“The developer really butchered this house”

pop up

“Dear PoPville,

Here is a terrible pop up on the 3200 block of Sherman ave me. The developer really butchered this house by cutting off the roof and putting an awkward 3 story on. What a shame.”

48 Comment

  • I live across the street and have been watching this debacle. They just painted the brick so it now at least matches the color of the siding they put on the front of the house – not sure if that is an improvement or not. I was wondering if the new pop-up rules come into play here, due to the height limit or another restriction? Any insights are much appreciated!

    • i’ve been living across the street for over a year, and it has taken them over a year to put up the ugly siding on that pop up. at least its not ply wood anymore? also, hi neighbor!

    • In short, no – this was most likely “permitted” prior to the change in zoning regs and thus grandfathered in. However, the new pop-rules would not have stopped this, as the houses on Sherman are pretty short and a third story isn’t going to put you over the 35′ limit. The developer would’ve most likely been required to keep the pediment, however, as I believe the new zoning regs prohibit the destruction of decorative roof features when adding a third story.

  • This is ugly but to be fair it’s not done yet. Also the problem so far seems to be taste not height. Unfortunately you can’t zone taste.

    • There are actually zoning codes known as “form based codes” where rather than expending regulatory energy separating single family detached housing from duplexes from row houses from apartment buildings, the zoning code instead concentrates on things like public appearance, uses of high quality matching materials other items which improve the physical appearance of the public realm.

    • It’s a homeowners association, and it heads down the rabbit hole of what color you are allowed to paint your shutters and what type of windows you can install.

  • The problems here seem pretty superficial. The siding on the addition clashes with the old brick. Seems easy enough to resolve (and it sounds from the above comments that it’s happening already).

    • Are they going to add a new window or change that cheap looking sifting or add some sort of structural details so that it goes with the rest of the house???

      • I dunno. Maybe the new owner will? Or maybe they won’t, and that’s fine. Because it’s their house that they chose to buy and apparently liked as is. The only way to guarantee the aesthetics are to your taste is to buy it yourself.

  • Wow, this is much uglier than the V St pop up, IMO.

  • not trying to be snarky, but what is sherman ave me? i’d think they meant ne, but sherman runs north-south entirely in nw. and nw to me is a pretty bad typo, so makes me think it’s something else.

    either way, this doesn’t look great, but not terrible. hopefully a future owner will take the effort to spend a few grand replace the cheap siding with brick.

    • Oof. That’s a lot of words for you to have typed while also not really understanding how keyboards or autocorrect work. “me” is what you type if you if you try to type “nw” but shift your hands one key to the right, which means it’s both physically easy to do accidentally and (my guess in this case) a likely correction made by autocorrect when it doesn’t recognize the word you typed. Recall that “nw” is not actually a word in English.

    • You were not trying, but you certainly accomplished it.

  • Woof. Nothing a few granite counter tops can’t fix I’m sure. The electrical is probably top-notch too.

    • Agreed, no doubt the attention to detail behind the walls is impeccable. Throw in some ss appliances and you have a suckered buyer.

  • OK, that is the view of the rear of the building, right? Any recent pictures of the front? Whenever I read comment threads about popups, I am reminded of the deeply irrational hatred some people have for any change at all. This is worse that the V Street popup? Really? Wow.

  • justinbc

    Yeah even I think this is pretty damn ugly, but I fully support their right to do it.

    • I dont understand the libertarian attitude toward city architecture. We all have to live in this is dense urban setting and small improvements in our environment can really make a difference in how we live.

      please watch this youtube video from the school of life on the topic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy4QjmKzF1c

      • justinbc

        You don’t understand me not wanting to regulate how someone else’s private property looks? I think that concept should be relatively straightforward.

        • HaileUnlikely

          I’d favor some sort of compromise on this sort of thing, whereby owner-occupants who wanted to expand their own home were able to do so without a review board inflating their cost by a large multiple by imposing extensive aesthetic requirements that might be costly, but requiring developers who are basically flipping the property to meet some additional aesthetic requirements.
          .
          While legally speaking, your home is your private property and this house is it’s current owner’s private property just the same, I care more about your rights to do as you please with your actual home than with a property that was bought for the express purpose of flipping for money. We all know darn well that the reason developers go this route vs. making it actually look nice is to maximize their profit, as a nice brick facade vs. the vinyl has almost zero chance of paying for itself dollar for dollar at resale.

          • Well, it’s a business, so yes, they’re going to do what maximizes profit…what’s the issue with that exactly? Why should they be held to a higher standard?

            If someone is writing in because the work is shoddy (looking at you nj ave pop-up), that’s one thing, but the let’s beat up developers for making money posts seems silly to me.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I’m not beating anybody up (go up a couple more posts if you want that), I’m just offering a counterpoint to Justin’s perspective regarding what people do with their “private property.” While legally any property that you buy is your private property, I think there exist meaningful distinctions between a person’s home versus a property that is not even owned by a natural person and which was bought for the express purpose of reselling. That is all.

          • Normally I would argue here that the market handles that. If a developer does a bottom barrel job flipping something, then the buyer kind of needs to do their due diligence prior to buying something.

            That said, the market has some difficulty correcting this behavior because the system is set up so that the developer’s liability is vastly limited following the closing. And where it is not limited and where they can be sued, most are set up as sham LLCs, so you’re suing an entity and not a person. And they simply declare bankruptcy and start a new LLC to avoid the reputational harm that the market would normally deliver to them.

            That said, a buyer should really look beyond an LLC, find out who is running things and investigate their history of work before purchasing. I do not think it is for the neighbors to deal with.

          • justinbc

            It doesn’t just make a developer’s profit higher, it makes the home sale price lower, which would in theory entice and be available for a larger buying pool. If they want to change it to brick after they’ve bought it they’re certainly able to spend the money, and probably be able to do it for less than paying the costs built into the home price set by the developer if they had done it. I agree that there should be restrictions in place for those whose goal is to do nothing more than flip a property (with some definition of what that means, like say holding a property for 6 months or less). But what are the chances of DCRA enforcing them if it’s like pulling teeth already to get them to crack down on the big developers?

          • What is interesting is if you’re buying a flipped property, you have restrictions on certain types of mortgages. FHA loans can no longer be used to buy a property that was already sold within the prior six months. Just shows how skewed the system is that the developers are free to buy and flip in three months but buyers have a harder time purchasing flipped homes.

      • Agreed with James. What one person does affects the whole community.

  • I am not sure a paint job is going to make this look significantly better. I would hope the inside is better turned out but given the choices made on the front I doubt it. This looks like a buyer beware situation.

  • Looks like they airlifted a storage container right on top. Fug’tastic.

  • Pop-ups gone wrong! Really wish city would figure out a way to prevent bad pop-ups.

  • west_egg

    Maybe it’s just the angle, but it looks like the left side of the addition is resting on the neighbor’s home. Perhaps it’s still the party wall at that point. Either way–fugly.

    • I was thinking the same thing — it doesn’t seem to be aligned completely with the original portion of the house.

  • For every story I hear about HPRB hijacking someone’s attempt to do something simple to their house, like replace the windows or build a garage on the alley frontage of their property, I see at least one of these, which reminds me about why HPRB, as much of a pain in the a$$ as they can be, and often are, is necessary in this city…

  • Absolutely ugly and I do not/not recognize any right to do whatever one wants with private property. How is that a right? Where is written? It’s not in the constitution or any law that I’m aware of. Everything must be in accordance with code and regulations, which, in my opinion, are deficient in DC. Let’s debate the code and regulations, but it’s a libertarian fantasy (and not legally accurate) to state that one can do whatever one wants with his/her private property.

    • I’m afraid your knowledge of the Constitution must be fairly limited. The Fifth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment place “property” in the same category of protected rights as “life” and “liberty,” as in the government – state or federal – cannot deprive you of this right without due process of law.

      There is quite a long history of constitutional legal controversies associated with zoning laws and regulations. The vast majority of the time, zoning laws/regs are constitutional, meaning that your property rights are not absolute. Just like your right to life is not absolute (in states that have the death penalty) and your right to liberty is not absolute (in all states that have prisons and jails). But Americans’ right to property is pretty firmly in the Constitution.

      • +1000000000000

      • “The vast majority of the time, zoning laws/regs are constitutional, meaning that your property rights are not absolute.” I think you and anon 11:19 are saying the same thing, even if you’re coming at it from different perspectives.

      • I’m afraid you’re making an incorrect distinction. Please reread my posting. No one questioned one’s right to own property. There are certainly constitutional rights to owning property. I’m pointing out merely what you point out yourself, there are limits to one’s property rights. And moving beyond the abstract right to own property, there are certainly more limitations on the use of that property. Those limits are laws, regulations, code, etc (as old as the republic itself). Let’s not pretend that there is some absolute right to the use of property as an excuse for the poor building codes in DC. This isn’t a rights use, it’s a building code use.

        • I’m afraid you don’t understand the Constitution, which you invoked in your initial post. The right to property established by the 5th and 14th Amendments cannot be “deprived” without due process of law. That means much more than the simple right to own property. The fact that some zoning laws are unconstitutional means that certain zoning regulations – even if enacted properly – deprive a property owner’s right. A zoning regulation that prohibits you from doing something with your property can most assuredly violate the Constitution even though it doesn’t prevent you from owning the property.

          The starting point (from a constitutional perspective) is that a person can do whatever they want with their property. Certain zoning laws and regulations are consistent with the Constitution, and can (and do) limit what individuals can do with their property (just like criminal laws can and do limit what individual scan do with their liberty).

          I don’t think we have a dispute about zoning laws being consistent with the constitution. What we do have a dispute about is your assertion that there is no right of an individual to do whatever he wants with his property, and that there is no source for that right. Yes there is. It’s the Constitution of the United States (5th and 14th Amendments). The right is not absolute (just like none of the rights granted by the Constitution is absolute), but it is there.

          • I’m firmly in favor of allowing these people to make/sell an ugly house. But yes, I acknowledge that there are limits to this right. For instance, where public safety is an issue. And, when public infrastructure will be burdened (although this claim is usually made by people who feel entitled to plentiful street parking, so I’m driven to be really skeptical of those claims).
            .
            However, this is nothing like that. This is aesthetic. While I don’t think it’d necessarily be a constitutional infringement to aggressively regulate the aesthetics of homes, I don’t think that strictly uniform appearance is important enough. In fact, I think aesthetic diversity makes a city more fun to live in. Conceding that while also opposing things I think are ugly would be like being in favor of free speech but only when in agreement with my own opinions.

          • Note my postings say “absolute” and by “do whatever one wants” I mean “absolute”. You admit the right to the use of property is not “absolute.” If the constitution said one could “do whatever one wants with his property” there would be no building code or regulations because it would all be unconstitutional. Why does this continue? This is completely beside the point and is simply some regurgitation from Constitution 101.

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