Buying a washer and dryer is a seemingly simple task. However, for New York City’s apartment dwellers, it is a complicated endeavor. This impacts everyone that resides in an apartment, whether you are a renter, co-op shareholder, or condo owner.
We provide a roadmap to you in order for you to better prepare yourself.
Am I allowed?
The first question to ask is whether you are permitted to have a washer and dryer. It seems incongruous, but many New York City buildings do not allow a washer and/or dryer in any of its apartments. There are solid reasons for this, however. Certain buildings may not have adequate plumbing or other conditions that allow the appliances to function correctly. Management may fear leaks and fires, even if the proper infrastructure is in place. This situation not only affects you but other apartments as well.
In some cases, your co-op or condo board, or landlord, may permit some units to have a washer and dryer, while disallowing it in others. While this seems unfair, the board or landlord may have solid practical reasons, such as better drainage in certain apartments.
Therefore, if you are interested in buying these appliances, find out if the building permits it, and whether you can put in your own unit.
Consider your options if the board/landlord disallows the appliances. Perhaps your building has machines, and you find this an acceptable alternative. If not, learn where the nearest laundromat is, and whether this works for you. Otherwise, there are services you can use, but this could get pricey.
Buying a machine
If you have received the board’s blessing, you cannot purchase any type of machine, particularly dryers. You likely need to purchase an electric dryer since gas ones require access to an outside vent.
Installing the machines
Generally, you need to have the machines installed either in your bathroom or kitchen or close by. Space is a premium in New York City, so you may wish to consider stackable units, or a washer/dryer combination.
For a new washer or dryer, you are going to need a permit from the New York City Department of Buildings. A licensed plumber has to do the work.
However, while it is an additional expense, there are ways to make the washer and dryer look nice, while also serving a practical function. You can build a special cabinet for the unit in your kitchen, particularly for a combination washer/dryer.
This is a nice option if your square footage is constrained. Another option is to repurpose space for the units, although this works best if you are not concerned about using the square footage for this purpose. One suggestion is to use extra closet space.
Buying a washer and dryer does not come cheap, however. The cost of new plumbing and electrical can cost several thousand dollars. The machines’ prices vary, depending on the model and which features you desire.
However, if you own the unit, this likely adds value. One expert estimates a 5% boost to your resale value. Additionally, you have a distinguishing selling point. Of course, you also benefit from the convenience of having your own washer and dryer.