Water Budget and My Numbers

5 Replies | New Orleans, Louisiana

Hello!  I am looking to buy a duplex in New Orleans--ideally I can house hack for about a year then move out and it will be a cash-flowing rental property.  My problem is that I don't know what to estimate for water expenses, and this variance can turn a potential cash-flow positive property into a cash-flow negative property.

I have rented in the city for years, but only recently did I have to start paying for my own water.  The first bill was shocking to me (about $300 per month and billed after 4 months in the apartment, which is a 2bd/2br).  I have appealed this with NOSWB and they are evaluating it.

2 questions:
1) What is an expected water bill for a 2/2 apartment in a duplex, triplex, or fourplex?
2) Is it common to find multifamily properties with split water meters, so that the tenant pays for water?  If so, this would make my math much easier.

Thank you everyone.

I have a triplex and my water was in the $500 range. I would suggest you find the water meter and compare the reading on the meter to your bill. I found a 60thousand gallon discrepancy doing this. This comparison will be the easiest way to know if the charges are in error. I did the same and my bill is around $200 with the expectation of a max of 300. Another thing to consider is that Orleans parish includes higher rates for sanitation of other added fees that guarantees an $100 bill, depending on how many units you are being charged for, even with zero usage.

Hey Corey,

I house hack a 3/1 duplex in Mid City. My SWB bill is usually a little over $100 for 3 people who are all conscious of water usage. Bear in mind this cost also includes the $24 monthly expense for trash removal as set forth by SWB. 

As far as you making it a cash flowing rental property, make sure you have separate meters, and pass this expense to the tenant. You shouldn't even have to factor this expense in your decision. To answer your 2nd question, I find that renters in dwellings under the commercial size typically pay their water bills. 

Wow thanks everyone.  Sounds like I should be estimating about $100/unit to be conservative, but ideally finding a place with separate meters so that the tenants can pay?

does anyone know if it’s possible to ask the city to separate the meters in a duplex without separate meters?

@Corey Gregg   A duplex should not cost $200/month.  I have several 2/1 duplexes with only one meter (so I have to pay water/sewage/trash) and I pay around $135-150/month for the property.  In New Orleans, most older duplexes have one (1) meter, so you will need to pay the bill as the owner. If your lucky enough to find a property with multiple meters, the bill should be around $80/month per unit.

You can add another meter, but it is not free. There is a water meter connection fee, which runs between $2200-2500.  Then your plumber will need to separate the water service, which may or may not be easy.  I added a second meter to a duplex that I did a complete repipe, and my costs were around $3k for adding the second meter (which included the water meter connection fee and a the plumbers cost to run the new pipe from the house to the meter whip.