Tuesday, September 4, 2007

There Goes the Neighborhood

About a month ago, my next-door neighbor casually mentioned that they were planning to put aluminum siding on their perfectly good (and recently-painted) wood-sided house.

Nothing happened for over two weeks. And I began to hope that maybe he was just joking. Or had thought better of it. Or something.

But no. The reprieve was due only to the steady rain we had all through the first two or three weeks of August. And two weeks ago, the sun came out and the vandals arrived, in the person of a crew from a nationally-advertised aluminum siding company. They proceeded over the next week and a half to hack off window mouldings, corner boards, and gable-end barge boards and brackets. They covered over storey-line trim, rafter-ends, and fish-scale shingles. Everything that made the neighbors' house interesting, distinctive, and even charming was gone, either destroyed or hidden from view.

I was shocked at how hard I took it. It made me physically ill to awaken at 7:00 AM to the sound of the workmen's pry bars and hammers. It was heart-wrenchingly painful to look out my stair hall window and see the desecrating strips of metal rise higher and higher in my field of view (They started on the side facing my house. Wasn't I lucky).

And what a joy (*rolls eyes*) it is to look out my kitchen window and be confronted with bad butt joints in the aluminum siding and inept mitre joints at the alumimum window trim, where before I'd seen the lively texture of the line and profile of the wood siding. And have you ever noticed how aluminum siding manufacturers press this ersatz wood texture on their product? It looks like something that's come unsanded straight from the mill, that no self-respecting old-time finish carpenter would ever allow to be seen on his work. Damn it, if you're going to engulf your dwelling with tin, make it smooth and sleek like tin and get it over with!

I wanted to vent my frustration in blogdom while the deed was being done, but I needed a telling After shot to make the point. And I wasn't able to get that until today. Didn't have the nerve to do it while the workmen were still there. Did not want to be asked what I thought of their job. Much less did I want the same question put to me by the neighbors.

But I got out with my camera this afternoon. Here's the exhibits in the case.

Front of house, Before:
Front of house, After:
From the rear, Before:
From the rear, (almost) After:

So here you have it. What can my neighbors have been thinking?

By now my distress has flattened out towards dull, fatalistic acceptance. It helps if I keep my glasses off while I'm on that side of my house-- I don't notice the tacky workmanship quite so much. And I tell myself that if my otherwise sane, sensible neighbors wanted to renounce their cute house with its character and live in a boring metal box just like every other metal box up and down this wide land of ours, that's their business and their loss.

It's my loss, too. But here's one bright spot, I suppose: I no longer have the ugliest house on the block.


Suileeka said...

Wow. Just wow. Why would someone pay to have that sort of horror inflicted on their house? That wood siding was gorgeous. :(

Whenever I've seen one of those aluminum boxes, I've always wondered when the builder was going to come back and finish the house..I didn't realize that flat, character-less look was supposed to be the finished product!

jeannie said...

This makes me so incredibly sad.