibility for much of your home’s maintenance with your neighbour. If your roof is on its last legs, you may be able to pool your resources to get a good deal on a new one. If the lawn needs to be mown in both yards, you may want to consider taking turns doing the job. Sharing some of these basic responsibilities can make homeownership more cost-effective and convenient.
There are a few other considerations in the detached vs. semi-detached houses debate. Parking is one. Many semis have a shared driveway, others have a private driveway, and some don’t have one at all. Your real estate agent can narrow down your search based on your parking and transportation needs.
Potential future renovations are another important thing to consider. The freedom to update your home is one of the biggest benefits of owning a semi. That said, remember that your shared wall may limit the renovations you’re able to perform. In rare cases, home improvements can also be a source of conflict between neighbours—though serious issues can usually be avoided by establishing clear communication.
The bottom line
Whether or not a semi-detached home is right for you will come down to your budget, and your priorities. Working with an experienced and knowledgeable real estate agent will ensure that you understand your options and make the right decision.
Interested in learning more about some of the gorgeous semi-detached homes available in the city? We have the local market experience to help you find your next dream home. Get in touch—we’d love to learn more about what you’re looking for and discuss next steps!