Guess How Much a House with No Roof or Floor Costs in my D.C. Neighborhood

There is a rowhouse in my neighborhood that has no roof. It looks nice and normal from the front, but from the back, it’s completely bare. A few months ago, Joey was walking our dog and noticed a For Sale sign had been posted in the front lawn. We had to investigate.

We live in a wealthy D.C. neighborhood, but it’s not the most affluent. Our rent is more affordable than a few of the surrounding areas. But when Joey found the house online, we were shocked by how much it was going for.

How much do you think this costs?

house 2

Just guess. No, higher. A lot higher.


And want to know something else? There’s another rowhouse down the street in the same condition with a mere 100 more square feet selling for $1.05 million.


From the front, you could be fooled into thinking these were normal homes. But take one step inside an open house and fall to your death.

Let’s explore the deets.

home 2

I blacked out the address because I didn’t want to embarrass the seller. But look—they labeled it a studio. How partially honest of them. There are, indeed, no bedrooms. And 0 baths. There are also no floors, and, as far as I understand, when you buy a studio, it normally includes ground covering to walk on that isn’t gravel.

And then the description: “A prime location to build your dream home!” and some nonsense about “make your dreams come true!” If by dreams they mean debt-ridden nightmares, then yes, I believe them. The average cost of building one’s own home in D.C. is $187.50 per square foot. For this house, that would cost an additional $450,000 to build.

That’s $1.4 million for a house. Nope.

I say “nope” as if I have an option, like I have that sort of money lying around and am choosing not to spend it. It’s more like “nope” that will never be possible for me, but even if I had the money, hell no. Because I know that a similarly-priced home near my Indiana hometown (which is rare, most are way cheaper) would get me 10,000 square feet, 7 bathrooms, a pool, and, oh yes, a house:

b-town 1

Did we ever actually solve the underlying problems of the 2008 housing crash? If 3 walls and 2 dozen beams costs almost a million dollars—and if it seems like Joey and I would need to move back to the Midwest to become homeowners—it seems we have not.

Until next time,

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