Known as the “owners condo”, duplex downs have been popping up more and more, so we
wanted to dive into the facts of these basement dwellings. Looking at the good, the bad, and
the ugly, here are a few facts about the ever so spacious duplex down, so you as a a buyer or a
seller know what to keep an eye out for if one ever crosses your path. You can be a little more
knowledgable to ask the right questions, to ensure you either land yourself a little diamond in
the ruff or avoid a handful of issues.
The ever so spacious duplex down is a term used when a condo unit has its main entrance on
the ground floor and you have a second level below it. Typically referred to as a “finished
basement” or a “garden apartment” in a condo building, duplex downs usually have the most
space of any unit in the building, and are generally reserved initially for the builder or owner of
the building. Each is treated differently, and based on where you live, rules apply on how they
should be created and / or managed. In some areas, the square footage of a place does not
include the level below ground. Which ties into the overall price per square footage.
When finding a duplex down right for you, there is always speculation on the quality of
construction. Many duplex downs have more than one bedroom and / or bathroom below the
ground level. Some may even have a kitchen, a washer dryer, wine cellars, etc the whole
works. You want to be sure the contractor followed both safety laws and local laws when
building out the space. You want to ensure there is good draining in place and/or a sump pump
to avoid flooding on rainy days. Look around, do you see any drainage areas that may bring up
some concern? Another factor of safety is does it have clear exit from the lower level to the
street outside. Many times, thought isn’t put into the height of the ceilings as well. Usually,
below floor levels have lower ceiling heights. A great thought-out duplex down should make the
owner feel they are at home on any level, and shouldn’t be reminded they are in a “basement”.
Creating a bright atmosphere with a lot of windows and high ceilings keeps an open concept
feeling no matter which level you are on.
As an investment, a duplex down could be
a great layout for you to get double your money.
Often the lower level may have everything a tenant would need on a single floor, including a
kitchen, bath, bedroom, laundry and a door for easy access in and out of the condo. These are
gems for investors because they can possibly hold 2 individual tenants, for one overall space.
An investor many times can pick up a duplex down with just one tenant already in place. An
advantage to selling the property is when one of the tenants will have an interest in buying the
space, especially when income and tax advantages are explained to them. Its usually a great
starter property for any multi-level property investor.
It takes a lot of work and a lot of planning to property turn a basement into an apartment that
can be rented or bought. A duplex down is also a great purchase option for a single family
home so be sure to ask the right questions. How did they go around the noise level from the
street outside and the foot traffic from above on the ground level? How did they overcome any
pests or smells coming from the side ally garbage bins from getting inside? Every area has its
own rules and regulations on duplex downs so check with your local municipality to see if they
are options for you. As a buyer or as seller, you always want to be sure your safety isn’t
compromised. Knowing some of the facts may really help you find the perfect home or
investment for your family.