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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!

“ We had an outstanding experience with Wentworth Inc. From the very first stages of planning our renovation, and then throughout the process, we have been very happy with their workmanship, their professionalism and courtesy, and their real pride in their work and the outcome of the project. The architect and kitchen designer was fantastic, patient, and kind, and gave us all the guidance we wanted and needed in planning the overall design and the selection of hardware, lighting etc (down to the smallest details). In addition, the carpenters and other workmen were incredibly thoughtful of my family and made it easy to live in the house despite the presence of a significant constriction site on the first floor. They spent considerable time every day cleaning up the dust and leaving the site neat and safe. I would not hesitate to use Wentworth Inc for another home renovation project and could not recommend them more highly. ”

T.P., Washington, DC (GuildQuality)