In-Unit Laundry: A Quality-of-Life Amenity with Good ROI | SageWater

In-Unit Laundry:
A Quality-of-Life Amenity with Good ROI


With rent growth being tempered by oversupply and limited by rent control, apartment owners are looking for ways to boost the bottom line. Of course, you prefer strategic investments that yield a tangible ROI—investments like installing in-unit laundry.

At SageWater, we’re seeing dozens of communities explore in-unit laundry retrofits as a near-term capital improvement upgrade. In-unit washing machines and clothes dryers are highly sought by renters and installing them can be a great way to boost revenue and improve your residents’ quality of life.

For example, says renters are willing to pay up to 20% more in monthly rent for in-unit washers and dryers. While there are costs to install and maintain these machines, the rise in capitalization rate due to rent increases of 5%, 10% or 20% is significant and can deliver rapid ROI.

What are the top design considerations—and project cost drivers?
As you explore the potential benefits of a washer/dryer retrofit, you’ll also want to consider the physical feasibility of the project. The following top design considerations will affect the effort and cost required for your project.

  • Placement. Is there space for the in-unit laundry, including access to remove lint and perform maintenance? Is there easy access to the electrical supply, hot and cold water supply, and drain pipes?
  • Electrical capacity. You may need to upgrade or perform an electrical “heavy-up” to safely power the new appliances and install 240-volt, 30-amp plugs.
  • Plumbing stack capacity (including your waste stack). Can your existing plumbing infrastructure safely co-exist with the new piping you’ll need? Will you need to add new water supply and waste stacks?
  • Code-compliant ventilation.  Unless you select ventless dryers, you’ll need a way to vent dryer air. In some buildings, you may also need to consider how to supply what’s called “make-up air”, which compensates for air that can be pulled out of the building during dryer venting.
You’ll need adequate space to locate in-unit laundry and perform maintenance.
Source: SageWater

If washer/dryer retrofits interest you, who should you call to get a project like this off the ground?
Typically, apartment owners turn to general contractors (GCs) for this kind of work because there are so many different professions and skill sets involved. For example, your project will require:

  • An engineer to design the retrofit solution
  • Project managers to keep the project on time and on budget and to communicate with residents about the schedule and when workers will enter their units
  • Carpenters to build out closet space
  • Electricians to perform upgrades required to power the new appliances
  • Plumbers to relocate or add new plumbing that meets new supply and drain piping requirements

As mentioned above, you’ll also need workers to do the mechanical work of installing dryer vents and meeting make-up air requirements.

Rather than a GC, consider a specialty contractor that employs teams with nearly all the required skills and can complete the work in less time and at a much lower cost.

At SageWater, for example, we specialize in replacing piping systems in multifamily communities. Of course, this means we employ plumbers and, because pipes are hidden behind walls in kitchens and bathrooms, our crews regularly perform significant carpentry, drywall, painting, tiling, and other finishing work. We also provide significant mechanical and electrical expertise when delivering new fan-coil units and control components (thermostats) as part of designing and installing hydronic heating and cooling systems. Finally, our project managers are highly praised by owners, operators, and residents for their effectiveness and communication practices.

This combination of expertise and experience means that SageWater is perfectly positioned to help your community with a washer/dryer retrofit project. In fact, we’ve done dozens of these projects over the years, installing thousands of washers and dryers.

To find out if upgrading to in-unit washers and dryers might be a good option for your community, give us a call. We provide free consultations and estimates to help you determine if and when it might be the right time for your community to make a change.

We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading our blog! Contact us any time with questions about Simply Smarter Pipe Replacement for multifamily apartment and condominium communities.