House Wars

As longtime readers of this blog may remember, I like to walk for exercise. Lately I have eschewed the W&OD Canal path and have just been walking in my neighborhood. It’s a nice neighborhood and I can vary my route from day to day. Of interest (and some concern) to me are the number of large new homes which are being erected in the subdivision. These McMansions are going up in the place of the 1950s-era tract homes which typify the neighborhood, and because they are large homes on small lots, they give the impression of shouldering the smaller homes out of the way.

Nowhere is this more evident than on the latter part of my current two-mile route. Here is a small house that’s clearly been around for a while:

And here is a very large home which is being built on the adjoining corner lot:

Now, at first glance one would think this is simply another case of a big-shouldered new house crowding a little old place. But look again:

No, look REALLY close (click on the photo for REALLY REALLY close):

Isn’t that fascinating? Someone is clearly over their property line. I expect it’s probably the little old house. Note the location of the construction fence. And that white area between the Big House’s bay window and the Little House’s back porch is not a space – it’s some form of wooden or metal partition that’s been placed between the properties. But regardless of who’s at fault here, seriously: who wants to live this way? Would I buy a great big fancy new house if my bay window was literally inches from my neighbor’s home? And what a great view my neighbors have!

Every time I walk past this site, I’m awestruck. The little house is currently occupied. The big house is not and is, in fact, still under construction. But soon it’ll be finished, and soon someone will want to move in. What happens then? What’s the story here? Is this an amicable arrangement? I’m so curious I can hardly stand it.

Who will win this House War? Stay tuned for further developments.


  1. Joan L.

    Do you think maybe it’s possible that the people building the big house bought both lots, and that they are living in the little house until the big one is finished? Then they will tear down the little one and make their backyard out of it’s lot.Man oh man, I sure hope so. If not, the people in the little house pretty good grounds for calling Building & Codes (even if they are infringing over the property line). The big house presents a hazard if fire or police authorities need access to the little house.

  2. Donna Migliaccio

    Your theory makes sense, although judging by the condition of the smaller house and the old cars that are often parked there, I wonder if the residents could afford the big place.I swear the next time I walk past and see a human being on either property, I’m asking what’s up.

  3. ArmchairActorvist

    I’ve enjoyed your blog since last year’s road trip; it’s a joy to read a well-written story that is, you know, normal. Regarding this poor little house which may have encroached on someone else’s property, I’ve heard that if someone has inadvertently overstepped property boundaries, but no complaint was made for a number of years, an “easement” is issued, which allows the original interlopers to remain, without penalty (as soon as the offending property changes hands, however, adjustments must be made). So, I hope the owners of the little house have been there for years and can’t be forced out by their neighbors. I also hope the McMansion is being built by an obnoxious developer, rather than a deserving family of six, and he won’t be able to sell the property due to its outlandish situation. Anyway, here’s hoping…

  4. Editaur

    I’m surprised that there isn’t some kind of setback rule that would oblige one of these houses to be built a certain distance from the other, or at least from the property line.If old house has in fact encroached or overstepped the line, it still looks like new house is doing its own encroachment.Joan offers a logical solution that I, too, hope is the answer. I would hate to see the neighborhood uglied up by a turf war.

  5. Anonymous

    That little houose will probably stand longer than the larger one considering the cheap stuff used to build the newer ones. I have a few not far from me that are selling for a couple of million but they don’t “look” the part.

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