LAUNDRY IN CONDOS BUILDINGS
In-Suite vs Shared Laundry
Buyers looking to buy a condo building have surely come across the decision on whether or not they have to compromise on the possibility of in suite laundry. Let’s break down why not every building has in suite laundry, why you can’t assume you can add it and what that means for your future home!
As you know, Vancouver has a large percentage of older condo buildings, often in the most popular neighbourhoods (it takes decades for an area to develop that sense of community you’re looking for!) These “old” buildings were built in the 1970s and 1980s (though certain areas of Vancouver have even older buildings), with newer buildings thrown in the mix, often along the major thoroughfare streets.
These older buildings were built prior to in suite laundry being a necessity, and given the age, they were built with different materials and designs (often sturdier than a lot of buildings built in the 1990s!). Every building was built with shared laundry facilities, usually in a room on the parkade level but some condos do have the shared laundry room on various floors of the building. These shared laundry rooms have both washers and dryers, and can be free to use or may have a small fee payable by coins and sometimes reloadable cards (I’ve seen up to $3 per load).
One question you’ll want to ask when you’re looking to buy a condo where you’ll have to use the shared laundry facility is how many machines are there compared to the number of units in the building. That can dictate if the facilities will be quite busy on a regular basis.
ADDING IN SUITE LAUNDRY TO YOUR CONDO
Some condo buildings are starting to allow owners to add in suite laundry to their unit, but there are a lot of considerations to make with regards to this option.
First, you will only be able to add a washing machine and a ventless dryer, which is often in a 2-in-1 style machine. No condo building in the city would allow you to cut a hole in the building’s exterior to vent out the dryer, so you’ll have to use the ventless type. The bad news is they take much longer to dry your clothes, especially if you’re drying sheets and towels (in that situation you can use the shared laundry facilities to dry your clothes faster). The good news is they won’t dry out your clothes too much which will keep your clothes in better condition.
Second, not every condo building was built with the pipes and drains to withstand the force of in suite laundry, and herein lies the biggest problem. In order to find out if your building can handle in suite laundry in your unit (and potentially others) you need to bring in a plumbing engineer to determine if the system can handle the added load (pun intended).
You will also need space in a closet or cupboard (big enough to fit the machine) that is close to an existing plumbing source so you can tie the laundry into the drain. Most older condos buildings have large storage closets beside the bathroom, so it’s often possible.
Finally, you will need strata approval. Given that adding in suite laundry does significantly affect the common plumbing system, the strata will need to give their approval for the system, and may set stipulations for the type of machine you can use.
One caveat to adding in suite laundry to your unit: even if the strata gives you permission to add the in suite laundry, if it proves to be an issue on the building’s common plumbing system, the strata can force you to remove the machines.
Moral of the Story: If the building wasn’t built with in suite laundry, you have to be okay with shared laundry. Adding in suite laundry is a bonus!