Condo Conversion in Columbia Heights, Washington, DC
This particular project was done in partnership with our sister company – 753 Development. The building – a 100-plus year old DC row house – was purchased in 2009, and the goal was a full gut and remodel to create two separate condos: one on each floor. The home had undergone no significant renovations since the original construction and had not aged well. Leaking water from the roof and a bathroom had caused the floor joists at both levels to rot, plaster was crumbling and windows throughout were either broken or missing. Once we pulled the necessary permits, we pursued the design and construction of the project while simultaneously completing the necessary paperwork to create two separate legal units.
Design and Layout
The goal of our design team was to create similar floor plans at both levels to include a kitchen, two full bathrooms, one powder room and three good sized bedrooms. The front of each unit where the kitchen and living room are located remained open, with the option of informal seating at the kitchen island, or formal dining at a large side table. The rear yard is shared, so access from both units was important. Because of the magnitude of the remodel, we were able to work in details such as curb-less shower stalls and reorient exterior door openings. Maximizing lighting at both levels (natural and artificial) was also important. Large skylights were specified at the second floor, and a tasteful combination of general, task and accent lighting were spread throughout the kitchen, living room, hallway and bedrooms. To take advantage of the high roofline at the front of the home, we vaulted the ceiling and installed an elevated loft space at the second floor.
Style and Finishes
Our task was two-fold: produce an industrial design with clean lines, while recreating some of the details original to the home. Though these tasks may seem diametrically opposed, our designers incorporated more industrial elements in the rear, enclosed rooms, while recreating original details at the front and more open section of each unit. For example, the original heart pine floors were salvaged at the front of the second floor unit, and the elevated loft constructed with matching heart pine salvaged from an old barn. The brick was exposed at the party wall at both levels, the entrance ways tiled with material to match what was used when the home was built, and the original trim details rebuilt throughout. For this particular project, the budget was not unlimited so creativity was required. Both kitchens were designed and built using IKEA cabinetry, as were the bedroom wardrobes and laundry room cabinets. The kitchen backsplash at the first floor was finished using magnetic chalkboard paint, and the existing exterior wall enhanced with a rain-screen and Hardie Panel system. One nifty feature was not even in the original plans, but produced by one of our onsite carpenters. He took an off-cut from a structural beam, installed it on the powder room wall, on which the sink and faucet were then mounted.
Construction and Final Product
With the exception of the floor joists towards the front of the home at the second floor, the house was fully gutted to the exterior walls. The pier footings were rebuilt, exterior foundation reworked, and new floors framed at both levels. Because the existing ½”, lead water supply line was out of compliance, it was necessary to replace this with a 1” copper line from the curb stop to the home. This is never a straight forward task, and became even more complicated when the Washington, DC Water and Sewer Authority and Miss Utility were unable to locate the curb box. This left us little choice other than to systematically dig up the entire front yard until we found the box. The electrical service required a “heavy-up”, and needed to be separated for each unit. All new plumbing, electrical wiring, and HVAC ducting was installed, along with a new roof. The bricks around the entire exterior were re-pointed, new concrete-cast window sills installed, and new windows and doors installed throughout. Because this renovation involved a full gut and rebuild, we had the opportunity to create an air tight envelope (while allowing adequate ventilation for equipment) in the interest of energy conservation. This was accomplished by using a combination of open-cell and closed-cell spray foam, rigid foam and batt insulation. In addition to sealing the buildings envelope, we insulated between floors and at interior walls in the interest of sound proofing. Once the remodeling was complete, we turned our attention to the rear yard, which required a significant dig-out, and new landscaping. See our blog of the project here: https://fourbrothers.wpengine.com/category/featured-projects/dc-row-house-remodel/.
What the Customer Said
“I can’t say enough good things about the project and the team. This was not an easy project from a design and construction standpoint, and then they had the added hassle of converting the building into two separate units. I couldn’t be happier with the final product and the process by which this was achieved.”