54 Comment

  • All of these look nice to me. Anti-pop schillers tend to focus on one of two or three ugly houses around town, many of which aren’t evened zoned R-4.

    • These are better than average, I grant. Of course, there is nothing stopping some hack developer from adding a hideous pop up right next door, is there?

  • Looks good. This is why I kind of shrug when people complain about pop ups. Eventually you’re going to see this all over and no one will even notice anymore. I get more upset at the idea that all of these beautiful old rowhomes are being carved up and so much of the interior character is being lost. But that is what happens when you have more people who want to and can afford to live in the city and fewer and fewer houses available/affordable.

  • If multiple units do it, and they share a similar character, it looks good. When one unit does it and they try to plop some modern looking popup on top of an older unit, it just looks awkward.

  • Those actually look good. Goes to show what decent planning can do.

    • But there really has not been decent planning in terms of infrastructure. That neighborhood has been overcrowded for years and dumping more people there is not going to make anything any better. Sewer lines, bus capacity, neighborhood services, etc. You just have more people competing for fewer resources. There’s no “planning” going on.

      • I guess the “decent planning” here would be the architectural plan of the developer. You are right that the push to increase the population density in certain neighborhoods is not being accompanied by any plan to increase the resources in a manner sufficient to meet the needs of that larger population. So the good news for the existing residents is that their property values increase. The bad news is their water pressure decreases.

      • Do you think that is going to happen in the opposite order?

  • I’m not a fan of pop-ups, but at least when there are several in a row like this and the pop-ups are similarly done (perhaps they were all done by the same developer?), it’s not as bad as when a single pop-up mars an otherwise uniform roof line.

  • Those actually don’t look bad. If it was just one doing it then maybe it would be unpleasant, but taken together, it seems fine to me.

  • Thumbs up! I’m all for a consistent row, at least in DC.

    I hope to do something like this… I know each of my next door neighbors is interested in popping up, and I want to see if it’s feasible to have one architect design all three in a coherent and visually pleasing way. Bonus, cheaper to hire one architect for three houses than to hire three architects, right?

  • I want to like these, but there’s something so Fairfax about them. It’s like “Welcome to Pre-Fab Gardens at Vienna Metro!”

  • I see 4 meters on each house, presumably there are 4 units per house. I assume these were all done by a single developer.

    • Parking on the block is going to SUCK. Even more than it no doubt already does.

    • I would think three units for four meters (one would be for common areas). Still, three seems like at least one too many. At least.

    • Each probably going for half a million. I’m all for increasing residency in the city, but hate that these houses are being broken up into unaffordable units. Put up more condo buildings for singletons and childless couples, but families need more than a couple of tiny bedrooms. And all of the areas referenced in this post need families.

    • 4 meters means 3 units.

  • These look ok from the front. What you really need to see is what’s going on in the back. The issue is not the popping up, but the popping out.

  • I don’t see why you need more than one house to do this properly. That then relies on greedy developers to do this. Some pop-ups are actually homeowners trying to expand their existing space so they can stay put rather than developers trying to move 5 or 6 more people into one building. I think any of those on their own would look just as good.

    • “Some pop-ups are actually homeowners trying to expand their existing space” — The vast majority of pop-ups are done by developers. (I was actually surprised to learn that this was the case, given how many people on PoPville express pro-pop-up sentiments.)
      One thing that I (and many others) don’t like about pop-ups is that they take a block that used to be architecturally coherent and add something jarring to the mix. At least with four pop-ups in a row, all designed by the same developer, there’s a mini-coherence for that particular section.

      • As I mentioned above, I and my homeowning neighbors all intend to pop up and stay in our houses. We have kids, and aging parents, and we need more square feet. It’s true that most are being done by developers now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it starts to tip the other way as “newcomer” families outgrow their space.
        But I completely agree that it sucks for one person to come along and destroy the consistency of a whole block. Which is why, if/when we expand our house, I hope to go in on it with the neighbors.

      • I think lots of people moving in see themselves as wanting to pop up. But the economics of the pop-up don’t make a ton of sense unless you’re gut renovating the house anyways. It’s months outside the house, a lot of cost uncertainty, and a lot of contractor management. Once homeowners have kids and need the space the calculus is clearly in favor of just moving to a bigger place in almost every scenario.
        I’m in favor of popping, but realistically I don’t see it as something the vast majority of homeowners will ever do themselves.

        • +1. I’d like to think that I will just pop my place up if/when I need the extra space but I’m not convinced it will actually make sense when the time comes, for the reasons you mention.

        • My old neighbor popped up and they were stuck living in a small basement apartment (that they paid to rent!) with two smalls kids and a big dog for 6 months. Between cabin fever and trying to manage an expensive renovation ($200K+), they were ready to go off the deep-end both emotionally and financially.
          Yes, they now have a really lovely pop-up and they did not spare expense – all brick exterior, matched original decorative features, entire new 3rd floor + roof terrace). Was it worth all the hassle? Probably not. Let’s see if they sell once their kids hit the dreaded middle school age. If so, they should have just bought a nice house in Bethesda.

        • We popped up our sloping attic level to a fully completed extra floor. Took about 3 months and we didn’t have to move out of the bottom part of the building. Had Pepco upgrade the house electric panel, too.

          • Where did you do this and was it a federal style rowhouse? How much did it end up costing, who did you use, and what was the square footage?


  • the porkchop eaves on the dormers are regrettable and would really look much better if done how they were done before suburban tract construction came along

  • It seems like people in this city often insult the suburbs for all looking the same while simultaneously decrying any development in their own neighborhood that does not perfectly match the existing aesthetic.

  • I live two doors down, and while they don’t look bad from the front, they popped back 50 ft (more than the length of the original house). They block all the sun and took out all the trees back there, with faux metal electric garage doors off the alley. Big thumbs down. You should post pics of the back. I am happy to provide some.

    • I do wonder about people who obsess so much about the way their alley looks. Don’t most people just use the alley to park their trash cans? I can’t imagine spending much time looking out my back window when the front yard is so nice and there is such a great city to enjoy.

  • These three pop-ups are aesthetically congruent. However, the real questions are these: what do the pop-backs look like? Is their permitting for all of the work done? How much party wall & underpinning damage was done to adjoining neighbors? Were the previous residents effectively priced out of the market – where do they live now? This is a case to show that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ pop-ups are not defined by exteriors, but by many dimensions ….

    • The developer did all his work up to code, did gratis support work on the adjacent houses and even offered to buy those neighbors as well. The former residents were not priced out of the market. One house was a rental in such horrible shape after the last tenants left that the owner sold to the developer first. The next was sold to a different developer shortly after and moved to a smaller condo elsewhere in the city. The last two, adjacent to one another, decided to sell together and negotiated a very fair deal, one was able to buy her own house outright in NE and retire without a mortgage, the other couple bought a nice, bigger house in 16th St Heights for less that what they sold for here. All are happy, I know because I was one of those previous residents. Sucks about the backyards, but they are all built to R-4 zoning.

      • Then R-4 coding should be fixed, but then even OP knows that.

        The four residents who sold to developers enjoyed happy endings, but not so much their neighbors, what with the pop-backs. Then there are the residents who are not eager to move but find their property taxes rising beyond their ability to afford them because neighboring structures that once were assessed at $500,000 for a whole house are now “worth” $600,000-$700,000 per unit, or over $2 million for the building.

        • Well I would hope that those residents have applied for the homestead/senior deduction because taxes barely increase when enrolled. When I tell my coworkers who all live in VA what my property taxes are- they are always surprise at how low they are.

        • I’m finding it very hard to muster up any sympathy for people who have enjoyed 100+% appreciation in their property values.

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