punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

On new housing and cheap building

Last night I had dinner with Nate and his wife Jen. I got to see where they live (for now, they are trying to buy a house), and they currently live in one of those Tetris-style condo/townhouse complexes that have sprung up like weeds in this area for the last 15 years. I say Tetris-style, because the floor plans are kind of stacked in odd shapes. Like you'd have one "chunk" of these homes where several homes will have the front doors next to each other. Some will be ground floor dwellings, so you open the door, snake through a narrow twisting hallway, and end up in a kitchen. Some will have stairs that go up, and dump you in a living room. Sometimes your living room floor will be the ceiling of a bedroom of another apartment below, or maybe just the stairwell of the apartment next to you. One room in such a house could be surrounded by the rooms of up to four different neighbors, like the right wall will be your right neighbors's bedrooms, the left wall will be your left neighbor's kitchen, below you is your back neighbor's garage, and above you is the floor of your top neighbor's sun room. In order for all these homes to fit together like an almost Escher-esque 3-D puzzle, there are a lot of thin hallways, curving stairwells, creative floor plans with lack of walls to save space (Nate and Jen's have one big living room/kitchen/dining area only separated by the half-height kitchen counter), and... well, it seems like whomever made them had some damn sophisticated 3-D modeling software. I'm sure these end up this way because of a computer model showing maximum floor space in such an arrangement, but they sure confuse someone not used to it. The neighborhood itself was VERY poorly designed. Like some houses have private garages, some only have driveways, and some just have reserved parking in group lots. The biggest flaw is that they don't have enough parking. Like for about 100 homes, they only have 8 "visitor" parking spaces, which Nate warned us about, using words like "stupid" and "insane." The lot is way the hell out of the way, too. It's parked BEHIND some houses, in an unlit area, with no sidewalks in some places, so you're either forced to walk on the street or across the landscaped lawns. And the landscaping is even worse. These houses look fairly new, they even smell new (drywall dust, paint, fresh wood kind of smell, or as my son commented, "smell like a Hatteras Beach house" which are rebuilt every few years after hurricanes), and they seem to think short-term, if you look at the construction. Landscape is another giveaway, since they plant bushes in places with little sunlight, no access to rainwater, or the worst crime: trees that grow large in spaces they cannot grow into. Not one of these planners think about what these places will look like in 20 years. I estimate in about 10 years, there will be major structural problems. Property values will drop. As people leave the properties for better ones, they will turn into low-income housing, and with nothing for poor people to do around there, crime will go up. Finally, they will be knocked down, and new homes will go up in 2030, probably a huge high-rise by that point, that will tower into the sky like they have done in Reston.

I play Sim City. I know how this goes. :)

Anyway, for now, the places look nice, and Nate and Jen made us some pollo con arroz dish with a delicious banana pudding dessert. Then we played games, like Slap, which I didn't care for, and Scattergories, where I won 2 out of 3 games. Then we played Trivial Pursuit, Pop Culture DVD edition. I am a fact hound, and my brain works overtime a lot, so I kind of like those types of games. Before I left, Nate gave me an old Sun Box, saying he fried the power supply, and for $25 I could get it running again. "I never want to see it again" he said.

Why did I take it home? I have a problem with orphaned computers, I do ... just say "no" Punkie!

Anyway, today I am taking it easy until 3, when I'll go see "Hellboy" with Christine and Rogue. Then tomorrow, I am going to Nate's parent's house, where we're celebrating his birthday. Then I have next week off, where I am going to slum around, play with computer parts, and maybe play with POV-Rayand Moray as a "gift to myself," since a lot of my recent tech learning has been pretty much "for work." I'll probably work on my garden, too. As I predicted, the cucumbers have already sprouted, and are growing quickly. And get some writing and housework done. Maybe up[date my website to Moveable Type. But I want to make sure I take it easy!

No sense needing a vacation after my vacation.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000452.html

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