Flip’t: The Long Winter – by David Garber

by Prince Of Petworth — March 30, 2010 at 11:30 am 10 Comments

David Garber is a DC neighborhood blogger and real estate entrepreneur. His mission: help bring back DC’s neighborhoods, one rotting house at a time. You can read David’s previous posts here.

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U Street in January. Hint: stucco is best applied in the warmer months.

As much as I like to keep up the appearance as someone who 100% knows what he’s doing in all renovation matters and has done this and that with houses a thousand times before – this is actually one of the very first times I’ve done this scale of project. Over the past 5 months I’ve been managing about five renovations, and every day at each job I learn about two or three new lessons about who to hire, how to communicate, and which steps to follow to make sure that the final outcome comes fastest and with the most satisfying result. Might sound easy, but the learning part is typically paired with the worst kind of president-going-gray-in-his-first-year frustration. And yet somehow I still love my job.

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the Big Blue Bubble, which gave the exterior work some much-needed momentum

Over the past four months the U Street House has evolved into something a lot more livable and likeable than the mess it began as. The snowstorms contributed about a month of downtime due to our forced timeline: the exterior had to be sealed and stuccoed before most of the interior work could begin, and the exterior could only be worked on in temperatures above 40 degrees. Enter the big blue bubble, above, which added a touch of whimsy, but also enough warmth to allow the stucco to dry in sub-par conditions. Post continues after the jump.

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annnd stucco and windows done … but still unpainted.

As you can see above, the stucco is complete and the windows are all in. The windows really add to the façade and almost immediately transformed it from something very forlorn to a house that is beginning to look welcoming. Although the specs called for simple one-over-one windows (without any divided windowpanes), I decided to go with a more “historically appropriate” two-over-two. It’s typically more expensive to add divided windowpanes (about $50 per muntin/bar), but I’m a big believer in windowpanes on older houses because, simply, they another level of detail and (warning, opinion to follow) charm.

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Another big time-drain for this project was waiting for my third-party inspector to get re-licensed so that I could be approved to close in the walls and really get moving on the interior. At the beginning of the project, there were a few complications with the design that made it necessary to hire a non-DCRA inspector, and after shelling out $400 for the initial inspection felt confident that things would run smoothly. Then he lost his license in DC. After about three weeks of broken promises that the license was “coming in the next few days”, I tweeted a plea for help to @DCRA who, as usual, came through with amazing help almost immediately. Again, lesson learned, and the bright green approval sticker (above) was a sigh of relief. Drywall installation commenced.

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Oak floors installed throughout that will eventually be given a medium dark stain

Last week, interior trim (two-piece crown molding on the first floor, window trim) and hardwood floors (everywhere but the upstairs bathrooms, which are tiled) were installed. I think it’s safe to say that the house will be done in the next three weeks.

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the first floor, from the kitchen: floors in, trim up, and starting to look snaz.

Interested in purchasing the house? Check out the listing HERE.

[questions or comments – email David at [email protected]]

photos by David Garber

  • Shawn

    I would be interested to learn how the business model works. How much did he pay for the house? How much did the renovations cost? How much profit does he hope to earn for his months of labor?

  • Matt

    Well, just clicking on that Redfin link shows it was purchased for $88K. I’d imagine he’s looking for at least 100% return on investment or above, but no idea really.

  • What was the stucco substrate? I couldn’t really see it in the other pics. Did have the original stucco sent to a lab for a match? It looked like the original framing was balloon framing, what type of insulation did use?

  • Love the update David! It looks great! I wish I could buy it lol. Keep up the great work!

  • briefly

    It seems the asking price is well above normal for that area, no? Nice work regardless, though tiles in the bedroom wouldn’t be for my cold piggies.

  • Marilyn Davis

    Who did the floors?


  • Marilyn Davis

    Who did the hardwood floors?

  • Marilyn Davis

    Who installed the hardwood floors?

  • Marilyn Davis

    Sorry for the multiple questions, I didn’t realize they were posted.

  • Graylin

    Just checking in. Nice work. Looking forward to next installment. $315K seems a lot for the square footage (no basement?) and neighborhood. Like to see the finished kitchen, bathroom, and landscaping.


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