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Montreal Housing Types

Montreal is a city of renters. It is the largest rental market in Canada embodying a large pool of rental housing in the form of apartments, duplexes, triplexes, and other multi-unit residential buildings. The vast array of old and new dwellings, with different styles and architecture, suits many tastes.

There are four basic types of housing found in Montreal neighbourhoods:

Row Houses in Montreal

A row house in Montreal, more commonly known today as a townhouse, can either be a single-family cottage, a two-story duplex or a three-story triplex with one unit per floor.

Row houses often make an ideal “middle ground” between detached single-family home and a full-fledged condo because they offer attributes from both, to a certain extent. They offer an affordable housing alternative.

Montreal townhouses often have striking architectural details such as sculpted mansard roofs, arched entrances, porches, and stained glass windows. More elaborate dwellings have richly ornate and unique interiors with features like built-in cupboards, armoires, mantlepieces, and bevelled glass doors.

Types of Row Houses
  • Cottage:  Montreal cottages have diverse facades, some with a balcony and often with an overhanging window. The private entrance is generally protected by a porch, awning, or an enclosed balcony. The bedrooms are upstairs; the communal areas are on the ground floor.

  • Working-class duplex:  This type of Montreal duplex is built right on the edge of the sidewalk. The backyard is accessible through a carriage gate. These two-story buildings have a plain red brick facade, with side-by-side doors leading to the ground floor and second-floor unit. They typically do not have a front balcony. The rear balcony has a staircase that descends to the backyard.

  • 2-unit, 3-unit duplexes:  This style of duplex has two stories, with one unit per floor or one unit on the ground floor and two units on the second. Set in from the sidewalk, they usually have a small garden. The very small porch or steps lead to the ground floor and an exterior staircase leads to the second floor.

  • 3-unit triplex: This type of triplex has one unit per floor. Windows over a small backyard provide light to the middle of the unit. An exterior staircase in front goes up to an interior stairwell, made bright by skylights, that leads to the second floor.

  • 5-or 6-unit triplexes: Have one or two units on the ground floor, and two units on each subsequent floor. The defining feature of these buildings is the large balcony supported by columns right up to the third floor.

    An exterior staircase leads to the large first-floor balcony, where there are three doors: one for each of the units on the floor; the third door accesses an interior staircase that goes up to the second-floor units.

Detached Houses in Montreal

More common in the suburbs than in the city, single detached houses (also called single-family homes) can still be found in less dense areas of Montreal (Ahuntsic/Cartierville, Mercier, Rosemont, etc.) and in the Pointe-aux-Trembles and Rivière-des-Prairies areas.

In spite of their high cost, there is a strong demand for this type of housing. More and more, it is being offered in a number of new developments. In January 2007, the detached houses market increased by 14% with 2,341 sales recorded on by the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board.

Semi-detached Houses in Montreal

Semi-detached housing consists of a pair of houses, built side by side, sharing “party wall”. Featuring both a front and rear garden, a driveway or alley leads to the back of the property providing natural lighting to the building on three sides.

As with the case of detached houses, two-story semi-detached houses are more affordable than a single-story semi-detached house because they require less land for the same number of rooms.

Montreal semi-detached houses are common in older municipalities like Nôtre-Dame-de-Grace and Côte-des-Neiges that were integrated into the city, and includes duplexes and cottages.

Types of Semi-detached Houses
  • Semi-detached duplex: Like most other duplexes, this has one dwelling per floor. Set back from the sidewalk, with a small garden, semi-detached duplexes usually have a small porch or a few steps that lead to the ground floor and an interior staircase that goes up to the second floor. Their style ranges from simple models to very elaborate buildings.

  • Semi-detached cottage: Also set back from the sidewalk with a small garden, this two-story house has the same layout as a row house, but feautres a more elaborate finish with oak baseboards, stained glass windows, double doors, bevelled glass and more.

Montreal Apartments

Apartments in Montreal can be divided into two types: ones that have up to four floors and no elevator, and ones that have at four floors or more and an elevator.

More recently, a third type has been appearing – the recycled building. A recycled building, also called warehouse conversion, is an old non-residential building transformed into bright living spaces with high ceilings and exposed beams.

Types of Apartments
  • Small apartment house:  Similar to the row house, this type of structure has one main entrance and no outside staircase. More often rentals, this building model has been adopted by condominium developers.

  • Apartment building:  Usually found in more urban areas, typically this type of building take up a block or several lots. Some have offer special services and amenities like a doorman, a gym or a pool.

  • Recycled building: Mostly found in old central neighbourhoods, this new type of residential space is getting more and more popular in Montreal, make up a significant portion of new dwellings. These buildings offer either standard apartments or spacious lofts with the bathroom being the only enclosed room.

Article published May 28th, 2009, Quebec Residential, Commercial and Vacation Rentals
see: Apartments for Rent in Montreal