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The Role of Rear Ell (Dogleg) in Architecture

The secrets of rear ell – What every architect should know!

Rear ells are a very common feature of historic DC homes, they are prolific in Capitol Hill, Dupont Circle and Georgetown.

Often there is a jog in the otherwise rectalinear or rectangular type shape of a rowhome’s footprint. Typical DC rowhomes, at least for the majority of historic rohomes, have a jog and in the rearmost wall of the home do not extend all the way clear from property line to property line.   This jog is referred to as a dog leg or rear ell.

The picture below shows a dog leg it’s a dog leg looking down from the the roof. You can see that there is an air conditioning condenser unit in this particular dog leg which is very common. Doglegs are often used space that HVAC contractors sometimes find to be a useful location to install condenser units. The remainder of DC yards are often otherwise not large enough to accommodate bulky HVAC condenser units comfortably, especially when useful yard space is so coveted.

rear ell ak dog leg