From the Forum – Cost of a pop-up?


Cost of a pop-up in Columbia Heights?

“Does anyone have any idea how much it costs to do a pop-up on a regular CH row home? I’d like to get an idea as to cost for the basic construction/electric/AC work of adding a bedroom and a bath – no bells and whistles. Thanks!:

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22 Comment

  • Assuming ~800-1000 sf, I would estimate around $150/sf or 120k-150k. I think you could easily go over that. I bet most non-contractor/non-flippers pay between 150k-200k for a full third-story pop-up.

    Just off the top of my head, you have:
    Structural reinforcement (worst-case, underpinning)
    Framing & insulation
    Roofing & siding ($$$ if you do brick)
    Electrical (including heavy-up, installing new sub-panel upstairs, etc)
    Plumbing (including possible upgrade of main stack and drain)
    HVAC (additional unit on the roof or maybe a split system)
    Finishes (drywall, tile, bathroom fixtures, flooring, etc).

  • I once had a contractor tell me that a good estimate for the cost of construction is around $150-200 per square foot in the city. But, keep in mind that the costs can vary wildly if you start to add fancy bathrooms, which are expensive, etc.

    So, for a typical CH rowhouse that is ~1500 square feet (i.e., 750 square feet per floor), a good starting estimate for the cost of an additional floor would be $112,500 to $150,000 inclusive of materials, labor, permits, architecture fees, etc. If there is no bathroom in the pop-up, it’ll probably be less.

  • Oh the same note, does anyone have experience with/estimates for digging out a basement? My row house has a (nearly non-existent) crawl space, but no basement, and if we even want to expand, it would probably be downward rather than upward. Is this wildly expensive and/or a really bad idea?

    • also very expensive. I got quotes from 30-60k to go from 6’6″ to just over 8′ for JUST the concrete work (no mechanicals)

    • I’m looking at one now. It obviously depends on your situation. How deep you want to go, and what your existing structure can support. In our case, our footers are deep enough that we can get the height we want without needing to underpin. Even then, it is a 100k+ job. And we’re only talking digging a foot, plumbing for a bathroom, pouring a new slab and finishing it off. That’s is of course best case. It could be that our sewer line isn’t deep enough to support a lower slab, in which case it has to be dug deeper and cost will significantly increase. It could be something else… But as you said, we can’t go up (historic)…. And we can’t afford a bigger house in the area…. So it looks like a better option every day.

  • We had to figure out the cost of our pop-up (Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, from a small semi-finished attic to a master bedroom suite about twice the size) for a TV show we did (HGTV’s “Bang For Your Buck”). It was hard to estimate because it was part of a much larger renovation project that involved the entire house, and many costs were spread over the entire project, but our best estimate was around $120,000 (not including architect’s fees). We also went with the lowest contractor bid, which may not have been a good idea in the long run. So I would agree with dat that $120,000 – $150,000 sounds about right.

  • So how do you pay for a popup if you want to stay and live in it, and don’t have $150K? Can you take a home equity loan for the construction, and then refi the whole mortgage?

    • I’m using a HELOAN (Cardinal Bank, great rates). The monthly costs for borrowing cash can be covered by rental if I ever need to.

      That said, you do need cash up front to get things to the point of the loan (why bother getting the loan before you have plans and know costs?) – so architect, permits, etc.

  • I’m currently doing a popup to my house (3 months in). I’m going to do a post on PoP at some point when the process is done or near done, but for now am happy to answer questions.
    Cost is WAY more than folks are citing. I was told (and am going to hit) that it will be about $400/sf. My house is small-er (600sf per floor) but not much. We are doing a 400 sf popup with some other stuff inside.
    When all is said and done I anticipate $250k total for the new floor. And that is NOT with a significant amount of high end anything. Architect will be about $25k of that, the rest is the pop-up and some minor interior work.
    FWIW the original estimate was $188k. Things add up though and it keeps going. Also, there are city fees (permits), attorney fees (if you have any historic/zoning issues, as I did) and unexpected costs (in my case helical piers for structural and moving the gas meter [sidenote FU washington gas!]).

  • Your soul?

  • $150k-$200k, and all the goodwill of your neighbors.

  • On yet another similar note, any recommendations for a good company to do a roof deck (plus the access from the floor below)?

  • Ours was about $225,000. in a historic district so our architects had to get creative with the roofline (space was previously a low-ceilinged attic-y sort of space)

    This was the result

    Besides the money it took years to plan and was a full-on extra job throughout construction making decisions etc.

  • That is gorgeous!!

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