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“General Contractor recommendations for rehabilitating a 1938 house?”

by Prince Of Petworth May 11, 2017 at 1:45 pm 15 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Erin

“Dear PoPville,

My husband and I are under contract for purchasing a 1938 house in need of rehabilitation through a Homestyle Renovation Mortgage (similar to FHA 203k). The house needs a significant amount of work from different trades to become habitable (e.g. all new plumbing and electrical, structural and non-structural masonry work, asbestos tile removal, exterior grading, roofing repair, window and door repair, plaster repair, wood floor repair, etc). Everything in the house is original to 1938, which is what we like about the house and want to keep to the extent possible. Does anyone have experience with a general contractor for a rehabilitation/restoration of an old house that does not include any remodeling or design work? The general contractor needs to have enough experience with jobs similar in scope in order to be approved by the lender.”

  • soozles

    I had a significant reno of my 1912 rowhouse last year and wanted to maintain its character by restoring where possible but updating as needed. This included replacing a missing pocket door, restoring coffers, replacing oak flooring. I would recommend Matt Murdoch or Murdoch Builders. He only works in DC, and when he’s on your job, your his only job. Not cheap, but would highly recommend. He is a master carpenter and has two guys that only work for him.

  • Highly recommend Justin Sullivan at Impact Construction.

    • AS

      Would not recommend them.

  • MadMax

    I will just recommend against Four Brothers.

    • Sycamore Hill

      We had a fantastic experience with Four Brothers in our 1920 rowhouse. They did a complete renovation of the kitchen and main bathroom, and finished ahead of schedule and under budget. Some recent posts here at PoPville make it seem like they may have gotten more expensive, but we found them to be a great value.

  • Anonynon

    where did you find a house from 1938 that had zero updates?

    • MHillPark

      ***crying/laughing because I get where this question comes from***

      I’m guessing OP means the architectural features are original, and maybe some of the pluming and electrical. If the house still has a circa 1938 stove that works, I want to buy it!

      • OP

        OP here: The stove and fridge are from the 1980s (originals are in the basement, but probably too rusty to restore), but everything else is original, including the wallpaper (which covers every wall except in the bathrooms and kitchen), light fixtures, kitchen cabinets, and bathrooms (with the art deco yellow/black and jade/black tiling that is in good enough condition to keep). I am thrilled because finding a house like that is my dream, but I realize it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. :)

        • Clarissa

          Yellow/black and jade/black tiles? Be still my heart! I’m so happy that this home is going to someone who will cherish those original features instead of tearing it out. I drove my realtor nuts looking for a place like this when I was searching.

          OP, Dan, do you think there’s any room for a photo update for this project? Maybe before or after images? Would love to see them!

          • Bloomy


  • Emerald Street

    Try David Robertson with Something Different Contracting.

  • ET

    I have used urbanreferrals.com several times to find contractor types.

  • OP

    Thanks for the recommendations!!!

  • textdoc
  • Matthew

    AJ is by far the most honest, direct, and ‘customer’ conscious contractor I have ever met. He will not drag out your project because he is trying to land a new one. He will tell you things you do not want to hear but that you need to know, good and bad. He will deliver a finished renovation that is beyond what you expect. And, he is an all around quality human being.



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