In-suite laundry adds value to multi-family units

What investors and owners need to know when retrofitting
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
by Riley Denneny

Retrofitting multi-family residential buildings for in-suite laundry can create significant value for rental building investors. The convenience and privacy of in-suite laundry versus shared laundry is a just one of the many reasons to consider this upgrade.

Given the high cost real estate environments, such as the Greater Vancouver area, in-suite laundry is not only a key value add, the return on investment has the potential to be two to three times the initial costs for the buildings that undergo this process.

When planning such a project, an adequate scope of work should be determined in advance of commencing any project. Such considerations are outlined in detail below, which will help you define what needs to be done:

• Will your existing electrical panels within the units allow for the additional load for the new appliances?

• Are you going to vent the new dryers to the outside, or use new ventless dryer technology?

• Do you plan to install dryers that require heat pumps?

• Will the existing drainage stack allow for the addition of clothes washers, or will you need a dedicated drain stack for these new laundry?

• Does the building have sufficient hot water supply to allow for the increased hot water load for the clothes washers, or will upgrades be required?

Undertaking significant construction projects in a large building is a little different than new construction projects. There may be up to 100 or more families living in the building while works is conducted so it is very important for the consumer to have a good plan when sourcing a firm experienced in major construction work within multi-family residential and tenanted buildings.

Ensure that you select a reputable contractor with a long and unblemished track record in this specialized field. The contractor must employ journeymen and apprentice plumbers exclusively, and have their own sub-trades for the construction work. Make sure they are insured, are WorksafeBC registered, are prepared to supply bonds and stand by their work long after the warranty has expired.

Ensure the system is designed by a registered professional engineer with many years of experience in this field. Plumbing, building and electrical permits are to be obtained by the contractor which ensures that the design complies with all current codes and also ensures that the work of the contractor is constantly inspected by the city plumbing, building and electrical inspectors, in addition to the engineer.

In-suite laundry dramatically improves the desirability of the building to potential renters. The combination of larger floor plans of older buildings combined with modern amenities such as in-suite laundry will create an incredible demand for your product. Higher rents will easily be attained with this added in-suite amenity.

For strata property owners, the convenience of in-suite laundry is a significant improvement to owners that live in their suites; and financially, the value increase of in-suite laundry is 2 – 3 times the cost per unit. In addition, their suites become much more marketable and desirable in the competitive condominium market.

For rental building investors, and owners alike, adding in suite laundry can add tens of thousands of dollars to the value of each suite in a building.

Riley Denney is sales & marketing at Brighter Mechanical Ltd.

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