I’ve followed your columns for years. I’m also a small owner of a 3-family in NYC. I’m also a certified sprinkler inspector, and my house has sprinklers in the stairwell.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think that sprinklers are very cost effective. Installation is 20-40k here; probably more in SF due to seismic issues. At least in NYC, inspecting the sprinkler costs roughly $700 for the basic inspections, several hundred for the annual inspections. Worse yet, my guess is that more houses are actually destroyed by malfunctioning sprinklers than are saved by them.
Before you dismiss that out of hand, bear in mind that a typical domestic water source uses a 1″ pipe. My sprinkler is 2.5″; it can flood the house in a few minutes, and because sprinkler pipe is harder to work with than regular pipe, finding people to fix them is difficult.
Worse yet, tenants hang things from the sprinklers, breaking them, and painters have to be super-careful lest they paint over them.
But the big PITA is the inspections — in theory once per month according to the national fire prevention association, and the person has to be licensed. For a 2-family, this adds around $50/month per apartment, plus it takes a lot of time for the landlord/super to manage… that’s not easily affordable for a lot of people.
Craig RocheFiled under: Letters to the Editor