Dear PoP – How much does a tasteful pop up actually cost?

“Dear PoP,

I’ve also thought about doing a tasteful third floor addition (or pop-up, if you will) but I would build it towards the back of the house so that you can’t see it from the street and so it doesn’t ruin the historic look of my block. Anyway, my question is whether you’ve ever done a post on pop-ups similar to the one you did on basement dig-outs. I’m interested in reading about the experiences that other folks have had and how much they’ve spent to do similar projects. If it’s gonna be $100K, it would probably be worth it and I would probably see a 90% return on it. If it’s gonna be $250K on the other hand, I’m not doing it. That’s prohibitively expensive and I’d never see that money again.”

Folks have asked this question a lot but I’m not sure we’ve ever got a clear answer. For those that have had one done or are in the know – is it possible to estimate how much this project would cost? If not, any educated guesses?

10 Comment

  • i don’t understand why you don’t just get a bigger house. there’s hardly ever such thing as a “tasteful” pop-up, in my opinion.

  • Construction in DC is 250-300/sq foot, period. Finishes drive it up. ANything less and you are skimping on something. And remember Gregg’s Maxim: You can have it cheap, quick or right — pick two and only two of the three.

  • It will cost you somewhere between 100K and 250K. Call a contractor for an estimate.

    I’m being serious. The cost of a construction project like this (or really any) could vary 100% or more easily depending on who does it, what the circumstances unique to your home are, what construction materials you use, and the build quality.

    That said cahbf is right about quick, cheap or good, but your decision over which two to choose depends on what your goal is.

    Personally I think putting money into a house with the expectation of getting most of it back is entirely backwards.

    If you plan to move soon, then you’d almost always be better off not doing anything other than cosmetic work.

    If you don’t plan to move soon, the amount of money you “get back” will be driven far more by the real estate market than by your improvements.

    You should spend money on your house because you want to live in a nicer house.

  • Count me as another of those who has wondered about the cost of doing this and never received a satisfactory answer. I briefly considered it for my house several years ago, but I backed way off after realizing that (a) it likely would cost more money than I had and (b) that it would entail taking the roof off the structure for some period of time, rendering the upper floors in which I lived unliveable, probably for many weeks.

    I think Jamie is absolutely right about the wide range of estimates you’re likely to see. Anything I have wanted to get done on my home, whether a few hundred bucks or several thousands, has yielded high estimates that were at least 175% of the low estimates and often more. I also think there’s some truth in the folly of making improvements in the hope of leveraging them for a more profitable sale.

    But I totally understand the urge to do this if you plan to stay put in the home for a while and are only justifying the expense in terms of a long-term investment. “Moving bigger” is not always feasible if you want to stay in a city neighborhood but need more space. In an attached rowhome with a finished basement, the only option is building up. And if that rowhome is in a spot you truly love, you might as well build it to suit.

  • This was my question.

    I should clarify that the primary reason I would do this would NOT be for investment purposes, but rather because I want to improve what I see as a long-term home.

    I want to build a large master bedroom suite with walk-in closet, large spa-like bathroom with glass shower and jacuzzi tub.

    The existing 2nd floor isn’t really conducive to this set-up because of the existing lay-out.

    • I don’t know about the pop-up, but I can tell you that the large spa-like bathroom is going to run you at least 20k, as I’ve been pricing out that work myself.

      • oh my god, $20k EASY. I checked into that and got a quote for $40k.

        My normal bathroom with serious 100 year old house damage cost $15k.

  • There is a very tasteful pop-up on 13th street, west side, just north or Cardozo High. You can see it from the street, but I’d argue that is is very nicely done. No idea how much it cost, but maybe you could talk to those owners. I also know people who have done an invisible from the street pop-up that is beautiful.

Comments are closed.