Dear PoP – Major Problems with Recent Pop Up Featured

“Dear PoP,

The pop up at 9th and I NE that you featured a week or two ago got messed up by the winds. Last night the block was cordoned off as fire and others tried to figure out what to do. Then later contractors were there putting up bracing, but it looks like the structure is in big trouble.”

That was serious wind. Do you think they have to start over from scratch or can this be salvaged?

14 Comment

  • Hopefully the structure just blows down and the owners and contractors slither away in shame for attempting such a horrific idea.

  • While I know it probably isn’t as strong as it’s supposed to be when it’s finished – I don’t know if it would have survived anyway!

  • If only this would happen to other pop up horrors.

  • How is it that something so obviously deficient in structure is allowed to be built in this city, when acquiring the necessary permits for nearly any construction is such a daunting task?

    • The fact that it was partially completed meant that the covered roof probably acted like an airfoil lifting and twisting the supports. Once closed in and covered in drywall, I doubt it would have suffered the same damage.

      Without looking at it though, it would be impossible to know for sure.

  • I guess this is just proof that God hates pop-ups.

  • ah

    Salvageable. The roof looks fine, it’s the stud walls that bent.

    Anything like this has to get approval from a structural engineer in order to obtain permits. Since it wasn’t fully built not all of the structural components were in place. In most cases the walls, including the sheathing (i.e., plywood underlayment) provide a lot of structural rigidity and that isn’t on yet fully.

    • Can you explain more? I know nothing about building, but this looks like what we used to slap up for a playhouse in the woods. Shouldn’t there be more to the walls -like strong things to hold them up? Even early on?

      • ah

        It looks like there would be but they hadn’t done it yet. All those pieces of OSB/plywood don’t appear to have been put on properly/finally, but if they were doing it right they would be. 2x4s alone won’t hold a structure up against the wind. You have to tie it together with the plywood so that you build up the shear strength.

        Think of it this way–if you built a wall with just four boards-top, bottom, and two sides, a child could push it out of square. But if you nail plywood across all those boards it’s a lot harder to push it out of square. Then repeat that for each side of a box, which is basically what this is (or would be).

        The problem is that the builders seem not to have nailed on the siding yet, and got caught with some really high winds. Ordinarily you’d be fine but not when winds like that hit it. What made it worse is it seems they had siding on some sides but not all–we call that a sail, so even worse–there was basically no lateral strength.

        Anyway–this could be poor construction or it could be construction that got really unlucky with the timing. The fact that the roof is using 2x12s suggests they’re not going totally cheap and may actually have build this for some strength. On the other hand, the fact that it fell over suggests they’re idiots.

  • Sooooo ghetto.

  • Just because somebody gets permits doesn’t mean they build according to the permits. Then they hire a crooked Third Party Inspection company to do all the post-build inspections. DCRA accepts the Third Party Inspection without blinking. Done and done.

    That structure is racked and twisted. They have to straighten it square and plumb and re-nail every connection. Might as well start over.

    But they’re probably crooked, will straighten it square and plumb, not re-nail anything but maybe add some better late-than-never wind bracing and get back on track with their original plan (see paragraph #1).

  • I’m an architect and one thing the structural plan reviewers at DCRA *always* look for is wind bracing. (The design wind speed in DC is 90 mph–twice the gusts that we’ve experienced in recent days.) The lateral wind bracing looks marginal, even if the sheathing were on it. It looks like the plans should have included a steel wind brace or two with such large opening on the ends of the addition.

  • What can homeowners do to help prevent the construction of these poorly designed pop-ups in the city. I am not against building up, but there needs to be some kind of design review so that the addition complements the oringinal architecture and the character of the neighborhood. The choice and approval of the finished building materials would be most helpful. Most of these pop-ups look like outhouses/port-o-potties sitting on top of the roof.

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