House Versus Townhouse: What’s the Difference?

Peter Chambers

Feb 22, 2021

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If you are in the market to buy a home, you probably have many questions. One may be the type of property to select — a house or a townhome. 

Both types of properties offer unique advantages, and making the right choice isn’t easy. However, arming yourself with information helps you choose wisely. Here are the key differences between a house and a townhouse — which one works for your family? 

Unique Pros of Townhouses

Townhouses differ from standalone homes in several ways. The most apparent is structural — townhomes share at least one other wall with another, similarly designed abode. If you are an end unit, you may have more windows than others, but all homes in a row typically share similar sizes and layouts. 

What’s the difference between a townhouse and a condo? In the latter, you belong to an organized community, and while you may own your unit, the building and grounds belong to another entity. You typically enjoy a wider variety of amenities with a condo, such as onsite fitness facilities and swimming pools. However, you will pay for these in the form of an association fee. 

Townhouse ownership is nearly identical to owning a separate dwelling. You also own the land where your house is situated — typically, your front and back yard. You may or may not have a homeowners association (HOA), but if you do, fees generally don’t run as high as in condos. There’s less maintenance to perform since you manage yard upkeep. 

Drawbacks of Townhomes 

Because your home is attached to others, you may need to follow restrictive codes, covenants and restrictions (CC&Rs). These may limit what colors you may paint your home and what you may install in your front yard. 

Also, remain aware that your home is attached to at least one other, possibly two. While building codes often mandate some degree of soundproofing, your neighbors may hear you — or vice versa — if you speak or play music too loudly. One alternative is to soundproof your home. You should consult with an acoustics expert to ensure that you get the materials you need to reduce noise and increase your privacy. 

Benefits of Single-Family Homes

Single-family standalone homes have one apparent advantage over townhouses — you don’t share walls with any strangers. You may have a small yard or acres to roam. Your next-door neighbor may live a few yards away, or miles could separate you from civilization. 

If you are the outdoors type, you can improve your home’s curb appeal with innovative landscaping techniques. If you have space, you can grow food at home and save yourself a ton on groceries. You can also remodel your interior and backyard however you like. 

Room to grow is probably the most significant advantage of this style of dwelling. If you decide to have more children or have an aging family member move in, you can build an addition to many homes. You can’t expand as readily with a townhouse. You can also use your acreage to build a mother-in-law casita or install tiny homes for relatives. 

The Cons of Selecting Single-Family 

Some single-family homes do reside in neighborhoods with HOAs. If yours does, you may face restrictions on what colors you can paint your exterior. You may also have covenants restricting when you must take your trash bin in from the curb or how many cars you can park in your driveway. 

Additionally, repairs can quickly grow costly, although you also encounter this problem with townhouses. If your basement frequently floods, and your sump pump goes on the fritz, you could pay well over $1,000 to install a new one. Issues like crumbling foundations and flood damage can prove even more costly. 

The Difference Between a House and Townhouse 

Ultimately only you can decide what’s right for you. Single-family homes offer unparalleled privacy and room to grow, while townhouses provide the conveniences of a close-knit community. The right choice is the one that best suits your needs.

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