If there’s anyone out there who understands the dynamics of the urban rental biz, it is Larry Wooten. Here’s a guy that owns a four-unit apartment building in Trinidad. And you can bet that when Wooten is through with it, every last square inch of usable space in that bad boy will serve some critical function for human habitation.
Toward that end, Wooten emerged from the D.C. Home Depot today pushing one of those industrial carts full of 3/8-inch drywall.
What for the materials? Wooten is colonizing the attic in the unit that he currently inhabits but will soon vacate. That attic space is right on the border of being a huge boost to the rental value of his property. After he finishes everything up there, he’s going to have a ceiling of about seven feet in altitude—-not quite high enough for livable everyday quarters, but worthwhile as an add-on for storage and other such ancillary uses. “Anybody over 6-4 is going to have some problems in there,” says the 52-year-old Wooten.
Once finished, Wooten estimates that the attic space will add a good $200 in rent collections to a $1,200-per-month unit.
The next step, he says, is raising the roof, in the most literal sense. Another seven or ten inches of height on that roof, and that level is ready for prime time. It would turn a two-bedroom apartment into a 3- or 4-bedroom jobby.
But messing with the roof level is serious business, and Wooten isn’t quite ready to do it. “I’m not gong to do that till the neighborhood improves.”