Modern Duplex House Designs

Everything you need to know about renovating your duplex.

By Emily Southey | 4 minute read

Dec 13

Did you recently buy a duplex and are looking to update it? We outline the benefits of redesigning a duplex, along with some of the most valuable types of renovations below.

What Is a Duplex?

A duplex is a single property with multiple storeys, where each storey has its own separate entrance. Therefore, in effect, each storey of a duplex serves as a single home. Duplex units occupy the same space, which often makes them cheaper than single-family homes. Vertical duplexes are the most common and they consist of two storeys. That said, side-by-side duplexes also exist. Despite consisting of two distinct units, most duplexes are owned by one person. Sometimes the owner will rent out both units, but in most cases, they choose to live in one of the units and rent out the other. 

Why Renovate a Duplex House Plan

Duplex house plans are drawings detailing the layout of modern duplexes. They outline how the two units of living space are to be constructed, whether side by side or stacked on top of one another. Duplex plans typically detail everything from the location of the bathroom and kitchen to the location of the bedrooms. Depending on the size of the duplex, each unit may have a total of four bedrooms (two per unit), six bedrooms (three per unit), or more. Since duplexes consist of a minimum of two units, they are considered multi-family properties. If you recently purchased a duplex or are thinking about purchasing one, carefully reading the house plan is important. It will help you understand the current layout of the duplex, while also allowing you to envision any changes you might like to make to the space. As we discuss in more detail below, renovating a duplex house plan is one way to add value to your duplex. 

“Construction materials for modern duplex homes in Canada vary widely. From traditional materials like wood, steel, and concrete to new, trendy ones such as foam and cross-laminated timber.”

Renovations That May Add Value to a Duplex

If you are thinking of redesigning your duplex, it’s best to do so thoughtfully. By this, we mean choosing updates or renovations that will add significant value to your duplex. This way, not only will your duplex become a more enjoyable place to live, but you may get more money for it when you decide to sell in the future. Here is a list of renovations that are known to add value to properties. 

Kitchen remodel

Kitchens sell homes. Nice kitchens are repeatedly listed as one of the most important criteria for prospective homebuyers. Therefore, updating the kitchen in your duplex so it’s more modern and functional is one of the best investments you can make. Even minor kitchen remodels can add significant value to your duplex. Such remodels may consist of refacing cabinets, installing new countertops, adding a new sink, replacing hardware, adding new flooring, replacing old appliances with new ones (especially if they are energy-efficient), and even repainting the walls. 

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A duplex’s siding (the protective material attached to the exterior of the house) may be another worthwhile renovation. After all, old, dilapidated siding can make an otherwise modern duplex look worn out. Two of the most popular materials for duplex siding renovations are fibre-cement and vinyl, with the former typically costing more than the latter. 


Windows are an important feature of any home, so it’s no wonder that updating them can instantly modernize your duplex. When it comes to replacing your home’s window frames, you will have several options, including both vinyl and wood. Vinyl tends to be the cheaper option but both offer a return on investment. 

Deck addition

One final way to increase the value of your duplex through renovations is by adding a deck. Outdoor living spaces are more in-demand than ever before. So if your duplex has a back or front yard, consider adding an entertaining space or deck. Decks can be made out of wood or composite. The latter material usually comes with a higher price tag but may also be more durable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is renovating a duplex more expensive than just selling a duplex to buy a bigger home?

Typically, renovating a duplex will cost less than selling it and buying a bigger home. On average, the cost of remodelling or redesigning a duplex is less than buying a new property, especially a larger one or a single-family home. With the exception of homeowners looking to redesign the entire home, a few renovations, even major ones, are usually more cost-effective than selling and buying. To accurately determine whether renovating your duplex is more or less expensive than selling it, we recommend consulting with contractors in your area and obtaining a quote. Once you have an idea of which renovations you want to do and how much each will cost, you can calculate whether renovating or selling is the smartest option.

What are the most common construction materials for modern duplex homes?

Construction materials for modern duplex homes in Canada vary widely. From traditional materials like wood, steel, and concrete to new, trendy ones such as foam and cross-laminated timber, you will have many options when it comes to choosing construction materials for your duplex home. 

What are some unexpected costs that might come up when renovating a duplex?

Unexpected costs that may come up when renovating a duplex — or any property for that matter — include managing pest infestations, the discovery of mould, structural changes, and building codes. Ultimately, there are many variables that are difficult to account for when renovating. Sometimes unexpected issues arise only once the renovation process has begun. Therefore, if you are planning to renovate your duplex, be sure to have some extra room in your budget to account for any unexpected costs that come up.  

Emily Southey

Wahi Writer

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