Pip R. Lagenta|
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Saturday, April 5th, 2008
|The Money Pit
The house next door to my house is undergoing interior re-construction and exterior repair. It has been undergoing this construction for about nine months, now. It has had a team of workers going at it, day after day, weekends and holidays included, for the full nine months.
It is not a big house. When the house was first built in the early 1950’s, it had three bedrooms, and one bathroom. All the homes in this neighborhood are tract homes that fit that same description at the start. The first owners of the house had a large family of five offspring. They owned the house for over 45 years. In that time, they expanded the house into five bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms by changing the garage into living space and adding on to the back of the house. The last of the space in the back yard was lost when the original homeowners added a carport back there.
Four or five years ago, all of the kids had moved away and one of the parents had died. The house was sold.
The new owners just wanted to fix up the house and sell it for a profit. This they did. And a tidy profit they made, too. I saw the listing for the house. The asking price was well above the worth of anything else in the neighborhood. (Except for the "Superhouse" around on the next block, that some fool built before the zoning commission made such things illegal. That "Superhouse" takes up the full lot, goes to two stories plus attic, and has a master bathroom decorated in onyx and gold.)
So, the house next door was sold again for top dollar. The house had sat empty for about a year before it finally sold. By that time it was the very peak of the housing market: prices had reached their zenith. Since the house sold, home prices have done nothing but drop.
To the best of my knowledge, I have never seen the current owners. Based on the behavior of the construction workers, the home-owners don’t come around much. Or else the homeowners change their mind about what they want an awful lot. No one seems to be working from a written architectural plan.
I knew it was going to be a big construction job at the start when the first thing done was to put a port-a-potty out front. This told me that they were going to pull out the plumbing. This was nine months ago. The port-a-potty is still out front there today.
The first sign of trouble came when they built a new fence between my property and their property. It is a very nice, expensive fence which replaced the old and ugly fence that was falling apart. The nice new fence went all the way to the front sidewalk, as the old fence had. Then, the last twenty feet, or so, of the nice new (expensive) fence out near the sidewalk was removed! Soon, a fence of a slightly different style (but just as costly) was built in its place.
Holes appeared in the outside walls near the roof throughout the house. These were large holes and they stayed for months. New windows were installed all around the house. Then all the new windows were ripped out and newer windows of a slightly different style were installed in their place. So, a pattern had emerged.
A door was installed in the side of the house where no door had been before. No doorknobs nor latches were put on the new door, so that the door cannot be secured shut. I have closed it, but it immediately falls open. With the first rain, the unfinished door will warp and become unusable. Additionally, the house is noticeably open to neighborhood kids, thieves and the curious, all hours of the day and night.
A new roofing material was put on the house. The roofing material included new, thick (expensive) exterior roof insulation. To my untrained eye, it looked like a very poor job. I was not surprised, a few weeks later, to see the workers rip up the brand-new insulation, and put in its place thicker, more expensive, exterior roof insulation. That second doing of the job produced a better quality end result.
I can not see what is happening inside the house. However, the sounds of hammering, jack-hammering, and saws has come from inside the house, relentlessly, seven days a week, for nine months.
They put a wheelchair ramp up to the front door. Apparently, the house is being rebuilt for a particular use. The new wheelchair ramp up to the front door had a metal hand railing. In the last few days, the new metal hand railing had been jack-hammered out of the cement, and a slightly different metal hand railing was installed into the cement in its place.
Someone is taking the owners for a ride.
Due to the housing market alone, there is no way to sell the house for a profit (even if there had been no other costs). Due to the amount of money that has been sunk into the place in construction costs, the property is a dead loss... a massive dead loss. The use to which the current owners put the property must be meaningful in order to justify the cost, at least in the mind of the owners. It better be a damn good use. I have no idea what it could be.
The sound of hamming continued to come from inside the house today. I can't imagine when it will end.---Pip R. Lagenta