In-unit washers and dryers aren’t standard amenities in NYC apartments. While you can expect to find at least a stackable unit in most luxury-priced apartments, those in lower price points tend to rely on either building laundry rooms or external laundry services.
But why is that the status quo? Why do most New York apartments lack washers and dryers?
Many NYC buildings’ plumbing infrastructure is too old and can’t handle the additional capacity needed for each apartment to have in-unit washers and dryers. If the building happens to allow a renovation that allows for laundry facilities, it still may not be possible to add them because of wet over dry rules.
Many residential buildings in Manhattan were built in the late 1800s or early 1900s before it was common to have washing machines and clothes dryers in apartments. These buildings were meant to accommodate hand washing dishes, bathing, and not a whole lot else. But that’s not always the whole story – let’s take a closer look.
There’s Not Enough Room
A typical laundry room is realistically used infrequently, compared to other areas of an NYC apartment, so many apartment owners opt to use the space more efficiently. Why pay for space 100% of the time when you could use it for a larger closet, extra bathroom, etc?
While it’s possible to squeeze small stackable washers and dryers in most closets, the load size will likely end up so small that owners or tenants would rather take their laundry to a laundromat or pay a laundry service to take care of it all at once.
Wet Over Dry
The “Wet-Over-Dry” rule states that wet rooms, like bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry rooms, need to be placed directly above wet rooms in other units. This way, in the event of an overflow or water damage, the water will (theoretically) be contained to the wet rooms.
All co-op and condo buildings require owners to submit renovation plans before starting any work. This allows those managing the building to check for any potential issues. You can sometimes find whether or not your building allows wet-over-dry in your building’s information online, or you can always ask your building’s super.
It’s Too Expensive
Many owners or tenant/shareholders would like to add in-unit washers and dryers, but the cost is also somewhat prohibitive. Just imagine trying to renovate the plumbing (and electrical!) in a building in the middle of Manhattan, full of residents, without disturbing every single apartment…it’s just not possible.
It also certainly wouldn’t be cheap. Renovations in NYC have more red tape and regulations than most other places in the world, both of which add to the total bill. Just to add a washer or dryer, you have to file for permits with the Department of Buildings, not to mention clear things with your board.
Each washing machine must be connected to a water supply, a large capacity drainage system, and a dedicated electrical circuit. Additionally, each dryer needs to be vented directly to the exterior of the building and cleaned regularly to avoid fires.
The cost of adding all of the required infrastructure for washers and dryers to buildings not originally designed for them is not manageable for a lot of New Yorkers.
There Are Existing Drainage Issues
If an apartment building, or even a specific unit within an apartment building, has existing drainage issues, it is unlikely the building will allow washers and dryers.
The sheer volume of water that washing machines use can make any existing pipe and drainage problems so much worse. To illustrate just how much water washers use, an average toilet uses between 1.5-3 gallons per flush, while washing machines can use up to 30 gallons per load.
If the existing pipes in the building aren’t rated for that level of flow, you’ll end up with problems both in fueling the washer with enough water to run and draining the water quickly enough after the load is finished washing.
There Are Better Laundering Solutions
Laundry is a fact of life – everyone has to do it (or have someone else do it). Many buildings that don’t allow washers and dryers in each apartment will have laundry facilities just for their residents. But that still means you have to lug your laundry down and sit with it until it’s finished.
If your building doesn’t have laundry facilities, you might find yourself making frequent trips to the laundromat. There are many available in all areas of the city, but again…you have to pack up your laundry, get it there, and sit with it until it’s clean.
That’s why so many people opt for wash and fold services instead. Some even offer pickup and delivery, and can even interface with your doorman (if your building has one).
Interested in wash and fold laundry services? Here are the top 10 rated services on Yelp as of the time of writing!
Need help finding apartments with washers and dryers? Please reach out! The members of the Gasdaska Conlon Team would be thrilled to work with you.