Options for new heating systems in a Tri flex

5 Replies

I've noticed a lot of Tri-plex (3 family) houses have one central heating system I've looked at lately.  Other units have these old fashion "gas stove" type systems in the northeast.  What other options would I have to make each unit independent?  Would like to house the additional units in the basement, electric baseboard wouldn't really work for a decent sized 2 bedroom unit.

You could use zoned heating systems, but they're probably going to run you quite a few bucks to get installed in each unit. If it has centralized heat already, why not set the heat at a constant temperature, say 65 in the winter, and install baseboard heaters in each unit so the tenants can up the heat to their liking, on their own dime. You'd need to set the thermostat for the central heat in a common area so that the baseboard heat doesn't effect it, but otherwise I don't see why you couldn't use the baseboard heat to bring each unit up a few degrees to the tenant's liking. It'd save you money over using zoned heating as well as keep the tenants happy, that's a win win.

I recommend trying to install three furnaces if you keep the building for an extended time. Even though the upfront cost is more its a better way to do things and will save hassle down the road. It should be possible to install all three until in the basement, each with separate meters. Going into each deal, my goal is to keep everything for the rest of my life so upfront costs aren't that big of an issue. Long term, reliable cashflow is what matters to me but it depends on your goals.

Originally posted by @John Sanderson :

You could use zoned heating systems, but they're probably going to run you quite a few bucks to get installed in each unit. If it has centralized heat already, why not set the heat at a constant temperature, say 65 in the winter, and install baseboard heaters in each unit so the tenants can up the heat to their liking, on their own dime. You'd need to set the thermostat for the central heat in a common area so that the baseboard heat doesn't effect it, but otherwise I don't see why you couldn't use the baseboard heat to bring each unit up a few degrees to the tenant's liking. It'd save you money over using zoned heating as well as keep the tenants happy, that's a win win.

 Have you tried this before?

Originally posted by @Sean M. :

I recommend trying to install three furnaces if you keep the building for an extended time. Even though the upfront cost is more its a better way to do things and will save hassle down the road. It should be possible to install all three until in the basement, each with separate meters. Going into each deal, my goal is to keep everything for the rest of my life so upfront costs aren't that big of an issue. Long term, reliable cashflow is what matters to me but it depends on your goals.

 That's my thinking but I'm just guessing the cost would be astronomical...

I haven't tried it before with a furnace, but I do have an apartment building with common areas heated by myself, and tenants are responsible for heating their own units. There is a one bedroom unit I pay electric for, and I've not seen the electric bill go over $90 this winter for that particular unit. It's not an exact match to your situation, but it has similarities, and I think you'd see tenants just as happy with baseboard heat that could increase the temperature ~10-15 degrees as you would with completely separate furnaces, with a MUCH lower upfront cost.

I think the main thing to consider is how long you're planning on holding the property. In the long run, heating the building to 60 degrees and having the tenants cover the rest would probably net you less overall(that's a guess without doing any calculations) but if you plan to own the building for a short period, say 5 years, I would absolutely go for a central heating system set a certain temperature, with the tenants covering the rest to bring it up to a comfortable zone. Baseboard alone will definitely not heat a unit efficiently, especially in Massachusetts.

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.