A $50,000 Anacostia Rowhouse, Transformed

by Shilpi Paul

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K Leszczak’s home.

When her home search started in earnest a few years ago, 25-year-old K Leszczak realized that finding an appealing condo, co-op or rowhouse for around $200,000 in neighborhoods like Logan Circle, Bloomingdale and Foggy Bottom was proving to be difficult.

Her frustration led her to run a search for homes on the market with no price parameters. That online real estate hunt that led her east of the river, where she happened upon a renovated home close to Historic Anacostia and the river that reminded her of Brooklyn. The home, located at 1214 U Street SE, was very tastefully renovated. (UrbanTurf featured it back in 2010, and it was subsequently covered on HGTV.)

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Further searching led her to the now-defunct blog And Now, Anacostia, authored by the home’s owner David Garber. In the blog, Garber, now an ANC commissioner in Capitol Riverfront, noted residential and retail investments and heralded Anacostia as an “oft-forgotten neighborhood” whose time was coming.

Inspired by the blog and the renovated U Street SE house, Leszczak put in a $54,000 offer on an Anacostia rowhouse in very rough condition. “The house was unlivable,” Leszczak told UrbanTurf. “Mold, holes, electricity was turned off, no appliances — disgusting.”

Leszczak’s offer was accepted and she spent a year renovating the entire home, spending upwards of $100,000. After getting the systems updated and installing drywall, Leszczak set about renovating the bulk of the home with just the help of family and friends. “I became a frequent customer of Home Depot, IKEA, Lowes and Community Forklift,” said Leszczak.

She completed her project last fall, and now has her eyes on a couple foreclosed properties on Shannon Place SE. Check out the home in the photos below.

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See other articles related to: dclofts, and now anacostia, anacostia

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a_50000_anacostia_rowhouse_transformed/6738

27 Comments

  1. H Street LL said at 3:00 pm on Monday March 4, 2013:

    Beautiful!

    How difficult was it to deal with HPRB?

  1. I said at 3:16 pm on Monday March 4, 2013:

    It is really beautiful. Would she share the info for the contractor?

  1. K said at 3:39 pm on Monday March 4, 2013:

    K here! The finish work was completed by dedicated friends, family, and a lot of sore muscles, hands, and caulk-ey fingers. Neighbors helped move IKEA boxes, and passerbyers helped encourage us all to keep going! The process involved a lot of learning, making mistakes, and never stopping.

  1. Chris said at 4:19 pm on Monday March 4, 2013:

    This is amazing! K, what would you say was the hardest part about the whole process? Any things you learned that you could pass on?

  1. mona said at 4:31 pm on Monday March 4, 2013:

    wonderful job K. Is this for you to live in or are you selling it?

  1. PG2SE said at 4:35 pm on Monday March 4, 2013:

    Wow! You, your family, and friends did a bang up job, K! Thanks for allowing UrbanTurf into your home and showcasing the golden opportunities available east of the river.

  1. K said at 5:01 pm on Monday March 4, 2013:

    @Chris - Lessons learned: Even when you think you have all of your bases covered, the unexpected happens—contractors, architect, materials, inspections, costs. I learned, however, that the only direction to move is forward. Not only in the renovations process, but also in my learning to accept the good and the bad that we associate with Anacostia.

    Renovation-wise, Community Forklift and IKEA helped take my expensive ideas and bring them down to my reality. I continue to track what I purchase, when, and group purchases according to the individual project. And, I research a lot, but oftentimes have made a decision that has been imperfect. Most importantly, when doing any type of renovation, learn about the process, materials, and costs associated with what you want. And, accept that mistakes will be made.

    Neighborhood-wise, I continue to find that the most important step is reaching out to my immediate community—my friends, family, and colleauges about the hope, momentum, and positive change that can, will, and is happening in Anacostia.

  1. K said at 5:05 pm on Monday March 4, 2013:

    @mona - Ressie Wilson, my awesome realtor, helped me find my first place. Today, this house is now my home. I’ve spent so much time fixing her (yes, my home is a ‘she’!) that I consider her family. smile

  1. Dana Hollish Hill said at 5:11 pm on Monday March 4, 2013:

    Do you have any before pictures? I think it would be interesting to see the before and after photos next to each other to show what an amzaing job you did with the renovation.

  1. i said at 5:12 pm on Monday March 4, 2013:

    K, are you saying you did the whole thing with the help of friends and family and without any professional help? Is that even possible given that the house was not livable no water, no electricity?!

  1. Myra said at 5:48 pm on Monday March 4, 2013:

    This is beautiful. Native of SEDC myself, I am very interested in carrying out this type of project. You really lucked up on the $50k. There is hope for me yet. So many questions. Are you, the family and friends open to doing other projects?

  1. gk said at 6:02 pm on Monday March 4, 2013:

    @ Myra- Hello. If you luck up on a house to renovate…I’d be happy to look at it for you. If we see a fit…I can re-design it, and build it as well. Good luck-www.gaineskelly.com

  1. Chris said at 6:26 pm on Monday March 4, 2013:

    K, I love what you did with the place. I’m working on something similar for my small condo off S. Capitol St. in Ward 8.  Do you have any advice?

  1. K said at 6:13 pm on Tuesday March 5, 2013:

    @Dana– I do have pictures, and I’d be happy to share! Let me pull some together into an online album, and I’ll post a link.

    @I – I worked with an architect to create drawings to obtain permits. I also bid out demolition, electrical rough in, plumbing rough in, windows, roof work (completed three times in total), stairs, HVAC modernization, and exterior work (e.g. brick work, railing installation). Some of this work was completed well, other work was not. I asked DCRA to transfer inspections away from private inspectors, and when different inspections were passed, my home was able to move towards its current status as ‘livable’ and ‘occupied’. Finish work—meaning window frames, flooring, molding, electrical fixtures, tiling, backsplash, painting (not priming), sanding, caulking, bathroom fixtures, kitchen cabinet and appliances installation, shelving, door installation—was completed over many months, and many all-nighters!

    @Myra – We are definitely open to new projects, and especially in helping others in their renovation projects—whether in the planning, purchasing, or installation phases. Before we can move forward, though, we’re working to make our backyard a living space. DC has some really great programs to help homeowners install rain barrels, bayscapes, and/or rain gardens!

    @Chris – How exciting! What are your plans? Where are you in the renovations process?

  1. Indysmon said at 12:00 am on Wednesday March 6, 2013:

    Great job, it is really well done! My burning question is - you couldn’t afford a $200k rowhouse on the other side of Anacostia, but how did you ever afford $100k in renovations within a year’s time??

  1. K said at 9:06 am on Wednesday March 6, 2013:

    @Indysmon - Two years later, renovations continue. Community Forklift, Craigslist, auctions, taking time to save, weighing whether a project was better done alone or with professional help, and working. There are great programs available for first-time homeowners in DC as well.

  1. Livingintrinidad said at 10:34 am on Wednesday March 6, 2013:

    K - can you share the link to the DC grant programs that help with backyards that you reference in your response. We are definitely interested in learning more about that.

  1. K said at 4:57 pm on Wednesday March 6, 2013:

    @ Livingintrinidad - Here you go: http://green.dc.gov/riversmarthomes

  1. Ressie Wilson said at 10:46 pm on Wednesday March 6, 2013:

    I think “Miss Shannon” is fabulous and oh so today!!! Working with K was amazing and showing her parents around Anacostia was epic. If you are interested in financing a rehab FHA has a program designed for first time buyers and combine that with another program from GWUL you may have a winning combination.
    Here is a link with some interesting and useful information .http://www.gwul.org/docs/Home_Purchase_Rehabilitation_Pilot_Program.pdf

  1. Community Forklift said at 11:44 am on Friday March 8, 2013:

    Thank you K! We love seeing all the beautiful ways our materials, products, energy and love are used! This is an inspiration and proves how wonderfully useful reused materials can be!

  1. mona said at 10:09 am on Sunday March 10, 2013:

    Who was your architect? Once again great job!!

  1. Drew Mitchell said at 10:22 am on Sunday March 10, 2013:

    When I attended Lumin8 last summer, Anacostia reminded me of Brooklyn in a lot of ways. Move over H St, Brookland, etc… This is the next big thing in DC.

  1. Sari said at 4:46 pm on Friday March 15, 2013:

    Gorgeous and so convenient to the metro! That entire street is very quiet with parking and easy access to 295. Lucky girl!

  1. K said at 4:08 pm on Wednesday March 20, 2013:

    As promised, here are some more pictures of the renovation process: bit.ly/WJ6vrw

    smile

  1. Young Black Male said at 11:12 am on Friday August 2, 2013:

    Beautiful! Please leave some properties for individuals who can’t afford higher priced items in the district.  Gentrification is real and Anacostia will soon be the “new” 8th Street in SE near Eastern Market or U Street.  This historic area deserves to remain diverse…my family grew up in Anacostia, I purchased my first home in Anacostia at 26 and have helped others who are in a lower tax bracket purchase homes.  Too often do people purchase, fix up and rent out at outrageous prices, let’s think about those who can’t afford high- priced properties and let’s not be greedy. 

    Signed,

    Young Black Male

    Goal:

    To inspire my Black brothers and sisters as well as other ethnic groups who are financially disadvantaged.  Thanks

  1. K said at 8:28 pm on Sunday September 22, 2013:

    @YoungBlackMale - I love my neighborhood and just as much as you, I want to see a beautiful Anacostia. An Anacostia that is not plagued by abandoned homes, by empty lots, by loitering, and by crime. Fixing up a home and making it unique to your needs, to your dreams, to your family ... that’s all that I have done and continue to do. I hope to inspire all people to do the same.

  1. Lauren said at 2:23 pm on Sunday September 29, 2013:

    K, this is amazing! Another great addition to the neighborhood!

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