the front driveway of a duplex home

The Beginner’s Guide to Building a Duplex Home

Vision HomesHome Building

Building a duplex can be an affordable way to get into the real estate market. If you’re a beginner, it’s important to do your research so that you know what to expect.

This blog post will provide you with everything you need to know about building a duplex for newbies.

We’ll cover the basics, such as financing and permits, as well as more detailed information, such as designing and constructing your duplex.

So, whether you just read our article on “The 4 Stages of Building a New Home” or you’re already in the planning stages, we’ve got you covered!


What is a duplex home and what are the benefits of owning one?

A duplex home is a residential building that contains two separate homes that are connected (most commonly by a central wall). These properties can be under one title and be owned and sold together, or they can be under two separate titles, meaning each home is individually owned.

If you’re investing in a rental property, you’re in luck. With a duplex investment, you’ll have the chance to receive two rental incomes from one property. You could earn nearly as much as you would with two separate houses, while saving thousands in land costs.

For homebuyers, there is a huge financial benefit to buying into a duplex. They could end up paying much less than they would to live in a single dwelling on a similar block of land.


How to find the perfect lot for your duplex

When buying land, you need to do your due diligence. You need to think both short and long term and keep in mind that the cheapest block of land isn’t the same as the best value for money. In the long term, you need to create a property that’s appealing to potential renters. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Is the lot in or near the city or a business centre?
  • Is the population growth strong?
  • What are the amenities and facilities like in the area?
  • Is the property near a university or school?
  • What future developments are in the pipeline?
  • Is the infrastructure in the area good?
  • Is the rental property demand in your potential neighbourhood on the rise or at a steady level?
  • Has the land had soil tests to make sure the structure is sound?

There’s nothing guaranteed when it comes to investment properties and there’ll always be an element of risk. However, if you research the above criteria, you’ll greatly improve your chances of success. The other way to look at it is as looking out for red flags that may tell you why this block of land is a bad choice for your duplex.

interior bright white kitchen of a duplex home

How to design your duplex to maximise rental income

Like any home, good design choices can be the difference between an average duplex and a great one. A lot of the best designs serve a functional purpose while being visually appealing. For example, consider an open-plan layout that allows a lot of natural light into your house. This will make your home look more spacious and inviting while also making it easy for your tenants to move around. Making the most of natural light can lower your power bills and stop your home from feeling dark and gloomy.

For inspiration, visit some display homes or look into what’s trendy in designs and home layouts. Try to create a house that’s comfortable and functional for your tenants while being visually appealing.

Building codes and permits to know before you start building

When it comes to building – research and preparation are your best defence against costly mistakes. A good rule of thumb to remember is the later you make a mistake or change in a building project, the more expensive it will likely be to fix. The best solution is to go straight to the source. Talk to your council about building codes, zoning regulations and the permits you will need to build a duplex. 

Regulations can vary, sometimes from street to street, and change over time, so it’s important to check with the council even if you’ve built a duplex before. For example, there will be a minimum lot size requirement (in NSW 400m2) and a minimum width (usually 12m). Even if you meet all the requirements, you’ll need to get plans approved once completed.

Financing your duplex build and choosing the right contractor

Building a duplex isn’t a journey you’ll be taking alone, so you’ll want to have a great team behind you. For a successful build, you will need:

  • A mortgage broker
  • A solicitor
  • A quantity surveyor
  • A draftsperson/architect
  • A reputable builder 

These experts can guide you through the process and help you through your building journey.

When it comes to getting a loan, have an in depth talk to your financier or broker about your situation and they can come up with the best plan for you. Finances is where a lot of people can come unstuck so it’s important to take this step seriously and be honest and realistic about what you can afford. This, along with a mixture of good research, expert advice, and a strong plan will stop your dream house from becoming a nightmare.

Different builders specialise in different types of projects, so a good place to start is finding a builder who has built many duplexes before. When you’ve narrowed your selections down, interview the builder and have a discussion of what you want to do. Check licenses and qualifications – any trustworthy contractor should be more than happy to provide these to you.


Tips for managing a duplex property and maximising rental income

  • Understand what renters want: Keeping up-to-date with real estate trends will stop your duplex from falling behind in the market. Research what features and styles are currently attracting renters. Even something like outdated decor can put out the wrong vibe to potential tenants.
  • Upkeep: No matter how wonderful you or your tenants are, things will need repairs or maintenance from time to time. The important thing is to not let these issues stack up as this can affect your rental yield. 
  • Be aware of the market value: Raising rent is an art form and requires a fine balance of getting a good price without motivating your tenant to look elsewhere. Being aware of other rent prices on the market will help you gauge the appropriate rental price for you.
  • Make your place pet friendly: People love their pets and there’s high demand for pet friendly properties. Being pet friendly doesn’t just mean allowing pets, it also means creating a place that animals will be safe and comfortable.


duplex home double garage


Building a duplex can be a great investment, but it’s important to have the right people on your side. Vision Homes builders in Maitland create the perfect duplex home design for you.

If you’re looking to build your new dream home in and around the Hunter Valley, Newcastle, and the Central Coast area, then get in touch with us today!