Dear PoP – Renovating the Back of a Row House

“Dear PoP,

I have those old sunroom/porches on the back of my house and want to have them redone , i.e., insulated, drywalled, siding on back of house redone, etc. basically turned into usable space. Could you ask your readers for suggestions for good contractors for that sort of job? I have called several and have gotten no responses (I thought we were in a recession and people needed work, but I guess not).”

Anyone have this done before? Any guesses to how much this would cost? And of course any recommendations on who can do the work?

20 Comment

  • I did this for my rowhouse in Columbia Heights just last year. What is your email address? I can send you details including the name of our contractor and what we paid, etc.

  • I use Innovative Home Improvement for work on my house. Their prices are very competitive and they do excellent work. I’ve never had an issue. You can call Jenny at 240-751-3840 or Gary at 240-274-2722. They own the company. I like them in particular because they keep me involved in every step of the process and they have never tried to add on hidden costs. They generally provide you a bid that includes everything and they take care of surprises or unexpected obstacles.

    • P.S. If you choose to get an estimate from them, let them know Marc sent you. I’ve developed a great relationship with them, so I’d appreciate the shout out.

  • I’ve had a few estimates for my place which is a typical 1925 rowhouse with upstairs and downstairs porches/pop outs from the original structure. Two of them came in around $3,000 for reframing, new windows and siding.

    • Hi, in response to your answer/comment. Just a quick question, did that make the rooms usable space? For example, did the heat from the house then heat them in the winter, etc? I was thinking I was going to pay about 5 times that so I am curious. Thanks.

  • On the same topic, I want to turn my 750 square foot basement space into a an apartment. I have plans that were approved by the city, now looking for a builder. I will contact the people suggested, any others will be appreciated.

  • while we’re at it, can someone recommend a good deck builder? i’m going through the process of getting the permit now, but have yet to find someone who is licensed, insured, and will actually give an estimate AND bid the job. most every contractor i’ve seen has tried to encourage me to skirt the official permit process, and that just doesn’t sit right with me.

  • i am a subscriber. i’ve had no less than 6 contractors scheduled to come out, 3 of whom showed up, 2 of whom actually bid, 1 of which whom was willing to put up with doing the job legally, but proposed so many ill-advised (ie: dangerous) cost cutting measures to appeal to me that i wouldn’t give them the job. hence, why i’m appealing to the community to give me some feedback.

    • Ah, ok. That is disappointing to hear. Well, you should check with Innovative – I don’t know if they do decks or not – they may be more whole house – but they will show up, they will give you an estimate, they do fantastic work, and they will not cut corners.

      • And just an FYI – they are out of town until next week due to a family issue, so you might not be able to reach them until then. I know this because I just spoke to Gary today about some work they are doing for me.

  • which whom facts?

  • A pet peeve, I can understand if contractors prices vary by a few thousand dollars, but when it gets into the tens of thousands you wonder. I don’t understand how these guys stay in business.

  • I’m not a contractor, but it the variation in price makes sense to me. A GC’s mark-up can fluctuate wildly according to how much he needs the work. If a company is overpriced, that tells you they’re so busy that they can afford (or would prefer) to turn down work at the moment. Likewise, a company may underbid because they’re desperate for some minimum cash flow. Watch that the low bidders aren’t hard up because of the quality of their work — lack of business due to poor work.

  • Merino Home Improvement did ours. Very satisfied with bid, costs, and work done. Stay on them about your specific wants though.

  • My company, Impact Construction & Consulting, just finished something similar in Petworth where the top space became a study off the master bedroom and the bottom was an extension of the kitchen plus a new half bath. We are booked through December, but we’d be happy to come take a look if your timeline is compatible with ours.

    We focus on sustainability, indoor air quality, and energy efficiency. Visit our website (linked from my username) to read more about us and to see some of our work. You can email me by placing “forums” and an at symbol in front of our domain name.

  • Having just gone through this process, I strongly suggest working with an architect. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but we found the architect had a ton of super good ideas and having the plans drawn up by someone else helped keep the contractor on their toes and to code. Our architect also helped us through the zoning and permit processes.

    We worked with Jennifer Fowler:

    • You needed zoning and permitting? I am not adding anything…just updating what is there. Guess there is more to this than I thought. Thanks for the advice

Comments are closed.