Bloomingdale Neighbors -
I wanted to provide some background to the Bloomingdale listserv and surrounding community about the recent DCRA stop work order issued against 1915 2ND ST NW. The stop work order was issued for "working beyond the scope of the building permit" - more specifically for a suspected illegal basement excavation. The current permits (#B1611097, and amendment #B1611308) are for "alteration and repair" of interior only. This includes demolition of partition walls and new MEP systems (mechanical/electrical/plumbing), however there is no/no description of any work involving excavation.
I share this as a cautionary tale, and the importance of staying alert to construction activity that could compromise the structural integrity of your property. Don't get me wrong - I'm not against capital improvements, as long as they're done legally. I live next door and share a common party wall/foundation with the property under renovation. I had the opportunity to follow-up with the inspector who issued the stop work order. He observed the excavation went down to the base of the footers - but not below them. This is legal, however this work would have to be described in the building plans. Permit descriptions are very general, however all the details of a project will (should) be in the building plans, which are stamped & approved by DCRA. Building plans must be available on site. The contractor for 1915 2ND ST NW could not produce certified plans for the DCRA inspector, which could have supported an excavation (breaking up the concrete and excavating to the footers).
It looks like I may have dodged a bullet. The stop work order will trigger an inspection, and the owner will receive an infraction. Owner/developer Cheri Horne (Fredericksburg, VA) has been fairly aggressive in our neighborhood and surrounding area; she is said to have at least 8 projects currently under renovation (including 141 T ST NW). Her team is wicked fast:
Jul 26 on/about date of the sale close for property
Jul 28 *DDOT public space permit was posted
Jul 29 Day 1 demolition
Aug 5 Demo completed (and most of the excavation)
*(failed to provide 72 hrs advance notice)
Time is of the essence when dealing with aggressive "flippers."
At the end of the day, the basement excavation may have been in the plans and approved - but I doubt it (as of close of business Aug 9 plans have yet to be produced, which may indicate the owner is making the appropriate "revisions"). While I believe the majority of projects are legitimate and above board, I would encourage all to follow your instincts! If you have a hunch something is a bit "shady," it very well may be shady. For those of you who happen to be around during the work week, I would like to ask for your help in keeping an eye out on the progress of 1915 2ND ST NW.
If you want to track the status of any property building permit, you can go to DCRA Track Status of Bldg Permit Application.
Also, you can follow the link to a great 3 part series from NPR/WAMU that aired in 2015 on some of the city's recent development "challenges": DC Files Suit Against VA Couple Over House Renovations.