Airbnb Story in Washington Post: How one couple turned a flooded basement into a cozy Airbnb retreat

Here is the gifted article:

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No wonder you liked the article, it’s full of brand names. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

“Budget-minded decorator” - $60,000 basement reno???

Sorry, but that 's not my idea of budget-minded. Not even close.


I didn’t say whether I liked it, sharing it with the forum as I thought it would be of interest.

Certainly it’s upscale.

Well! That felt very contrived!

It is “budget-minded” if a chunk of the $60k was covered up-front by insurance and the whole amount fully recovered in 18 months of Airbnb… after which it provides a client-and-insurance-financed ongoing revenue stream of $40k a year. In that particular location, you have a built-in high-end guest pool… and you need to appeal with high-end furnishings/appliances, materials, design, craftsmanship and extra touches.

“Budget-minded” doesn’t mean “on a shoestring,” – it means affordable given available funds, anticipated revenues and ROI. Given the market and the returns (as proven in their first six months) I would rate this as a well-minded and well-thought-out budget.


Locally here a basement bedroom needs an ‘egress window’ to be legal, in addition to specifics for ventilation. In my town, this is a big deal. For the amount of money spent I would think that this would have been addressed…Looks to me like the place will have trouble passing an inspection…


Ha! I live in this area and my first reaction was, “what a great low price for that reno!” There’s probably an egress window in the basement that’s just not visible in the photos.


I wasn’t saying that $60,000 wasn’t a reasonable amount for whatever construction renos were needed, nor that it wasn’t worth it for the income it can generate. But the article claimed they had a budget-minded decorator. $150 mini-kettle, $100 one-cup Cuisanart coffee-maker $80/each bedside table lamps, and $60 for 5 pieces of flatware isn’t what is “budget minded” in my world.

“We couldn’t afford a vanity but we spent $100 for a one cup coffee maker. After all, we have to be careful how we spend the $60,000 we got from insurance that paid for our poorly maintained sewage system in our moldy basement.”

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This is a one room set up, the bedroom isn’t separate. There is a window above the kitchenette that is probably the egress window. Their license number is posted on the listing.

I hope you find some joy in these holidays, Rolf.

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That’s the point of this kind of story… that and having Airbnb in the title is clickbait.

The word budget has unfairly come to mean “low budget.” 60k for that reno in the DC area actually does seem budget to me. Normally I’d have no idea but a former client moved to DC and I stayed in her home and saw the renos she did in addition to getting regular updates on cost.

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A room used as a bedroom is called a bedroom. For the fire marshall, it is simply any room with a bed.

The window you point to needs to have a ladder outside, and space thru the window and up to the surface, large enough for a fully equipped fireman - for DC, it is 5.7 sq feet of clear area window. The window has to be no higher than 40" from the floor of the room, and have nothing in front - no tables, couches, and certainly not a stove or sink. No, it is not an egress window.


In my current city, it’s not called a bedroom unless there’s a closet. A bed means nothing. The closet requirement is very specific. It has to be built-in, floor-to-ceiling in height and have at least 4 sq feet of floor space. Settled by clothes horses perhaps? (the other kind :wink: ).

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I don’t know. I see they are licensed and it seems doubtful that reno was never inspected but you could be right.

Where I live a bedroom has to have a window one can use to get out or it cannot be a bedroom. Found this out when I was looking for a place to buy and have a portion be the rental.

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Licensed by their town? For a C of O (certificate of occupancy)?

The code here is that there must be a window for ventilation and two means of egress but the window doesn’t have to be one of them if there are two others. But basement apartments are generally illegal here. I’ve only ever seen one finished basement ever here. It’s an illegal Airbnb so there’s that, lol.

She is a professional interior designer (not my taste but registered and professional nonetheless), with her own company, so there’s no way she’s skirting the fire codes. And then publicizing it all in WaPo.

There is an entire room in their listing that we aren’t seeing in the photos that is noted for emergency exits.

From their listing house rules:

“Owners closet/Utility room is private. Only enter for emergency exit.”

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Where our airbnb is located, egress can only be directly to the outside. Going through a door to get to the exit is illegal. And it is in DC! Too, apparently:

“ an emergency escape and rescue opening shall be required in each sleeping room. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall open directly into a public way, or to a yard or court that opens to a public way.”

What if the window is in the bathroom? You can’t put a door on the bathroom?

It’s like all homes would have to be an open plan with no doors?

Anyway, I’m sure your local codes don’t apply to an airbnb in DC.

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No, as it says in the code it must be a direct access: “ an emergency escape and rescue opening shall be required in each sleeping room. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall open directly into a public way, or to a yard or court that opens to a public way.”

Opening a door to go through another room to get exit is illegal in their city.