What is a duplex apartment? Everything you need to know

If the pandemic had one major effect on the property market, it was placing space right at the top of buyer’s priorities. While many city dwellers moved to the suburbs in search of that elusive space, for those who need to stay in cities, that extra space can seem unobtainable. Thankfully, duplex apartments can provide a solution. What is a duplex apartment? Read on and find out in our simple guide to this increasingly popular property type.

What is a duplex apartment?

A duplex apartment refers to a building that has two living units spread over two floors, joined by an internal staircase. These two units can be stacked on top of each other or arranged side by side, but there’s always a common wall dividing them. They are still entirely separated though, and there will be no connecting doors or walkways.

Is a duplex different to a flat?

Duplexes are different to flats in one fundamental way. While a flat is typically arranged over a single floor, duplex apartments are spread across two floors. This means duplexes are somewhere in between a normal flat and a house.

Duplexes can also be divided into two units, with the owner sometimes living in one unit while renting out the other, providing another point of different to typical flats.

Are duplexes and penthouses the same thing?

A duplex is not the same as a penthouse. Penthouses are the uppermost unit of an apartment building. They are almost always the most expensive unit in the building. They tend to feature better design and furnishings, and they enjoy the advantages of having the best views and the least noise pollution.

Are duplexes the same as maisonettes?

Maisonettes are similar to duplexes, and the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. However, not all duplexes are maisonettes.

A maisonette is arranged across more than one level in the same way as a duplex, but the main distinction of maisonettes is that they have their own entrance and staircase. You often find maisonettes above retail units on traditional British high streets, with their own entrances, separate to the shops below them.

Are duplex apartments popular in the UK?

Even though ‘duplex’ is not a term that all UK buyers and renters are familiar with, duplex apartments are becoming increasingly popular across the country. They tend to feature in the UK’s more expensive property markets, usually in big cities where affluent buyers want more space but can’t quite stretch to a detached house. Either buying or renting a duplex is an increasingly popular choice in these markets, especially where demand for flats has slumped.

Are duplex apartments more expensive to rent than flats?

Duplexes are usually more expensive to rent or buy, compared to single-unit flats. This is simply because they are generally bigger, with more flexible floorplans and larger room configurations.

What are the pros of living in a duplex?

The advantages of living in a duplex include:

More space: If you are moving from a flat to a duplex, you’ll enjoy the added space it brings.

Greater flexibility: Duplexes give you the chance to rearrange and tinker with your home setup, much more so than a regular flat.

Fewer immediate neighbours: Instead of having a crush of neighbours above, below and around you, living in a duplex means you’re only close to one other unit. This minimises the chances of having to deal with noise and other annoyances. Best case scenario: you make friends for life with your duplex neighbours!

What are the cons of living in a duplex?

The disadvantages of living in a duplex include:

Higher price: The added space and convenience of duplexes come at a price. Usually, you’ll find duplexes come at a premium rental rate or price tag for those looking to buy.

Not quite a house: Although duplexes offer greater space and flexibility than flats, they aren’t on the same level as houses. You’ll have to think carefully about whether a duplex can offer you everything you need.

Shared outdoor area: Duplexes tend to feature shared gardens or terraces. However, you might have a private balcony. Regardless, sharing the outdoor area with your duplex neighbours might be a bit tricky if you don’t get on or want to use it at the same time.

Should I consider a duplex apartment?

If you want more space and a greater range of living setups than a flat can offer, then you might want to consider living in a duplex. It’s a smart, adaptable and increasingly desirable property type, which means that resale shouldn’t be a problem in the near future. If you’re living in a big city, then a sizeable range of duplexes should be available or under development. This will give you plenty of scope to find the right one for you.

However, if you’re not sure about this ‘halfway house’ measure, then it’s probably best to wait. For many, the duplex option is the sweet spot between a flat and a house. For others, it’s simply a little bit too small, still. So, before jumping in, be very sure that a duplex can offer all the space you need.

For more information about the different property types on the UK market, explore our guides below. Whatever type of property you’re interested in, we can give you the inside track.

HomeViews provides verified resident reviews of the UK’s housing developments. We’re working with developers, house builders, operators, housing associations and the Government to recognise high performers and help improve standards in the built environment.

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