Multi-Family house: design ideas, inspiration and pictures

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What is a multi family house?

The residential structures providing shelter to more than one family are known as multi family homes. Multi family residences are not exactly a modern invention. They have always had their places in the history of architecture. The large chateaus, palaces and mansions of the bygone also provided shelters to multiple families. However, there are some forms of multi family residences that are characteristic of the modern time.   

Types of multi family homes in Canada

Multi family residences come in varied forms. Some of the prominent ones are the following:

Apartment buildings – This is by far the most common multifamily dwelling that we get to see in the cities and suburban areas. These buildings tend to be at least four stories high. They are built with self-contained apartments on each level. Depending on the available area, each floor may have more than one such apartment.

Mixed use buildings – This type of building combines commercial activities with residential ones. The lower floors are generally used for housing shops, small offices, banks and other types of commercial centres. The upper floors are designed with self-contained apartments and are used for residential purposes.

Duplex – Duplex houses are built with two separate apartments both having their own entry ways.

Triplex – Triplex buildings contain three separate apartments. Both duplex and triplex structures tend to be costlier than ordinary apartments.

Condominum – Condos or condominiums are built with several separate apartment buildings within a gated premise. The bigger ones also house large shopping centres.  They often act like a small township within a bigger city. Compared with standalone apartment dwellings, the residents of condos tend to enjoy better amenities.

Are multifamily houses common in Canada?

Multi family houses are very common in the larger Canadian cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg, Quebec, Halifax and Edmonton. Smaller towns like Beloeil, Vernon, Stratford and Bolton also have a large number of multifamily dwellings dominating their skylines.  

What types are more prevalent and where?

Apartments and condos are the commonest type of structures that could be seen in the cities. Cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa and Calgary have a large concentration of condominium buildings. The self-contained apartments are generally built with two or three bedrooms. Apart from the places already mentioned, cities like Windsor, Barrie and Thunder Bay also have a large number of multifamily townhouses and apartment dwellings. Due to their location and nature of work, many farm houses and ranches across the country also act as multifamily dwellings.

Different materials and colours

Modern multifamily dwellings are built with concrete walls. Glass façade is a popular choice for many for contemporary condos. The choice of colours does not follow any specific trend. The interior colours are dependent on your preferences.    

Legal issues that may arise when building a multi family house

In Canada, you are not permitted to build wood framed multifamily dwellings that are higher than three storeys. You also need to have the design of the house approved before starting your project. For buying an existing apartment, you are expected to pay at least 1% of the cost of the residence and sign a buyer’s agreement. The rest is paid in installments or at the time of possession. This is pre-arranged between the seller and the buyer.

Pros & cons of having a multi family house

Multi family houses are cheaper than single family dwellings or even semi-detached townhouses. They provide affordable housing solutions to a large number of people in the cities. These houses are built close to a city’s heart. So, for the residents, the time required for travelling to the work places, educational institutes or markets becomes shorter.

Many of these apartment buildings suffer from a lack of sufficient space. The relentless noise and pollution of the big cities put off a lot of people from living in buildings like these.

Maintenance & management costs of a multi family house

The size of your apartment regulates the maintenance and management cost of your dwelling. You are expected to pay for the service charges, utility bills and parking fees. Periodic repairing of the structure and painting the interiors also need a budget. You are also expected to pay certain fees to maintain the security of the premises. If you are living in condos, you may be asked to pay a portion of the utility bills for lighting up the garden and exterior of the house. To cover all the costs, maintain an annual budget of CAD 10 – 15 per square metre.    

Which professionals are able to help you & where to find inspiration to build a multi family home or decorate one

If you are planning to build a multifamily structure or buying an apartment in an existing house, you will need help from skilled professionals to see your project to fruition. You may contact them directly through homify’s online platform. Alternatively, you may seek recommendations from your friends and family members.

Building, refurbishing, or changing the layout of a multi family home

Let an experienced architect help you design a multifamily building. This way you will save unnecessary costs and own a house in tune with contemporary architecture. Skilled home builders will be able to help you complete the project.

To decorate the interior of your house, change the colour of the interior walls or improve the look of your living room seek help of an interior designer. If you are buying an old apartment, you may need to alter it according to your liking. To explore the possibilities of an alternate layout seek opinions of an interior architect.