Detached vs. Semi-Detached
Bungalow vs. 2-Storey
We’re very familiar with detached, 2-story houses; as well as semi-detached, 2-storey homes as well. But what about semi-detached bungalows? They’re pretty rare, and pretty unique too…
I’m probably not throwing anybody off here by talking about semi-detached bungalows, but then again, they are quite rare and due to the frequency with which they’re being developed, there aren’t many left in Toronto.
Let’s just pretend for a moment that we know nothing about real estate, and distinguish between the following three types of homes:
1) Detached, 2-Storey:
2) Detached, Bungalow
3) Semi-Detached, 2-Storey
These are the three most common types of houses, although they aren’t all equally common.
In the past decade, majority of detached bungalows have been purchased by builders and redeveloped to maximize the lot value by either adding a second-story or completely tearing down the bungalow and starting from scratch with a house that will push the boundaries of the maximum building allowance.
Leaside is an area with about 4000 homes, and there are probably only 300-some-odd bungalows left. Consider that when the area was first developed after WWII, there were about 2000 detached bungalows, and 2000 semi-detached, 2-storey houses.
Davisville Village, North Toronto, Lawrence Park, Wanless Park, & Cricket Club are other areas of the city which have seen many detached bungalows redeveloped in the past decade.
Simply put: the detached bungalow is slowly becoming extinct.
But what about the semi-detached bungalow?
How rare are those?
Well, I would bet there can’t be more than 30-40 of these in all of Leaside. Other areas you might find semi-detached bungalows would be Beaches, Leslieville, and of course Scarborough.
So what are the pros and cons?
Well for starters, semi-bungalows offer an entry level position into a market which a buyer might ordinarily find himself on the outside looking in. They are the cheapest option in any neighborhood because they are small and encumbered.
Any semi-detached property is obviously encumbered since you share a wall with a neighbor, but semi-detached bungalows are especially encumbered since they are tougher to renovate.
The appeal to a detached bungalow is that you can always add a second story.
With a semi-detached 2-storey home, you can always put an addition onto the back of the house.
But what are the options with a semi-detached bungalow?
There aren’t many, and that is the most significant drawback. Buying a detached bungalow gives you the peace of mind that one day you might be able to develop the property and create your dream home, or you can always sell out to a developer with dollar-signs in his eye. But buying a semi-bungalow means living in 1200-1400 square feet for as long as you own that property.
There is, however, one seldom-seen option, and I think pictures speak louder than words in this case:
Here are two semi-detached, 2-storey homes on Rumsey Road. A few years ago, these were two semi-detached bungalows.
In theory, you can sit tight in your semi-bungalow until the owner next door decides to sell, and then scoop up your better-half and have the benefit of every option possible.
The owner of these two semi-bungalows developed the property as if it were two detached bungalows; that is to say that he tore them down to the supporting walls and built two brand-new, 2-storey houses in their place. They are still semi-detached homes, but they have the benefit of being built from scratch. All other semi-detached homes can only be renovated in their existing state, thus things like exterior facade, basement ceiling height, and many mechanicals (heating, plumbing) cannot be changed.
These semi-detached houses on Rumsey Road have always held the record for highest sale price in the neighborhood, and I’m not sure that would change any time soon since they are truly one-of-a-kind. It also doesn’t hurt that they face Trace Manes Park either.
I guess in the long run, there isn’t as much value with semi-bungalows as the other styles of houses, but in the short term it may allow a buyer to enter a market he couldn’t ordinarily afford.
Semi-bungalows represent the price floor in certain hot neighborhoods, and there are certainly deals to be had.
If you could pick up a semi-bungalow in Leaside for $350,000 – $400,000 right now, why would anybody rent for $1800/month?