Anyone looking to buy or rent a home in Canada will soon realize there are many types of houses available. Each type of house has its own unique characteristics, so you’ll want to familiarize yourself with each one before you start searching for real estate.
A detached home is one of the most popular types of houses in Canada. Detached houses exist on their own lots and don’t share any walls with other homes. In addition, most detached homes have a front yard and backyard, so they’re great for families looking for additional space.
Generally speaking, detached homes are the most expensive type of housing because they provide more square footage and increased privacy. Because of their larger footprint, maintenance costs and property taxes can be higher than with other housing types.
Types of detached houses
Bungalows are a type of detached home. They typically have minimal stairs, with most living and sleeping areas on a single floor. Some bungalows have a single flight of stairs that lead up to an additional bedroom. Many bungalows also have a basement that homeowners have renovated into a usable space. Bungalows are an older style of home that you don’t see built much anymore, as two-storey homes are now preferred.
It’s rare to see newly built split-level homes, but they’re still popular among some house hunters. This type of home typically has multiple levels. In most cases, the main level has common living areas such as the kitchen and living room. The upper level would have bedrooms, while the lower level would usually be used as a family room. Split-level homes come in many different layouts, but the most common are side split and back split.
Duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes contain two, three, and four housing units, respectively, inside a single detached property. Each unit will have its own separate entrance, and may be on a different floor. These types of houses in Canada typically have one owner, with the additional units being rented out. Sometimes there can be various owners on the title, with each homeowner occupying their own individual unit.
Depending on how the living arrangements are set up, “plex” residents may share some common elements such as parking and a yard. Although you can still find these housing units in many cities, it’s rare to see them as new builds.
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Semi-detached homes come in different sizes, but they all have one thing in common: a wall you share with another home. Semi-detached homes may also share other elements, such as a fence or driveway.
Semi-detached houses are usually cheaper than detached homes, but you give up some of your privacy for that lower cost. If the structure was built well, you might never hear your neighbour, but that’s not always the case.
Townhouses are a row of homes where each unit shares walls on both sides with their neighbours — unless you nab an end unit.
Townhouses are typically cheaper than detached and semi-detached homes because they tend to be narrower. But some luxury townhomes available these days can be pretty expensive.
Some townhouse owners have their own private backyard, while others have ground-level or rooftop patios. Each owner is responsible for the maintenance of their own individual property.
Types of townhouses
With a condominium townhouse, you’ll own your unit, but a condo corporation owns and maintains any exterior elements, such as yards, parking spaces, and shared amenities. Residents pay monthly maintenance fees that go towards the amenities and landscaping.
Condo townhomes can also have a different look than traditional townhomes. Many condo townhomes are stacked, so you might have a neighbour above or below you. Most condo townhomes still have some individual outdoor private space, such as a patio, balcony or rooftop.
A freehold townhouse is no different from a condo townhouse from a property perspective, but the ownership structure changes. You’ll own both the property and the land a freehold townhouse sits on.
You won’t pay any monthly maintenance or condo fees to a condo association, but you will be responsible for the actual upkeep of your home’s exterior spaces.
Condominiums, or condos for short, are large buildings that contain many smaller housing units. Each unit has an individual owner, but there could be many common elements such as the lobby, fitness centre, parking garage, pool or yard.
A condo corporation (also called a syndicate or strata corporation in some provinces) is required to maintain all the common elements. The corporation ensures that the building is kept running and within budget. They’ll also make recommendations when it comes to repairs and picking contractors.
As a resident, you can vote on the condo corporation’s decisions. To help pay for all the standard amenities and building maintenance, each resident pays monthly condo fees.
This category includes mobile homes, also known as trailer homes, as well as atypical dwellings like houseboats.
Even though movable houses are generally less expensive than the other housing types discussed here, securing a mortgage to pay for them can be a challenge.
A mobile home, for example, probably won’t appreciate at the same rate as detached homes or condos, and since demand for them is lower, reselling can take a while. Lenders may shy away from properties they’ll have trouble reselling in the case of foreclosure.
What homes typically cost in Canada
The cost to buy a home in Canada varies quite a bit from region to region. As of January 2023, the national average sale price was $612,204, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. But if you remove Toronto and Vancouver from the equation, the average price is closer to $500,000.
CREA’s average price includes all housing categories, so it’s not always useful when trying to figure out the average price of a particular housing type in your own community. To get an accurate idea of what home prices might be in your neck of the woods, consult Realtor.ca and do a local search for the property type you’re interested in.
Generally speaking, the following factors determine the cost of a home:
- Home type.
- Home size.
- Condition of the home.
- Supply and demand in the local market.
Home prices are really only part of the equation when you’re looking to buy. To get a sense of what you can actually afford, it’s advisable to reach out to a mortgage advisor, have them crunch some numbers and possibly pre-approve you for a mortgage.
But if you’re not ready to take that step, you can always try out a mortgage affordability calculator and see which home type best fits your budget.