Duplex Designs - Are they worth the trouble?

When you have a larger or traditional block of land it is a natural thought to think of downsizing as you get older. It is also a thought to subdivide so you can live in one and rent or sell the other.

You can still make the homes look independent from one other with colour or materials. A duplex is a single residential building with two dwellings under the one roof and a dividing wall between. Also known as a dual occupancy, each side is a completely separate home, with its own entrance, amenities and yard. Duplexes are sometimes on one title, meaning both halves must be sold together. Also known as a dual occupancy, each side is a completely separate home, with its own entrance, amenities and yard.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. Subdivision costs- this can cost thousands in town planning and permits - $40- $50K in consultancy fees. Consult with your council re zoning to see if your property can be turned into a duplex or dual occupancy

  2. Knock down and rebuild could cost $20K

  3. Design and planning usually takes more than a year so you have land tax and rates to consider

  4. Capital gains is also usually applicable on the home that is not your primary residence

  5. Owners must agree to a building insurance policy that covers both sides of a duplex.

  6. You need to have a certain amount of green space on the block, again check with your council or town planner.

  7. If you are an investor, buying a duplex means that you’ll receive two rental incomes from one asset. And building one means you’ll be able to earn almost as much rental income as you would from two detached houses while saving thousands on land costs, as a duplex requires much less land than two detached houses.

  8. The cost up to half as much as a regular home and for anyone on a moderate budget, or anyone wanting a low-maintenance lifestyle in a premium location, such as retirees and down-sizers this is a big plus.

  9. One of the main benefits of subdividing and building a duplex is the ability to generate multiple dwellings, and therefore multiple sources of profit.

So before you embark on designing a duplex or even considering a block to develop, call me and we can have a catch about its potential.

To sell or renovate?

With house prices falling flat over the past few months it is not surprising that growing families are accessing their need to renovate or move with more caution.

Some of the considerations around moving include:

  1. The cost of stamp duty

  2. Conveyancing ($800 to $1,300)

  3. Marketing ($6,500 to $8,000)

  4. Agent fees (two to three per cent of sale price – for example $15,000 on a $500,000 home)

  5. Property styling your house to a sellable standard (property staging companies can charge up to $6,000 depending on the type of furnishings required and the length of time it takes to sell). 

  6. expenses such as agent's commission, legal fees and stamp duty, loan fees and removalist fees. as listed above could be 10% of the property’s price

Some of the considerations around renovating include:

  1. Overcapitalising - spending more on your home than you will make back. To avoid this get an appraisal from a local real estate agent. Let's assume your house is worth $600,000, and the average price in the street is $800,000: you could safely spend $200,000 in renovations. That's just over double the non-productive costs of moving house.

  2. Better appliances and lowering energy costs

  3. Builder doesn’t do a good job or finish the job

  4. Cost of living somewhere while the build takes place.

What ever your decision make sure you do it totally informed. To understand the time, cost and functionality of your home renovation book at time with me to chat.

Victorian Stamp Duty costs

Victorian Stamp Duty costs

Tradie prices fall by 44% - bargain time to renovate.

As double digit falls in housing prices continue the cost of trades like electricians, plumbers, builders and alike has fallen by up to 44% according to ServiceSeeking.com.au's co-founder Jeremy Levitt.

“Demand for builders has fallen by more than 40 per cent. Bathroom renovations were also hit particularly hard, with demand falling 35 per cent followed by a 25 per cent decline for bricklayers and a 20 per cent dive in requests for electricians.”

So if you are after a bargain to renovate that bathroom or kitchen, then it’s time to get going. Drop me a line for a design chat or call me on 0418100872 to get your plans sorted so you can take advantage of these record low building prices.

tradie prices fall.jpg
Source: Demand for builders has fallen by more than 40 per cent. Bathroom renovations were also hit particularly hard, with demand falling 35 per cent followed by a 25 per cent decline for bricklayers and a 20 per cent dive in requests for electricians.

Our Home Completed

Well, it has been a long time coming but I will let the images speak for themselves. Here is our home finished. We are really pleased with how the old part of the home melds well with the modern renovation at the back. The navy blue theme and the mix of wood and concrete smooth elements create a livable natural calm environment that is a pleasure to be in.

Our new Home

Spark Street Existing Floor Plan

Spark Street Existing Floor Plan

After 15 years my wife and I are tackling our own renovation. I thought it would be a good idea to chronicle the phases of our project from the first concept to the through to construction of the finished renovation. Over the next few months and you will see the process of engaging with an architect with my own home and all that that entails.

Like every design I do, the design needs to go through a series of stages.


Front living room

Our California Bungalow has some love features that we wanted to keep, the lovely bay windows at the front, the fireplaces, however we wanted to open up the back of the house to the garden and give us another living area.

Key to renovation design was thinking about what we wanted in the next 10 years. Our son Lachlan will be a teenager soon so having a separate retreat for him and us was part of the brief. Danielle (Dan, my wife) and I love similar designs and so it was easy to agree on most of the design elements, but we still went through a series of questions and discussions to determine what was in and out of scope.


Dan has been using Houzz to collect her ideas. This app is a great tool for home renovators to use when collecting ideas. We had a few restrictions on our block. It is only 500m2 corner block so we need to be really clever with our design to maximise space and light, while being aware of overlooking our neighbours. We knew that the design would really only apply to the back end of our home – or the lean to as it is sometimes referred to. This back part currently contains the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and sunroom.

Spark Street Floor Plan

We wanted to open up the back and create a new galley kitchen, with more storage, connect the room to the garden and create an upstairs area for our work and Lachlan when he gets older. We also wanted a better laundry and bathroom.  By doing some initial sketches on the current floor plan (which you can access from your local council) we were able to see what we could do within the parameters of the block. It also was good to have some trace paper handy to draw over the top of the original plan until we had exhausted our ideas.  The time it takes to get the foundations of what you want in a renovation can take some time. It is worth coming back to over a series of weeks so that you can check-back in with your initial thoughts and allow ideas to marinate. Once you have the concept and scope defined you can move onto formalising the design.

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