Cost to put separate meters in older multi family

19 Replies

I am looking at a triplex and a six unit. Both were converted from large SFH to multi family a long time ago. The landords currently pay utilities which I think is insane. I want to know if any of you have a rough idea of the cost of adding water meters, electric meters, gas meters. I know it depends upon where we are located but I was hoping to put some numbers in my analysis.

For instance, I have assumed that it will cost me $1,000 to add each meter plus any required internal plumbing/wiring to get everything run correctly. My assumption is that inside installation will cost at least $2000 per home.

I will call the local utilities because I think they have a flat rate for doing the outside work. I won't be able to get contractor quotes for the inside work until I have a contract.

These two properties are priced to sell and have some issues but I know that getting separate meters on them will be worth whatever it costs. Thanks for any suggestions.

Hi Kevin. In New Hampshire, where I am, we run into the same situations with older converted SFH to 2,3,and4 unit buildings. In our climate, as yours I assume, its definitely worth separating utilities. When running numbers to buy a place, I plug in$5,000.00 per unit to separate. This might sound steep but in my experience that's what it usually ends up being by the time your said and done. Best wishes!

Joe

Thanks Joe. Is that $5000 per utility per unit. Or is the budget just $5K per unit for electric and water.

And would you agree that this expense is well worth it?

I recently had two quotes come in at about $1,200 per meter to separate electric meters. This was on a pretty simple job with no rewiring. Remember to include the common area meter!

Depends on municipality. Gotta file with Dept of buildings. And you can't do that without a master plumber. Maybe with an architect. Where is this place anyways?

Originally posted by @Rick Wang :

Depends on municipality. Gotta file with Dept of buildings. And you can't do that without a master plumber. Maybe with an architect. Where is this place anyways?

 Both properties are located in Indiana. I will look into permits etc.

Generally (and Indiana may be different) the final meter install is done by the master plumber. Sometimes the service line can be inadequate Amanda a larger line bored in. That can get costly. Sometimes the utilities company doesn't charge you anything at all. Call around to some plumbers and they will give you an approximate cost. They will probably need to stop by to do an assessment. 

Longview, WA  5K just to add a second water meter to a duplex and that was cutting corners and hiring my own digger. Lots of drama as well. Once office workers get involved, add 2 weeks min. to the job. Each one wants to come out and look down into the hole and comment on what else you need to do. I will try to avoid that in the future. Not sure about power. Mine was already separated so only had to worry about separating water. 

I agree though, Tenants should pay for there own power and water.

Originally posted by @Shawn Coverdell :

Longview, WA  5K just to add a second water meter to a duplex and that was cutting corners and hiring my own digger. Lots of drama as well. Once office workers get involved, add 2 weeks min. to the job. Each one wants to come out and look down into the hole and comment on what else you need to do. I will try to avoid that in the future. Not sure about power. Mine was already separated so only had to worry about separating water. 

I agree though, Tenants should pay for there own power and water.

 Thanks for sharing your experience. It seems like a contractor could specialize in doing this kind of work and maybe streamline the process a bit.

Hey Kevin, I live in northwest Indiana and work for a company that is a sub of NIPSCO, the utility company up here for gas and electric. I was on a job with a gas crew and asked the same question and was told that all of the work that they would do would be of no charge because they would make more money once the units were separated. Having said this, you would then be responsible for everything that needed to be re-piped inside the house to run to the new meters and would have to meet with the town/city engineer for inspection. 

Mark, that's interesting. Different utilities in Indy so I won't assume it is t h e same here. Thanks for posting.

I paid 5k to add another water meter to my duplex was being built in Brownville , TX. I think it's worth it. It holds them accountable .

SFH in Tacoma WA, gas utility quoted free to bring a gas pipe from the street to the house and a meter. I would have had to sign a contract to convert furnace, hot water heater, stove, and clothes dryer to gas. Otherwise it was $17k without conversions.

Kevin, it will cost you a lot less to talk with your atty. and set up a prorated lease where a portion if no all of your utilities can get billed back to your tenants similar to many commercial leases that do CAM charges. I do not know if your area has any rules against this for SFR but what we have done in the past from a marketing POV is to only bill 75% of the cost so that the tenant feels that they are getting a better deal than individual meters. As a side note, in many cases, putting in individual electric meters will involve not only the meters and wiring, but upgraded fuse boxes and possibly upgrading service to the property itself. Additionally, you may not be able to get multiple meters to a SFR without violating zoning and building codes.

Go green

how about dividing water bill equally among tenants. I have been through that as a tenant in seattle. I just implemented it in a rental property acquired. Will have to see how it goes through though.

@Rudy Manna what was the initial reaction of the tenants when you approached them about the change?

I've inquired with the public works people in Wilmington, DE about how landlords separate meters for water here. The guy said it's very costly and difficult to do because you need to tap the main line. If they were to do it, he estimated at least $10k. He said what most people do, is install their own private meter somewhere along the tenants pipes. Then at the end of the month/quarter you just have to do the math to deduct their usage from the total and bill it how you want.

Best option for me going forward is to simply not look at properties that aren't individually metered already haha

On the electric ,there is no way to guess until you have an electrician look at it .  It all depends on where the new electric panels have to be located , and how the house is wired . it could be a piece of cake , or a nightmare .

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