The Road from DC Garage to $3,250/Month Accessory Dwelling

by Nena Perry-Brown

The Road from DC Garage to $3,250/Month Accessory Dwelling: Figure 1
The newly-completed carriage house, pre-driveway paving.

When Mount Pleasant resident Greg Faust and his wife, Lara, were searching for a new house in 2015, they knew that they wanted to be able to create a rentable accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on the lot of the home. Faust had kept up with the proposed zoning changes that would make accessory buildings by-right in some zones in DC, and in anticipation of these new rules, they purchased their 19th Street home, which had a large enough lot and floor-area ratio to permit an accessory dwelling. The rear yard of the home sloped downward such that the roof of the dilapidated single-story garage toward the back of the lot was level with the yard and well below the grade of 19th Street.

Once the zoning changes went into effect in September 2016, the couple didn't waste time moving forward with their plan, employing R. Michael Cross Design Group to convert the garage into an ADU. 

The Road from DC Garage to $3,250/Month Accessory Dwelling: Figure 2
Kitchen. Click to enlarge.

The Fausts presented their plans to ANC 1D in March 2017, which voted to neither support nor oppose the proposed 900 square-foot, two-bedroom property. However, the structure is also in the Mount Pleasant Historic District, requiring the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) to approve the plans. This proved to be more nerve-wracking than anticipated based on staff review of the concept.

Based on the placement of other garages on the alley along which the structure would be located, preservation staff requested that the garage be reconstructed closer to the alley line — a placement that would run afoul of zoning regulations and require a variance from another agency. Cross Design Group slightly amended the design to reduce the setback from the alley by just below 8 inches, an adjustment that, considering the diagonal nature of the alley, compelled HPRB to unanimously approve the plans in March. Building permits were acquired at the end of the year, and ground was broken this past January.

The Road from DC Garage to $3,250/Month Accessory Dwelling: Figure 3
Master bedroom closets. Click to enlarge.

Electricity, water and sewer for the new structure had to be piped from the main house to the back of the lot, and the top of the existing garage was lopped off to make way for an additional story that includes skylights on the top floor. 

"We basically can-openered it," Greg told UrbanTurf, noting how they ripped the roof and the sides of the garage off, and dug down, underpinning the existing side brick walls. Those side walls create exposed brick-concrete interior walls that add industrial flair to the otherwise modern design. The entire house is 900 square feet across two levels; the main floor has a powder room and two bedrooms share a full bath upstairs.

"We effectively made it like a rowhouse in reverse," Greg explains. "It's got a little dog-leg with a south-facing window in the second bedroom and a skylight in the second bedroom, and what we're terming the master bedroom, with the big closets, is facing west." A paved pad replaces the parking space lost in the conversion.

From planning to completion, the garage conversion cost in the $250-300 per- square foot range, exceeding the couple's original budget. Now the plans are to make that money back: the two-bedroom is available for rent at $3,250 a month starting on August 1. 

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the-road-from-dc-garage-to-3250-month-accessory-building/14258

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »