Beware the Builder Man

HI HI HI! Anyone there?

I’ve decided to kick off 2018 with a First World bitchfest. Where to start? So many choices!

Last spring I started making plans to build the Peter H. Freeman Memorial Shed. Just an 8′ by 10′ studio to store my projects and do all my sanding and nasty chemical work so I don’t blow up the oil tanks in the basement.

Something like this, but with more windows:


Cute, right? I was so excited.

My 1930 house takes up about a quarter of its long, narrow lot. Plenty of room to add a little work shed. Though not according to the zoning dept. They want it 10′ from the property line, which puts it on my patio. And if I were to just go ahead and build the thing LIKE EVERYONE TOLD ME TO DO, I’d have to worry about the town finding out (thanks, Google Earth), slapping me with a fine, and ordering me to take it down. This annoying process wasted several weeks of my life.

So, apologies to my neighbors, there will be a fireball in the coming months. Though if I survive the blast, I can look forward to my time in the burn unit designing a new house!

Meanwhile, as my shed dreams withered and died, this situation was unfolding across the street:


And now:



Almost 5,000 SF and $2.4 million in UGH. Twice the size and well over twice the $ of every other house around it.

Who’s going to buy this thing, and for God’s sake WHY? (As I write this, Realtor Lady is there, hosting a very lonely open house, her BMW SUV parked in the mud along the street, atop a variety of garbage and dog shit. You’d think since she stands to make $70K-plus on the sale, it might behoove her to take a few minutes to pick it up. But that’s a whole other issue.)

I don’t have a photo of what used to be there—a grassy lot with old maple trees. There was also a view of the wedding-cake Victorian stage right of Great White. But as is happening everywhere, Builder Man is moving in. Buying up property and older, smaller homes and constructing massive Hummer houses that only a certain kind of person with a certain kind of bank account can afford.

A few months ago I snuck into the house’s realtors-only open house. I’ll admit it was kinda nice inside, especially if you like huge, useless hallways, 500 SF bathrooms, and bedrooms 1,000 feet apart. When I said tongue-in-cheek to Realtor Lady waiting inside with dollar signs in her eyes that, as a neighbor, I hoped she found someone cool to buy it, she said in her best East Coast Valley Girl voice, “Oh. My. God. How could whoever buys this house NOT BE COOL?”

Um, the chances are pretty good, actually. Lots of money, dumb, no taste. Like Donald Trump. That NOT BE COOL.

With all the fantastic house designs that someone could go with—designs that people would buy in a hot second—I don’t get how this stuff happens.

The consensus around town re: this house is that “it could have been worse.” I swear to gawd, 20 people said this to me. But all I can see—beyond its cyclops eye flanked by beady side-eyes topped by a Frida Kahlo unibrow—is excess, greed, consumption, and waste, in a region that’s making damn well sure none of those riff-raff teachers, artists, writers, nurses, regular folk, will ever be able to move in.

My town is a former oystering village, historically working- and middle-class, with a mix of gorgeous Victorians and smaller, more modest houses. And here’s what’s replacing those modest houses once they come on the market:


And this:


BTW, that house on the left is ONE UNIT, and… IT’S IN A FLOOD ZONE!

It’s so ridiculous it’s almost hilarious.

Some of these eyesores sit on the market for years, and whoever finally buys one might live in only a portion of it, pay the enormous taxes and utilities, then move out a few years later. It’s not like it’s someone building their dream house—it’s builders making the banks happy.

I know this is probably my liberal bubble talking, but I thought that people, younger generations specifically, wanted to downsize, economize—their lives, their stuff, the OIL AND GAS AND COAL AND WATER required to keep these massive houses maintained. It’s like the $525 million mall going up a few miles from my house, despite all the talk of “zombie malls” and the end of brick-and-mortar shopping. Same thing with golf courses. And yet.

I guess there are many architects, builders, realtors, landscapers, and interior designers who benefit from this craziness. And I guess when you’ve got these massive houses going up, people then gotta shop to fill them with stuff. So in that sense, it’s FOR THE PEOPLE. But I can’t help but think that it’s all at the expense of the greater good.

Oy. My mental file of Things That Make No F**king Sense is maxed out.

Time for a cute doggie pic. This is Bear. He’s the best:






14 thoughts on “Beware the Builder Man

  1. I see you got Bear fired up to show his teeth at the ugliness! I thank my lucky stars that there are still senseable people willing to let it all out! Now go cuddle with Ramona and Sunny and Bear and let the realtor lady cry in her latte, cause you are the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good to see you back on “Retrograde” though the subject sucks.
    I think somewhere down the line you will find a solution for this . One solution would be: Can you not do this, then blow up the town fathers who would object to it?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So well stated! Pesky artists.. yeah this kind of shit is happening all over the US. I’m one of the few holdouts in my increasingly gentrified hood in Seattle. Old houses are being demolished and replaced with processed looking rectangles that my ilk cannot afford.


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