Lifestyles of the Rich and Duct Taped

Have I ever told you about the weird house next door to me? NO? Oh, you have to hear this one.

As you may recall, when I first moved into my current abode, the place next door was a rental that housed a group of adorable goth college students that sometimes forgot to wear clothes and had a wireless account that would pop up on my computer with the moniker “Necropolis of Angels.” I felt very maternal towards these nymphs with black eyeliner. I really thought they were so cute.

After a few months, the house got put up for sale. The goth kids moved out and a woman, let’s call her Edna, bought the house. Edna didn’t move in. Rather, she was going to fix it up and sell it. We had seen the inside of the house before and it was quite nice already, as was the outside, but a little minor spruce up seemed in order. Like maybe a new front door, or a nice power wash, or some tree pruning, or the cracks in the driveway fixed up. Spit shine it up a little (pardon the disgusting phrase) and that house would have been pretty dang nice.

Edna, however, had bigger plans. She started tearing that house to smithereens, redoing everything that she could think of. She had a couple of guys that worked on it for her, and I think they maybe had drunk some Ty Pennington Kool-aid or something, because they started to make the house bigger.

And bigger.

And bigger.

Soon, it was the biggest honker on the block. Now I know that big houses are as American as apple pie and Robin Leach (well, you know what I mean), but Nordic Boy and I are not a fan of big houses. It would be accurate to say that we are small house enthusiasts. Compact living is what we love and therefore, we do not live large. We live small. There were many things we loved about our block when we bought this house (easy trip to both of our jobs, easy bus routes, diversity on our block, proximity to good grocery stores, etc.) and the fact that the aesthetic of the block consisted of cute, small houses was part of the charm. We didn’t sign up to live next to a McMansion. The framing of that house next door started to get taller and taller, and we started to squirm a little.

We hadn’t seen anything yet.

As the crew of people (who we are pretty sure are relatives of Edna’s, by the way) started to work on the house, things got kind of unbearable. The crew? Had no idea what the fark they were doing. And if there’s one thing about Nordic Boy, it’s that he is a crafty craftsman of the perfectionist persuasion. When he sees people start to slap shit together on a house (this act is what he calls “the dark side of DIY”), it makes him a little uncomfortable, but he can swallow it. But Edna’s house was winning a gold medal in janked up bad construction and design. I wish I could describe the horrific things that started happening to this house adequately, but let me just give you a couple of examples. Various types of mistmatched shingles were tacked on top of brick walls, so you could still see the brick walls through them. Finishing nails were used as structural support for stairways. Wall seams on the garage were duct taped together. Downspouts were installed so that water would be poured directly onto windows. A white picket fence was put all the way around the top of the garage, like on the roof of the garage, for a reason that has still not been made clear.

I am not making this up. It is the most rickety renovation ever. Like you could sneeze near it and pieces of the house would fall off. The largesse of the house is now the least of our complaints. The sheer MESSED-UP-NESS is mind boggling. People who walk down our street regularly stop in their tracks and stare up at this house with their mouths hanging open. If we are outside, they ask us about it. “What is the DEAL with this house?” they say. We shrug our shoulders and then we all stand there and shake our heads together. This happens at least once a week.

Months went by. They kept adding weird stuff to the house. A year went by, and they were still adding. Cedar shingles over here! Red brick over there! Colonial style eaves over there! A strange gold eagle ensignia nailed to the front of the house! How long could they keep doing this? Would it ever end? This woman paid a decent price for this house to begin with, had more than doubled the size, and then proceeded to fuck the entire thing up beyond recognition. In this economy, we kept wondering…was she thinking that she was going to turn a profit on this thing? Who the HELL was going to buy it? How much money had Edna poured into it over the past year of Extreme Crazy Home Makeover?

Finally, this summer, she seemed almost done. Suddenly, there was a FOR RENT sign in front of the house, with flyers. Of course, having watched this renovation for over a year, we were curious. We snagged a flyer.

Hey guys! You could have been my next door neighbor by renting this deliciously remodeled 3-bedroom home. For just FIVE THOUSAND AND FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS A MONTH!

I don’t know where you guys live, but in my world, that shit is Bee Ay En Ay En Ay ESS. Over five thousand dollars a month? In rent?

Let me just say this. I live on a nice street, yes. But not a fancy street. My street has little houses with little cute yards. This is not the Hamptons. Or TriBeCa. Or Daddy Warbucks MoneyTown. We do not pay that kind of money for rent. Or for mortgages. Or for anything. ESPECIALLY NOT JANKY HOUSES THAT ARE DUCT TAPED TOGETHER.

That For Rent sign sat there, and sat there. No takers? Really?

Then, one day, there were people. And they were living in the house! They were strange, nocturnal people who never seemed to go in or out, but we saw cars in the driveway and lights on at night. WOW. Someone had forked out the cash to live in the weirdo house.

Only, they hadn’t forked out the cash. One day, Edna came up to our door. She asked us if we had met the new neighbors. We said no, we hadn’t. She said that she was there that day to serve them up with an eviction notice, because they had never paid any rent. Not one dollar. Edna had rented to them without references, without a deposit, and now, without any rent.

We had squatters next door, y’all! And they were living it up with the duct taped walls!

The next week, they were gone.

What would happen next? Surely Edna and her money pit were going to have to part ways soon. How long could she keep this up?

Then, a month or so ago, the sign went up. FOR SALE. We were relieved. Edna was going to be free of her self-made disaster.

We picked up a flyer for the house, and you know what that sucker is going for?


Ooh la la, my street is so fancy! I have a house for sale right next door, in this stankface economy, for a cool million! And you even get a picket fence on top of the garage! I think I saw that on Cribs once!

There is NO WAY IN HELL that any of the houses on my street are going for a million dollars. Who is this Edna person and how does her mind work? I mean, where does she think she is? And can she honestly look at that house and think yes, that is a fine quality piece of real estate I have created?

It’s been sitting there for another month. Empty. The duct tape peeling off in the cold.

Something’s gotta give, people. Right? I mean, seriously. Right??

I’m out,
Librarian Girl


  1. thelady is totally right. sounds like dame edna is a devotee to Flip this House–you know, the kind of fan who watches it in fast-forward. on mute. i’m really curious as to what/who happens to this house, too. keep us updated!

  2. As soon as I read Money Pit, I was there, that film with Tom Hanks! Love it! What a strange thing to do. You must take a sneaky photo and post it so that we get a true idea of the hideous-ness. Surely deserving of a YIKES!

  3. I actually don’t blame the house flipping shows because, based on your description, Edna has never seen a single house flipping show in her life. (Unless she watches as Cadiz has described.) Otherwise, she would know that you flip your house according to specific standards. Certain upgrades, everything vanilla, house kept properly in its neighborhood context, etc. Edna don’t be having no sense, dude.

  4. great story. sorry you are the one living it. ever called the city’s building inspectors? did edna? one day a lawyer who specializes in construction litigation is going to have a field day with this house.

  5. I’m sure you’ve thought to call code enforcement, right?I fear Enda’s family lives next door to us. They are tired from all the work they did in your neighborhood and they refuse to do anything here. I politely let the guy next door know his sprinkler was leaking (river of water 24/7, not just when they were running) and he said, “Yeah. One day I’m going to have to get to that.” Um, okay. That was months ago. Now the sidewalk is going to have to come up because it’s been floating for months. I fear this is just the beginning as the bushes now cover their windows. And I live in a neighborhood of meellion dollar homes

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