Saturday, March 24, 2012

Types of Houses

Have been getting a lot of emails recently on the different types of housing available in Canada and what the different terms like, 'basement apartment' and 'semi-detached' mean.

Well, at first we were totally confused too. So here is an explanation of sorts....I think there is an old post on this too...but anyway...will write about it again.

First you have the 'Detached House'. This is a house that is completely separate from the other homes around and has no common wall. You have space on all sides, your own little lawn in front with a driveway and garage, and a lawn behind with some walking space on the two sides. Don't be fooled though. Just because a house is detached, it doesn't mean that it is bigger than the semi-detached or townhouse. Always check the square footage of the actual living space and not just the lot size. (Plot size)

This is a detached house

This house has the top floor, ground floor and the basement which is the floor below ground. All houses have basements unless specified. The basement is where most homes have their washer/dryer unit, the hot water unit and heating unit. Some families rent out their basement as an added form of income. You should check your area for permits regarding this. 

The semi-detached home is basically two houses together with a common wall in-between. Normally these are slightly cheaper than the detached homes, but it really depends on the amenities, square footage, location and upgrades for the final pricing. 

Here you notice that the two garage doors are painted differently and each house has a door number on top with the front door on each side of the garage. The back will have two separate lawns, but the front driveways are together and the owners park their cars on their own driveway without bothering the neighbor.

Next you have a 'Townhouse'. Townhouses are rows of houses together. Normally these houses are priced cheaper than the semi-detached and the detached homes. Some Townhouses are built in communities with common playgrounds and swimming pools. For this a 'fee' may have to be paid every month by all owners for the upkeep of the common facilities.

These are Town houses. Each door that you see is a separate house with one garage parking and one driveway parking. There are no spaces in between the houses, unless you are on one of the ends and normally those homes have the advantage of having a side lawn and of course may be a little more expensive than the other homes in the same row.

IMPORTANT: When it comes to Townhouses, there are two kinds. Condominium and Freehold. 

Condominium is where one owns the interior of the unit, and also a specified share of the undivided interest of the remainder of the building and land known as common elements. There is normally an association that is paid a fee by all owners of the condominium town houses, which goes for amenities like snow removal, replacing of roofs and re-painting of garage doors. Check the fine print as each Condominium will differ. These homes are often referred to as Condos.

Freehold is where you exclusively own the dwelling and land and pay no fees for any amenities. As an owner, you take care of your house like a semi-detached or detached home owner. 

Basement Apartments (normally on rent. You cannot buy a separate basement apartment as the space belongs to the owner of the entire house) are normally rented out by home owners who need the added income or have no use for the added space in their home, like an elderly couple who have adult children who now live elsewhere. These are rented out to families on budgets, new immigrants and college students who share these rental spaces. 

This is a basement space. The way it will look and how many bedrooms etc it will have completely depends on the home owner and how they have planned their basement. Most have a separate door leading from the side of the main house to the basement downstairs. Normally the rent includes electricity, water and gas. Some owners provide cable t.v as well. You should also have a space on the driveway to park your car included in the rent. 

Apartments in Canada refer to the buildings with a number of floors and units on each floor that are rented out. A Superintendent normally manages the building for the owner or owners. These are normally one bedroom or two bedroom.

Condominiums also refer to units in a building that are owned by you which you in turn can rent out if you want. These are either one, two or three bedrooms although commonly condos and apartments are one or two bedroom.

High rises are normally buildings with 6 or more floors and have elevators. Building with less than 6 floors may be called Low rises, and they may or may not have elevators. There will often be a common fee that is paid by all owners (and sometimes tenants if it is not included in the rent) to pay for the upkeep of common areas and facilities. Some condos or apartment buildings have tennis courts, a gym, party room and/or pool. 

These are condos / apartments in Toronto

A Duplex refers to a home that has two different living spaces, normally one on top of the other. A Triplex refers to a home that is divided into three separate living units. Can be a detached, semi or Townhouse..where they owner may live in one section.

Hope this helps you understand the Canadian housing terms to some extent. Thanks for reading!!!!


MKarthik said...


The information was really useful. Although such information are freely available on websites, the way you have elaborated makes a lot of difference in our understanding.


Vetrimagal said...

A lovely blog to read and learn about Canada.
Thanks for sharing.