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Preventing Tree Root Damage During a DC Home Remodel

From Online Remodeling Book Chapter 3: “A Tree Grows in Spring Valley”

I often joke that I really have two clients for my remodeling projects: the homeowners and the house. In other words, I aim for solutions that serve the owners’ goals and also work well with the home’s original style. When it came to one major addition, however, you could say that I had a third client: a magnificent, full-grown tulip poplar.

The big tulip poplar (complete with tree fort) is just visible through the windows of the new family room, where 9-foot-high ceilings accommodate oversize windows.

The big tulip poplar (complete with tree
fort) is just visible through the windows
of the new family room, where 9-foot-high
ceilings accommodate oversize windows.

I first met with the new owners of the house – and the tree – just before they closed on their purchase, a small residence on a large, level lot in the Northwest Washington neighborhood of Spring Valley. The wife, an economics reporter, and her husband, a lawyer, were moving from Chicago with their two sons, ages 3 and 6. They loved the generous backyard, but wanted to make the house larger and more suitable for the family. Built in about 1950, it had just a few first-floor rooms – a dining room, living room, galley kitchen, and half bath – and a group of bedrooms and baths upstairs. At the rear, a small, box-style addition supplied a first-floor sunroom and a second-floor study, accessible only from the parents’ bedroom.

Home Addition Planning: Preserving the Tree

Their plan was straightforward: strip off the old box addition and replace it with a much more substantial two-story addition that would include, on the first floor, an open-plan kitchen and family room intended as the center of daily life. The second floor of the addition would house a new master suite, including a master bedroom, master bath and walk-in closet. In the existing house, a first-floor home office for the husband would replace the old, front-facing kitchen, and the washer and dryer – previously marooned in the basement – would move to a convenient location on the second floor.

Although the addition would almost double their living space, the couple wanted it to be unobtrusive, designed and built in sympathy with the home’s Colonial Revival style. Using environmentally friendly materials was also a priority. And then they mentioned the backyard tree.

To learn more about how our team built the two-story addition without damaging the grand tulip poplar tree, download the eBook!

“ The quality of the finish work was incredible…This is a top-quality architectural design/build firm that will not disappoint you when it comes to the quality of thinking about design, and the quality of execution on the part of their employees. Unlike many firms, they are committed to the working within your budget but will stretch your dollar in precisely the right direction—to maximize your investment’s value to you and your home…I hope Wentworth is as proud of the work they did for us as we are of having worked with them. ”

J.A.N., McLean, VA