Home Projects in PoPville – Vol. 27

“Dear PoP,

Here are some pics of the roof deck we just finished in the bloomingdale/truxton area. it provided a GREAT view of both the main fireworks show a few weeks back and the local show that was poppin on our street corner all night on the 4th.”

Looks awesome! Def. a best spot for a morning cup of coffee and/or mojito contender.

If anyone else has a renovation project they’d be willing to share send a few before and after photos to princeofpetworth(at)gmail(dot)com and if you’d be willing please share a rough cost estimate and what contractors/materials were used.

69 Comment

  • Sweet. Anyone know how difficult the permitting is? Is it as simple as building a deck?

  • Love the choice of seating!

  • Looks Great!

  • That’s really beautiful. I’d like to know what that clear tabletop thing is. I like it.

  • Where did you get the outdoor furniture and, if you don’t mind me asking, how much was it? I’m in the market and like the look of that couch and futon/table.

    • If you’re looking for something smaller/less expensive I recently got this set for my front patio and absolutely love it. We get tons of compliments from people passing by.


      • At the beginning of summer I bought some great outdoor chairs from Big Lots. They’re extremely comfortable and were about $65/piece, about half the price that I saw similar pieces elsewhere (Target, Home Depot, etc). Not sure if they have the outdoor couches, but might be worth a look.

      • Thanks for the Hayneedle link, Anonymous 11:24! That set looks very attractive.

        • You’re welcome. It was $100 cheaper when I bought it a month ago, but I still think it’s a good deal and hopefully you can find a good coupon code.

  • Nice pictures, but this would be a lot more interesting and helpful with information on cost, materials, permitting, methods, etc.

  • I like it a lot. Congrats.

  • This is just showing off. Whoo hoo, look at MEEEE I’m rich! Here’s to me and the hell with you-ism.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Uh no it’s not because I requested these photos. Clearly the owner is psyched and wants to share his joy but these posts are helpful to readers who are looking to do similar projects.

      • To take it beyond a random picture that looks nice (and it looks great!), it would be really helpful if the post or the person with the deck could provide some more information in the comments that would actually be helpful, such as costs, who they used, how long it took, any challenges or hurdles to overcome, and any other tips.

      • My apology-so you don’t have to look at my blog (let’s not encourage my bad behavior).

        I had a down morning. Fringe is over. Wondering what to do next. So I read my morning blogs- the usual: Consumerist, Jezebel, Frum Satire. On Prince of Petworth, I see someone’s roof deck paradise. I look at my studio apartment. I look at myself. I get sick of what I think is the usual “rich people showing off”. I don’t even read. I get blind rage-y. It turns out to be someone just posting about their roof deck installation. Yup. I stuck my foot in it. For all I know they could have gotten the umbrella and furniture at a deep discount. Yup, I’m sorry.

    • Although sometimes the occasional reader post gives me the impression that someone was showing off, I didn’t get that feeling from the OP on this one.

      (And that was _before_ PoP mentioned that he requested those photos.)

      I did find myself thinking, “That looks really nice. I wonder how much it cost?”

      • Even if they were showing off, who cares? I think it’s great that they are sharing their success with everyone. It helps a lot of people get information for their own renovations, get motivation to actually do it, and aren’t we all neighbors? Don’t these improvements really help everyone here?

    • While the actuality of whether this is showing off is in considerable doubt… your bs is rather naked and ugly jealousy. Sorry your life sucks (briefly browsed your blog) but you dont have to try to bring others down.

      Get some counseling. K? Thanks!

    • You don’t read this blog very often do you?

    • You are being an ass. Somebody did a WHOLE lotta work, and probably scrimped to save up for what ended up something he/she’s really proud of. Be ashamed of yourself; I know I am ashamed for you.

    • WTF says WTF. I mean the person probably works hard for their money and is proud of the addition they made to their home. Stop hating.

  • Can the sender please tell us what contractor did this beautiful work?

  • Well done. Great spot.

    Speaking generally, is there any way to find out who does the renovations in what are clearly flipped homes? How does one know whether the renovation was done legit, or was a slap dash job?

    • Learn construction techniques or hire a general contractor for 2 hours to walk you through the house.

      My buddy who’s a contractor can deconstruct someone else’s work in about 2 minutes.

  • Fantastic job. It’s a great spot.

  • Where are the planters from? They look very nice (as do the plants!).

  • Looks great! Is that the same umbrella they use at Cork Wine Bar?

  • aw man! I can’t wait until I’m a real person and can do home improvement projects.

  • permits how do you get them

  • Yes, please provideus with the builder info and idea about costs. thanks

    • “Provideus”: the Greek god of contracting and estimating rooftop deck projects.

      Thanks be to you, oh Great and Lofty (pun intended) Provideus, for granting us the strength to carry pressure treated lumber up three flights of stairs!

  • My biggest question with roof decks is how do the main support beams, that go from parapet wall to parapet wall, actually affix to the structure. I dont want to compromise my roofing membrane, so I was wondering what kinds of fasteners/washers/coatings are used to seal up the holes once you penetrate the membrane and go down into the brick.

    Anyone know?

    • Typically you epoxy long bolts into the brick parapet with metal tie downs. The wood joists bolt into the tie downs.

      I’m sure there are other ways, as well.

  • hey there…this is my deck…glad to see that y’allz like it…not braggin [though we’re proud of it] but looking to share the hard work.

    per your requests, some details

    cost: around $25k [furnishings not incl] actual deck is 15k…additional items are about 10k [see below]
    time: 6 months [permitting took most of that time, about 4-5 weeks to build the deck and support structure]

    permitting: took about 4 months. DC is slooow. [newsflash!] steps:

    1-you’ll need to inform both homeowners on either side of you [assuming a rowhouse] that you’re doing work on the “party walls”

    2-hire a contractor to work out the plan before you get them drawn up
    my contractor is/was awesome. fair priced, no-nonsense, reliable. they also do home guts/flips etc. large jobs are their forte.

    Fontaine/Durand LLC – 202.437.6413 – ask for Andre

    3 – get an architect to draw up plans, get stamps from an engineer. you will need to pull the “plats” for the land to give to the architect to do their drawings. [$2k]

    4- wait. and call. and wait some more. you’ll get approved eventually.

    *for this whole process, I used an “expediter” to do the nitty-gritty work. a few extra bucks out of pocket, but well worth the time in not tracking down the myriad of people that you need to get approvals from etc. ask your contractor about getting one of these guys on the case…they are worth it.

    5-once you’re approved, you can start the work. DO NOT START WORKING BEFORE YOU GET THE PERMIT. all it takes is one DCRA dude havin a bad day to make your life a living hell. [and expensive]

    6 – we had to also get mansonry work done to build up the party walls at the deck site. it allows for the deck to be, essentially, suspended above the roof membrane [so it doesnt get punctured] and rainwater can drop through the deck and down the roof as normal. [$3k]

    7 – electricity: we wanted some hard-wired lights up there, so its important to bring in an electrician before the deck is completed so they can rough-in the lights and outdoor sockets. dont discount the need for juice up there, unless you dont mind running a 100′ orange cord out of a window to your roof. not a great look. [$1k]

    8 – stairs: with a separate contractor, we installed a spiral iron staircase from the rear of the home to the roof. its important to get this right. there are some pre-fab stairs you can buy online that cost less, but are not as strong once you need to go up over 10′ in the air. if you value safety, use this guy: Leeco Kim – 571/275-6989. [he can be a bit hard to understand on the phone, but does GREAT ironwork at THE BEST prices…believe me, we shopped around [$3k]

    as with all projects, be patient…and communicate with your contractors about $$$ and timelines etc. that can not only save you money, but time and hurt feelings etc.

    furniture: costco
    planters: CB2
    tabletop: 3/4″ plexiglass [so they skylight isnt blocked out]

    what did I miss?

    • ha. party walls. love it.

    • on the stairs, how high did Leeco Kim make your steps for 3k?

    • Also, how many sq ft is the deck, all together?

    • bfinpetworth

      One question that arises for me – once you have a deck like this, which I would love to do someday, how do you deal with a roof leak? Do you have to pull up the decking to repair?

      • Great question, one that I’ve wondered myself.

        One thing, the roof wont leak nearly as quickly. It will have far less sun on it, far less accidental trauma, far less wind, far less everything…

        Also, I imagine, using bolts and screws and few nails and glue will help tremendously. Also, if you build the party walls up as the OP is suggesting, you could create a crawl space.

        All that said, what do people with roof decks normally plan to do in the event of a leak?

    • Thanks, man. Exactly what every one of these things should be.

      One additional question: seems like you went with a spiral stairway up from an existing deck as opposed to cutting a hole in the roof and entering the deck from inside the house. Can you lay out why you went that direction? Was it cost, structural, or somehing else? (And yeah, I get nervous on spiral staircases, particularly given the activities in which I and my guests would likely engage while on a roofdeck as sweet as this.)

      Again, a seriously nice addition to your home: this is exactly what I’ve long thought about doing, and 25k actually is a reasonable cost. Thanks for sharing.

    • Truxton_Dude,

      All I want to say is I’m your neighbor (same side of the street, so no sweet 4th story) and I am incapacitated with jealousy.

    • The deck looks great but could you take a few more pics. I would like to see the spiral steps. I have little to no yard as you know the city owns the front and side yards so I can’t do much. I would love to build something like this because it seems so private and adds value to your home. Are you able to do any cooking/grilling on the rooftop deck?


  • Emmaleigh504


  • I disagree with crabby guy above. OP isn’t showing off, we’ve requested renovation photos/stories from PoP for a while. I for one love seeing photos like these, I have absolutely no imagination and plan on using stuff like this to give me ideas for my own place. Looks like OP got a little slice of heaven up there!

  • It’s beautiful–love, love, love it. We’ve toyed around with the idea of adding a roof deck but I wonder how often we’d actually use it. I’m assuming you’re not using your roofdeck with it’s 100 degrees out; or even 90 degrees outside.

    I hope you enjoy lots of cool evenings up there!

  • Thanks for the info on the builder and costs. I would love to hear from anyone else about recommendations for roofdeck contractors (who work in DC) and costs for their projects.

  • OP: Thank you very much for that great level of detail. It is beautiful!

  • PoP and OP – just saying thanks – awesome post! Please keep them up.

  • Looks awesome!

  • wow…lots of responses. here are some more answers

    1 – roof fixing: someone already answered this i think, but we left enough of a crawl space under the deck to allow for roof repair [God forbid]. but we could pull up some planks if there was a serious problem, i suppose…its only pressure treated lumber.

    btw: we do feel an apparent cooling effect on the house b/c of the roof canopy.

    2 – how its supported: 10″ lag bolts are drilled into the brick parapet wall. then a 2″ x 10″ is attached to that [along the face of the brick wall] then you can use metal fasteners to place the other 2 x 10’s perpendicular to initial wood framing. so there’s a large underpinning up there even before the deck is laid. also, the initial framing is done to keep the deck level from front to back, unlike a flat roof, which is pitched. so there’s a larger gap btw deck and roof in back than in front.

    3 – steel staircase is a total of 28ft off the ground. [14ft of it has steps] there is a deck in the rear of the house so we can access the upper level from there. we had him run steel all the way to the ground for maximum support. cutting a hole in the house was not in the cards, b/c it would have eaten up valuable interior space.

    4 – deck is comfortable at 90degrees, since its about 7-10 degrees cooler up there with the breeze etc. and: no bugs! [well, alot fewer]

    5 – deck is around 450sq ft

    6-neighbor: some say hi sometime…we’ll grab a cold one up top

    • Hi OP- if you’re still checking comments, would love to know if your contractor helped you ID an architect and engineer? If not, how did you find them? I can’t figure it out somehow. We’ve been planning to do this very thing and your post was SUPERhelpful. Thanks!

      • call my guy Cliff @ 202-705-1453
        he can walk you through the permits and get you hooked up with an architect & engineer. there are 2 routes to go with this: you can do the basic layout yourself and then have the architect refine that, and make it into a real drawing for approval. then the engineer will stamp/approve it. then the city approves it.
        Thats Cliff’s specialty [it keeps costs down] I did not go the 2nd route: having an architect design it etc. that adds alot of cost. a roof deck is a pretty basic thing, the structural underpinning is really the most important thing. i’d save the $$$ and design it yourself, then Cliff can help you get permits etc.

  • Hey, that’s my neighbors deck and it is really that lovely. I need to get back up their int the near future to bask in its greatness.

    Gotta give my props to Truxton_Dude for doing such a great job with all the renovations.

  • Truxton Dude,

    I was lucky enough to enjoy your roof deck for the fireworks. You guys have done such an inspiring job with your place. Made my day to see the photos featured on PoP!

  • Truxton Dude,
    I was so surprised/excited to see these photos on POP! It was a blast watching the fireworks from your roof deck. Thanks again to both of you for such a fun night!

  • Congrats! The roof deck looks amazing! I have been considering a similar project and am very interested to see how you handled the access. Do you have any additional pics on Flickr or similar site that show the spiral staircase and access?

  • The deck looks great but could you take a few more pics. I would like to see the spiral steps. I have little to no yard as you know the city owns the front and side yards so I can’t do much. I would love to build something like this because it seems so private and adds value to your home. Are you able to do any cooking/grilling on the rooftop deck?


  • How do you get up there? Is it access through the ceiling of the top floor or is there an outside staircase?

    Looks great.


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