What is a detached house?

In this blog we’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages of the detached, or single family home. Then, we’ll look at other types of homes available in the Guelph real estate market.

A detached house (sometimes referred to as a single family home) is the most desirable format of home in Canada. Detached houses are literally that- detached from other homes on their own lot. It doesn’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 open space.

Advantages of a detached house:

  • The most privacy, space and independence of all home styles as all outside walls belong to you
  • Because detached homes typically cost more than other types of homes, the values also appreciate faster.
  • Typically larger with more storage options
  • Do not need to consult with neighbours, common walls or condo boards in order to make changes
  • The most opportunity for renovations and expansion versus other types of homes

Disadvantages of a detached house:

  • Maintenance of a detached home is greater, especially if you have a septic and well system. (read: what is a septic tank?)
  • All costs are your own, not shared with neighbours 
  • Larger homes require more frequent cleaning
  • Prices may be higher than other types of homes
  • Some Guelph neighbourhoods of are difficult to get into a detached home due to high prices
  • Higher taxes: single family homes are generally taxed higher than other formats

Those are the main adventages and disadvantages of the detached house (or single-family home). Now, let’s look at the other types of available home options for buyers.

Bungalows

Bungalows are a type of detached, single storey home and are Ryan’s favourite! They typically have minimal stairs, with most living and sleeping areas on a single floor.  They generally have 2-3 bedrooms upstairs and a single bathroom. Above grade square footage is roughly 1000sf. Many bungalows also have a basement that homeowners have renovated into a usable space. This amount of floor space is actually quite large.

Bungalows are a popular style of home built in the 1950’s to mid 1960’s. Great examples can be found on streets such as Kensington or Hamel in Guelph. They have become increasingly popular in the past few years, as they are very versatile. Investors, downsizers, first time buyers and everyone in between could have use for a bungalow.

Sometimes bungalows have an attached garage, while other times it’s a detached garage.

Split-level

Split level homes (side split/ back split) were popular designs in the 1970’s and 1980’s in Guelph. This type of property typically has multiple levels. With a back split, once you come in the front door you’ll notice the stairs going immediately up or down in front of you. Conversly a side split has the stairs running in the opposite direction than a backsplit.

The stairs have you going up to one side and down to the other side. In most cases, the main level has common living areas such as the kitchen and living room. The upper level has bedrooms (usually 3), while the lower level would have a family room. Split-level homes come in many different layouts.

Semi-detached houses

Semi-detached homes (aka attached home) come in different styles, shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common. The main common element is a shared wall with the other half. Semi-detached homes are usually mirror image of each other on both sides of the common wall. They also have some other shared elements, such as a fence or driveway.

Semi’s are not a new format of home. In fact, this format of home has been around for a very long time. Within Guelph, you’ll find semi-detached homes built in the 1800’s, all the way up to modern day semi’s in 2021. The style is very desirable for a number of reasons:

Semi-detached houses are usually cheaper than detached homes, but more expensive than townhomes or condos. but you give up some of your privacy for that lower cost. If the structure is built well, you may never hear your neighbour. On the other hand, you may have a neighbour who’s loud all the time.

Town house or townhomes

Townhouses are row houses where each unit shares walls (aka party wall) on both sides with their neighbours. That being said, the end units share only one wall, so they’re similar to a semi-detached.

Unlike detached houses, townhouses are typically cheaper than detached and semi-detached homes. However, there are many luxury townhomes available with larger square feet. In Guelph, you can find townhomes in most parts of town but the more modern luxury models will be in South Guelph.

Some townhouse owners have their own private back yard space, while others have ground-level or rooftop patios. Each owner is responsible for the maintenance of their own individual property or plot of land.

One thing to note with townhouses, or often referred to as “townhomes” is that they can be both freehold or have a condo fee (see below for condo townhomes). You would sometimes here these as HOA fees.

Condo townhomes

Another type of residential units is a condo townhome. Condo townhomes are a great opportunity to get into the market and have your own property. These are similar to traditional freehold townhomes, but a condo corporation owns and maintains any exterior elements, such as yards, parking, shared amenities and common areas. Residents pay monthly maintenance fees that go towards the amenities and landscaping.

This style of home 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.

Condominiums

Is a condo for you? Condominiums, or condos for short, are large buildings that contain many units. Each residential building unit has an individual owner, but there could be many common elements such as the lobby, fitness centre, parking garage, swimming pool, yard, and more. Often times these amenities are on the ground floor Read: Guelph condos for sale

A condo corporation (also called a syndicate, strata corp or homeowners associations in some provinces) needs 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 association decisions. To help pay for all the standard amenities and building maintenance, each resident pays monthly condo fees. Property taxes on condos tend to be lower than a free standing home. read: property tax and what you need to know

It’s unlikely you’d find a condominium in more rural locations.

Hard Lofts

Not nearly as common as condo buildings, hard lofts are always desirable especially with young couples. This kind of home is a conversion projects of old buildings that are sometimes referred to as studio flats. They’re usually in a different area from other condos as they’re part of the older downtown. These were factories of days gone by and still have much of their original charm. This could include exposed brick, large windows, high ceilings and large wooden post and beams.

In Guelph, good examples of this would be the Stewart Mill Lofts on Cardigan St or the Lens Mill Lofts on Ontario St. These are typically prices similar to condos. Hard lofts usually have a condo corporation as well that runs the maintenance of these homes. Hard lofts can be more expensive to maintain. They are built with older materials requiring more frequent maintenance.

The main disadvantage to these is that since they were original commercial and not for residential purposes, they tend to have no yard, or a smaller yard. This makes them less ideal for families with young children.

Other options: duplexes, triplexes and larger homes

Unlike detached houses, duplexes, triplexes and larger homes are other forms of residential property. This type of common property are not a single-family house but instead contain two, three or more housing units. Each dwelling unit will have its own separate entrance, and the home may have multiple floors. Within Guelph, in residential zones only duplexes are permitted. 

Triplex and larger are not permitted unless permitted by the City or considered “non confirming legal”. This means that the property had a triplex or larger before the City established the bylaw and so it is “grandfathered” in.

Depending on how the living arrangements will be set up, you may have some common elements such as parking and a yard. Guelph has been encouraging urban density and many new builds have the option to put a legal accessory apartment in. This essentially makes the property a duplex.

In many cases, the bungalow format is common to create a duplex.

The layout is ideal as there is a side entrance to the home to use as a secondary staircase to a lower level apartment. The main level apartment would have access through the front door. Related: read our article on what is house hacking?

What is the average price of a home in Guelph?

The cost to buy a home in Guelph can vary significantly depending on a variety of factors. Home style, age, location and upgrades all play a role in property values.  For a detailed look at the costs of different styles of homes in Guelph and the K-W area, visit our brokerage website for all the latest monthly data.

Beth and Ryan Waller are Guelph real estate agents publish articles monthly for GuelphToday, which look deeper into trends related to the Guelph real estate market. If you’re house hunting, be sure to give us a call!. We can advise you on what you can reasonably afford to buy.

It’s also a good idea to talk with your bank or mortgage broker to ensure you are pre-approved. Especially in todays sellers market, it’s wise to determine how much you’re comfortable spending on a home

Related: What is the difference between holding offers and an irrevocable?

This blog is part of a series on 23 Most Common Real Estate Terms (2022)