Renovation Fail

“Dear PoP,

Owner was trying to excavate a basement. Party wall slid down the hole and brought floors with it; both the owner’s and the neighbors. DCRA had to take the roof off with a crane. The arch is the only thing keeping both houses from total collapse.

Lesson for anyone thinking of excavating their crawlspace into a full basement: don’t dig a 12 foot deep hole under your house.”

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This is on the 200 block of Morgan St, NW near Dunbar High School.

We looked at a successful basement dig out here.

A couple more photos after the jump.

25 Comment

  • Vonstallin

    one job cost mutliple houses to be closed.
    I bet they didnt have a permit to do that job, lol

  • Yikes!! That really sucks!

  • Whomever was working in that hole is lucky to be alive.

    –Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.

  • Good Deal or Not?

    High ceilings, lots of light, full-length windows, ready for owner customization! Permits in place for immediate renovation.
    Many unique architectural details. TONS of exposed brick and amazing, open vistas from BOTH levels. Huge wreck room, beautiful lot with parking space, brick sidewalk in front and ivy-covered fence in back..
    As is, needs a little TLC, but shows jaw-droppingly well. May need new heat/AC/wiring/walls/dig-out/lighting/kitchen/bedrooms/bathroom, etc.

  • There was also a gas explosion at this house – I think that was the cause of the actual collapse…well take a look at the photo on this page taken after the explosion. It looks like the explosion weakened the house and it later collapsed?

    • ah

      That story makes it sound like the leak resulted from the collapse. No surprise a gas pipe might have gotten bent when everything falls into a big pile.

      Is the “Legal Question of the Day” for tomorrow: “What is my recourse when my neighbor causes our common wall to collapse?”

      • PLEASE have this be the “Legal Question of the Day”; I share a party wall with a neighbor and am fairly certain his house is falling into the ground.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      This was not the result of a gas explosion.

      • Gas explosion had to contribute – check out the City Paper story – photo shows house still relatively intact but notes part of it had collapsed…I think just more of it collapsed later. The explosion was just a couple days ago.

  • Finally, PoP does a Door of the Day when we get judge BOTH sides of the door. This site is really evolving…

  • feel sorry for the neighbor 🙁

  • OMG! +1 for the detached houses of greater Petworth. Crikey!

  • I feel sorry for the owner. I live on the block and met his brother and brothers girlfriend on the street the night of the collapse and he said that his brother/the owner was so excited to restore this house that has been vacant for 20+ years. and that the owner just heard he is getting deployed for a year starting this summer.

    they seem like great people. damn basement digger not following the permits.

  • I think the “+1” for detached homes (in Petworth) was in favor of not having common walls. Which your neighbor can use to put your home at risk.

  • Having building permits is one thing, having the RIGHT building permits is another. It’s really common for someone to get a permit for very little work, post it in the window, gut a house, and then never get inspections.

  • There’s a steel lintel keeping brick work in place as if there were plans to do a wall knock out. It doesn’t look like the back wall collapsed but was purposely removed below the lintel.

  • steel lintel installed to support the second story brickwork while the first story brickwork was demo’d so a bobcat earth-mover could get under the house and excavate.

  • Folks, as a resident of that neighborhood, there was NO gas explosion at that site – just a gas leak which was quickly cut off. The damage you are seeing in the pictures is from 1) the second floor collapsing onto the first and 2) the work crew removing the collapsed portions of the buildings. The street was closed fo ra few days while the crews removed portions of the buildings and secured the area.

  • A single construction crew has dug out several basements on the street. Does anyone know if this was the same crew?

    For reference, here’s a picture of a place in the same row four doors down being dug out last summer.


  • isn’t this house being renovated by david garber, of flip’t fame?

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