Renovation #2 is the renovation I am most proud of. It is the renovation where I went down to the bricks and the joists. I replaced the floors, changed up some of the radiators, and completely changed the floorplan. Since it was such a big project, I’m dividing this into a couple of posts.
Let’s start with the permits. I was able to get the permit myself, with my own drawings. The poor Sikh gentleman at DCRA was patient with me, pointed out things I needed to correct and I think he really wished I had used an architect. But I sort of did. Ira, my architect neighbor, had given me a book on how to draw up plans and advice. This was 2007 so no Google Sketch-up, I hand drew the plans. So I got permit, and it cost me $1000. Just for the permit. All the permits are up on SCOUT, so anyone can look at them.
Then there was the money. I vaguely remember budgeting $87K for the project. It wound up costing around $100K. I had a sweet loan with Countrywide where the 30 year loan had a very low interest rate for the time because of the DC Housing Finance office. But for this project I refinanced with a bank and wound up with a higher rate. My mortgage went from $600 a month to over a thousand. It was worth it. I may explore in another post why I can dare to try to sell a house I bought for $108K for $750K.
With any large project like this there were unfortunate discoveries made when all was demolished away. One scary thing were joists that at some point in the past had been hacked away to make room for plumbing. Or joists rotted from leaks in the bathroom. I had told our Realtor we didn’t mess with the joists, but looking back at construction photos, those were replaced. Another scary thing was the big hole in the load bearing wall, hidden by a false wall. Anyway, I fixed, or had things fixed and made decisions that made the costs creep up.
People would say old houses had good bones. Because of unhappy discoveries the contractor found hidden behind the walls and ceilings, that saying I found to be an annoying lie. You don’t know until you go down to the bricks and joists. The bones are now fine.
So my neighbor, the former architect current artist, IT invited me to join him for an open house in the Truxton Circle neighborhood, 210 P St NW. These are the Clover Court Condos, and the start near a million dollars. There were 2 of the 4 units staged, with one being open and un-staged.
Let me start with the bad and get that out of the way. The price is in the square footage, though some of that seems wasted in some ways. IT was not in agreement with some of the layout decisions. I found a few things not up to par for the price tag. And we both spotted things that didn’t make sense for the way people might occupy the space. One of the toilets in unit #4 is is a very tight alcove where it is very likely someone is going to constantly hit the towel rack. And the alcove is super tight, no linebackers in the can here. The basement wells for unit #1 do let in lots of light but the view and space is lacking. I suggested a mural or plants. The problem with plants in that and the balcony and the roof deck is where is a water source?
Units 3 and 4 have roof deck access. IT has told me on previous occasions that roof decks need things or else they will mainly go unused. You need water and electrical outlets and it helps to have some shelter. There is a tiny room at the top of the stairs, pictured right. It needs an electrical outlet for a fridge. We did not notice any water spigots on the roof. At the price point, one might expect these things on the rooftop space.
Okay the good stuff.
It’s got a turret. You do not need to get rid of the turret (hear that 319 R St NW?!). Just clad that puppy with some metal and build a roof deck around it. We wandered into unit #3 and noticed that there is nothing on the inside to point to the turret up above. IT had looked for some glass to see if it was being used as a light source. Nope.
Oh, you probably want to know what is the good stuff for a buyer. Well as I said there is lots of space inside. Unit #1 has 1,921 square feet, unit #3 2,245 square feet, and unit #4 a whopping 2,331 square feet. There was so much space I got disoriented and lost in the units. The price is in the wealth of space. You want fancy stuff like an outdoor kitchen, or water spigots, you’re gonna have to put that in yourself.
For unit #4, there is definitely a million dollar plus view. The top of the Washington Monument is visible and unobstructed. IT said you could have a 4th of July fireworks viewing party and charge admission. Seriously, any of you folks with private decks with a view of the monument in the TC or Mid-City Shaw wanna charge me to see the fireworks email me. Just tell me if I need to bring my own water.
So the Bates Area Civic Association (BACA) voted to support Plan B, which was building a distinct 3rd floor and a new turret, that looks like a little hat (See The Turret is Plan B). It was what the ANC and the residents of the 1700 block of 4th and Richardson apparently agreed on.
The developers ‘threatened’ that they could by right raze the building. Maybe. I don’t know if it would have been worth it because if the building were razed there would be no need to stick to Plan A either and they would have had to be within 60-62% of lot coverage. The current structure is about 70 something of lot coverage.
Anyway, I am still sad that the plan does not incorporate the turret like 1721 4th St does.
It looks less like a pop up.
Here is a newer picture I took a few days ago of 1721-1717 4th St NW. The building on the left is 1721, and it includes a pop up. The blue building in the middle is an original Wardman, minus some roof vents that existed earlier. The building on the right is 21st century infill. The one with the popup has a mix of historic charm and more square footage, the middle, has the historic charm and details, and new one, plain and has that extra floor. The buildings on the left and right do rise above the one in the middle but the heigh difference isn’t too drastic or jarring.
What 1721 does is use that old mansard roof and expands on it. There are other additions in Truxton Circle that add a floor. There is a popup on the 1600 block of fourth street that blends in well. I can’t seem to get a good photo of it because there are two trees that block the view, and maybe the trees help obscure the popup.
I’m still trying to make up my mind regarding this pop up on 3rd and Q. It isn’t horribly ugly, it isn’t charming either. It might grow on me like the Darth Vader house at 1651 New Jersey Avenue NW.
I’m afraid that the 319 R St developers will go with ugly…. 1500 block of 3rd Street ugly. This particular ugly has been slapped by the market’s invisible hand for being so dang ugly.
There will be a BACA meeting Monday July 10th to discuss 319 R Street among other things. There was no meeting July 3rd because of the 4th.
So the ANC sent the developers (Fred Schnider Investment Group) proposal to her residents and looking at the plans, Plan A has a 3rd story, no turret. Plan B has the turret.
But it looks in Plan B like the turretted style is a tad ugly. There is some vacant space between the turret and the top floor windows. In Plan A (not shown here) there is a small row of windows, that fills the space between the turret and the larger 3rd floor windows. I wanted to like it but, it could look better. I’d approve of this less than flattering Plan B.
I was hoping for something like 1721 4th Street where the turret was incorporated into the 3rd floor. Also Plan B would have them destroying the old turret and us hoping that they bother to rebuild the odd little hat of a turret to go back on.
The other problem, I’m just now noticing is how it looks against the adjoining buildings. Currently three of the other houses along R Street NW are vacant investments gone bad. So there isn’t anyone in those buildings to cry foul. The transition from 319 to 317 is abrupt.
I might suggest a bit of a mansard like roof, with an opening for a deck, and the rooftop space on top. It would mean fewer windows on the top corner. But it could also make the transition from 319 to 317 less obvious and make the 3rd floor with the roof top entrance look less like a pop up.