Splitting utilities and meter costs

7 Replies

I am in San Diego building a rental studio on back of property. Permits for construction in and I’ll be given multiple addresses. I would like to split gas, electric and water to have each unit metered individually. Does anyone have any ballpark costs of the meters and permits required? I will be calling the utility companies this week however I would like some insight before I talk to them. San Diego utility companies are notorious for sucking everyone in the city dry.

@Olena Dziuba I've done it on multiple properties. Are you doing this (A) a permitted unit in a multifamily zone or (B) as an ADU?

You don't want a separate water meter from the City - far better idea to have a single water service and install your own submeter.  See: http://www.jerman.com/dljmeter.html.  The City will require this if you're doing (A).

For electric and gas, it will take quite a bit of time and coordination.  Don't underestimate it.  For electric, your electrician will install all the hardware.  Once the City inspector passes electric, SDGE will also inspect, and then come set the meter.  Pretty easy.  

In any case, I'd highly recommend placing all your electric and low voltage cabinets in the same location on the property (I assume you have overhead service). 

For gas, your plumber will set the lines and do the pressure test, City will inspect, then SDGE will investigate the service line to the property. Assuming it's fine (about 30% of the time I've had to cut part of driveway and pay for work to be done on the line for one reason or another), they'll set the meter after everything has passed. Note that code for gas meters now is FAR more strict than when most property in San Diego was built - depending on location, expect moving of lines and/or bollard installation.

Last property I did I paid about $3500 to SDGE for 2 new electric and 3 new gas meters.  Fees are not linear.  The more expensive part is always the prep work related to the utilities.

Whenever I can get away with SDGE not adding meters, I do it myself.  Since I've already got private sub-metering for water use, I don't mind also reading my private gas and electric meters as well.

Thanks for the advice. We were going for an ADU and we were given permits for a separate address.

My plumber suggested a private water meter so I think well go that route.

For electrical and gas it sounds like your advice is what I was thinking and discussing with contractors. I am worried about gas as the house was built in 1927 and we aren’t entirely sure where all the lines are run.

I want to limit cutting up cement as much as possible. The previous owner poured 50% of the back yard with cement to eliminate as much upkeep as possible.

Originally posted by @Justin R. :

@Olena Dziuba I've done it on multiple properties. Are you doing this (A) a permitted unit in a multifamily zone or (B) as an ADU?

You don't want a separate water meter from the City - far better idea to have a single water service and install your own submeter.  See: http://www.jerman.com/dljmeter.html.  The City will require this if you're doing (A).

For electric and gas, it will take quite a bit of time and coordination.  Don't underestimate it.  For electric, your electrician will install all the hardware.  Once the City inspector passes electric, SDGE will also inspect, and then come set the meter.  Pretty easy.  

In any case, I'd highly recommend placing all your electric and low voltage cabinets in the same location on the property (I assume you have overhead service). 

For gas, your plumber will set the lines and do the pressure test, City will inspect, then SDGE will investigate the service line to the property. Assuming it's fine (about 30% of the time I've had to cut part of driveway and pay for work to be done on the line for one reason or another), they'll set the meter after everything has passed. Note that code for gas meters now is FAR more strict than when most property in San Diego was built - depending on location, expect moving of lines and/or bollard installation.

Last property I did I paid about $3500 to SDGE for 2 new electric and 3 new gas meters.  Fees are not linear.  The more expensive part is always the prep work related to the utilities.

Whenever I can get away with SDGE not adding meters, I do it myself.  Since I've already got private sub-metering for water use, I don't mind also reading my private gas and electric meters as well.

 
How do you go about using private electric meters? Do you just take your main bill, do the math based on the private meter readings and add the amount to your tenant's rent?

Originally posted by @Ben I. :

 
How do you go about using private electric meters? Do you just take your main bill, do the math based on the private meter readings and add the amount to your tenant's rent?

Physically, the hardware is all standard - have an electrician install the box and route power to one unit through there. Then, buy your own meter and stick it on there.

Ongoing, I don't want to be reading a meter every month.  I'm not in the utility business.  :)  My lease says something like this:

1. The electric utility currently charges a base fee of $9.20/m + $0.22 per kWh for the first 11kWh, then $0.36 per kWh beyond that.

2. Average monthly electric usage for 3 occupants is $47/m.

3. Your monthly rent invoice will include a 'Prepaid Electric Usage' with the amount of $47.

4. When you move-out, or upon request by tenant or landlord, actual electric usage will be read on your sub-meter and an adjustment - additional cost or credit - will appear on your next rent invoice for the difference between pre-paid and actual.

Practically, I just pay the bill from the utility each month as normal.  I check the water and electric meters every couple months when I'm walking the property and snap a picture of each on my phone. As long as there's no insane use, I do nothing.  When the tenant moves out (or on the rare occasion that they request it earlier), I read the meter, do some simple math and add a delayed charge or delayed credit in Quickbooks.  Done.  The payment part is all automated from there on...

I am with Justin on this, except I bill them for electricity separately per unit based on the number of people in the unit.  Installing submeter on the "back end" of the unit #1 is very easy and pales in comparison of the cost of SD water utility installing it for you as a separate meter. 

From my personal experience having a submeter gives me another reason to visit the property at least every other month. The property that doesn't have the submeter is not visited by me as often and it shows.

Thank you for your responses, they were very helpful. This is what I will be doing on my property too. 

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