The Seattle hosing market, along with the rest of the country, has been experiencing a huge increase in prices. Starter homes in popular Seattle City suburbs cannot be found for under $400K. What does $400K get you? A late 1920's 3 bedroom one-story house. If you want more house, expect to shell out more cash. Four bedroom two story homes often exceed $500-600K. With these prices, new home developers have been cashing in on the housing boom.
Most desirable suburbs were built in the 20's and 30's. While most homes are well kept up, a few fall into disrepair, leaving the land worth more than the structure. When this happens, developer will buy up the property, tear down the old house, and frantically build a new one. It's basically a race to capture these outrageous real estate prices, which won't last forever.
In order to maximize profits, the developer will build the largest house legally (and illegally) possible. How does one maximum volume (house) for a minimal surface area (lot)? Build a large rectangular cube. The result is a Borg cube like home - an oversized ugly building that just doesn't fit in with the rest of the neighbor. It definitely erodes at the charm and character of the neighbor.
My neighbor, Greenwood, is littered with such behemoth new homes. Instead of ranting to my friends and neighbors about this, I decided to put together a "New Housing Hall of Shame". Maybe I'll get some sympathy here on the Internet. Enjoy.
This is a pretty common occurrence - a yard less townhouse style home. Note that this is technically considered a 2-story house with a basement. What you may observe as the first floor is what they call a basement. To reach the "first floor" involves a full flight of stairs (not yet installed). There's also the 30-foot height rule - homes cannot be more than 30 feet tall (plus an extra 5 feet for the roof). If I only had some way to measure this.
I really feel sorry for the neighbors in the yellow house.
Okay, this house isn't exactly cube-like, but it could be mistaken for an office building. Maybe a dentist or insurance broker? Once again this is only a "two-story" home. But they do get some credit for the basement actually being somewhat underground. Still, it towers ominously over its neighbors. Reminds me of the Bank of China building in Hong Kong (with its bad Feng Shui design that's considered bad taste).
Well, that's all the pictures I have for now. Expect more in the future.
Update October 31, 2005
Just a day after I wrote this, the Seattle P.I. runs an article on this exact same subject.
Article: 'Houses on steroids' muscle their way in, Discussion
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