November 23, 2014

The Ugliest House in the World

I’ve been browsing real estate all day for a project that needs my attention.  I ended up wandering from community to community, and at one point, clicking on random states.  I somehow came across what has to be the ugliest piece of property I’ve ever seen in my life but now I can’t look away.  I’m fascinated.

What do you think the architect was going for in terms of inspiration?  Barn chic?  Even the placement of the doors; the proportions of the windows.  How does something like this happen?  Did a bank loan officer approve the construction note?  Is the little white picket fence symbolic?  I feel as if I’m looking at a modern art exhibit I don’t understand.  I can sort of make out the hairstyle of a Japanese Geisha in full white face makeup.

Ugly House

Then, you get to the weird internal hallways that remind me of something from a 1980’s horror movie where the layout of the blueprints had some sort of role in conjuring something that is intent on killing the teenage protagonists, which probably includes a suburban white girl wearing a jean jacket, with a bad perm, and who goes by the name “Becky” or “Tiffany”, which were all the rage during the reign of George Michael and the Beach Boys.  And it’s all sorts of sad because the only reason Becky’s in this stupid house in the first place is because she followed the popular boy she liked in on a dare – and he’s probably named something like “Brad” and is as dumb as a sack of bricks and goes around wearing acid-washed, sleeveless shirts.  Now, she’s being chased by some quasi-demon-ghost-monster from under the Indian burial ground on which the house was constructed, Brad is nowhere to be found, and the black guy is already dead because script writers back then were racist.

Look at the incompatibility of the yellow and tan hues in the carpet color and the wall paint.  It’s horrible.  The bad drywall job on the ceiling. The single light, which is going to be very unflattering compared to a more subtle, smaller perimeter pattern over every single door frame so it at least created an interesting sight line when you approached.

Ugly House 2

As I kept flipping through the pictures, thinking it couldn’t keep getting worse, I looked something like this:

tumblr_inline_mwc57vHleH1rom0i2

I want to know what kind of man or woman builds this.  What is their motivation?  This required planning.  It required money.  It required time.  Someone presumably chose to live here.  Think about that.

Do they believe it looks good, or is it something that goes horribly wrong and they feel powerless to stop it?  I once made a school bus with 24+ wheels on it in kindergarten (I figured if a few wheels were good, more must be better), so I can understand how that happens.  It takes on a life of its own and suddenly it’s like an out-of-control boulder crashing down a mountain. Maybe this house was their school bus.

Even the circle drive isn’t a proper circle with good mathematical proportions.  The person who built this house must have been totally unloved because no one would allow their family member or close friend to go through with a decision this bad.  Constructing something like this is up there with trying bath salts.

I … probably shouldn’t be typing this as these glimpses-into-how-my-mind works when confronted with something I don’t understand are one of those things that my friends and family see but should be kept from the Internet.  But I can’t resist because someone must have the answers I seek.  My brain can’t let it go.  I must bring order to this house.  I need to understand this house.  I must know it’s back story.  I might pull the property records and investigate.

If any of you are interested, it is located at 11539 Temepa Road, Pala, California, San Diego County, 92059 and sits on five acres.  The listed square footage doesn’t appear to match the pictures, and the style is described as “contemporary”, which makes even less sense as the style is somewhat reminiscent of cattle ranches you saw in Texas back in the 19th century, sans the charm, profitability, and functionality.  Despite having two bedrooms, it boasts four garages that are apparently sealed so they can’t be used.  Now we’re getting into existential and philosophical questions – if a garage can’t function as a garage, is it really a garage?

And the real estate listing is too optimistic.  It says things like, “Potential, potential, potential!!”, “Second level has terrific bonus room”, “Lot is mostly level”.  If I were listing this property, I would write: “I’m as confused as you are.”

  • segfault

    The thought process probably began with the requirement for a four car garage with four separate doors, and spiraled out of control from there. A rough sketch of the demented way I imagine the thought process:
    – Four car garage: Check!
    – I have to live somewhere. Put the living quarters in the middle.
    – I want an outside entrance on each garage. Put those on either side of the front door. There’s no way that could possibly confuse anyone.
    – The house looks like a giant rectangle. It would look more interesting if it were curved.
    – Gee, there’s not much living space. Better add a gambrel roof and finish the upstairs. Be sure not to waste any space, even if the roof lines intrude on the wall/ceiling lines a little.
    – Well, it’s finished. What a masterpiece! I will celebrate the freedom I enjoy in not having to deal with a homeowners association by leaving my garbage can out in front of the house 7 days a week.

    It looks like there is a lot of windowless space on the second story, which I can only assume is intended to be used for storage. I assume the first picture is of the front of the house. If so, extra style points for having multiple plumbing vents visible on the front side of the roof.

    • http://www.joshuakennon.com/ Joshua Kennon

      The cherry on top? The garages aren’t even garages in that they have been sealed off and would require construction to function again!

      And there are “4 secondary bedrooms” … but it’s listed as a 2 bedroom house that needs “cosmetic repairs”.

      The more I look into it, the more confused I become. It’s like I’m looking at a property constructed by a Congressional committee using taxpayer dollars to bribe a construction firm that needed to look busy.

      I didn’t even notice the plumbing vents. I was too enchanted by the one skylight, which really sells the place. And … is that a dog entrance on the right hand side? Or what? I can’t tell.

      • Scott McCarthy

        If I had to guess, the difference between “bedroom” and “secondary bedroom” is probably a lack of closets in the “secondary bedrooms” (or some other such check-box left blank on the technical local definition).

        That and the “garages” may have been an intentional attempt to avoid being assessed as a “6-bed, 4-car garage” house. I mean, you’d like to think something was intentional…

        If you tilt your head to the side, squint, and take a hit of LSD, it kinda of looks like a Dutch Colonial.

        • http://www.joshuakennon.com/ Joshua Kennon

          That would do it. I didn’t even think about it because I’m so used to my local property rules (there was a fire some years ago so now it’s illegal to label anything within certain limits a “bedroom”, or even hint at it, unless it has a closet, a door of its own, and some exterior exit that could be used to escape in the event of an emergency).

          I see the Dutch Colonial thing now … it’s sort of to Dutch Colonial what this cat is to Himalayans.

        • Scott McCarthy

          I’m wondering now if by “contemporary” they just mean to imply it doesn’t conform to any previously know style…

      • François Wirion

        This is to a house what a teratoma is to a baby.

        Now don’t go look up teratoma, you have seen enough horror here. *chuckles evilly*

        • M.O.S.

          noooooo!!!! I went searching on Google images. I had to close the tab after one glance…

          If anyone else is curious, DON’T.

  • Richard Garand

    The only possible explanation is that it’s the home-building industry’s easter egg. Congratulations on finding it.

  • poor.ass.millionaire

    The short answer to your question: some people have BAD TASTE. Really bad taste. And bad taste is augmented by people trying to “style” a house (i.e. The faux barn doors, “interesting” curved layout, etc.) which in actuality make matters worse. Sometimes much worse. This place reminds me of what I call third world sheik- I’ve seen plenty of absolutely horrid house designs in different countries that try to mimic western styles. China comes to mind.

    Here in San Francisco we have some pretty strange things- people who have hacked or cobbled together old and new on the cheap, that 50’s faux rock facade (think Fred Flinstone’s house), and I’ve seen some vintage 70’s remodels of once grand Victorians that just makes you ask, “why?” The best was a run down Victorian that was formerly a crack house. As the agent walks us in to the first open house, everyone is aghast at how rancid and discussing the place was. I break the ice by asking the agent, “oh, you must tell me the name of your stager. I mean, they really captured the crack-house-aesthetic perfectly! Down to the spend condoms and empty junk food wrappers on the floor. Very authentic.” Everyone broke out laughing. Yep, real estate can be fun.

    • poor.ass.millionaire

      “Third world chic”. Oops.

  • Rob

    Is that GIF the guy from Shameless?

    • http://www.joshuakennon.com/ Joshua Kennon

      I’m not sure. Maybe someone else knows?

  • joe pierson

    Seems like lots of ugly houses in that area, eg 12605 Rancho Heights Rd, Pala, CA 92059, looks like three ugly houses brought together by a tsunami

  • Farmer T

    What is your problem, this is a fine California ranch house!

    • mikecrosby

      Agreed. If it’s on the market, it will surely get multiple offers.

    • http://www.joshuakennon.com/ Joshua Kennon

      You’re probably not serious, but just in case (the house has traded hands several times in the past, so you never know – there are buyers out there who continue to sink money into this black hole): I require cohesion? A unified vision? Whether minimalist or traditional, farm or city, the whole package needs to work together. Even if I hate a property, if you can see the aesthetic gestalt, I can at least appreciate that it holds appeal to someone, somewhere. The Romans were on to something with the whole, “De gustibus non est disputandum” thing.

      This is chaos. It’s basic signaling theory. Every marketer on the planet recognizes the truth that how you choose to dress, how you arrange your home, even what breakfast cereal you eats reveals a bit about your personality, values, prejudices, and priorities. Finding that floor plan workable, or thinking it is salvageable at a rational expense relative to ultimate benefit, would send up red flags to me about a person’s judgment. Or, at the very least, I would think they were hopelessly naive when it came to money, which appears to be the case given that one of the other readers discovered its already been through foreclosure twice in the past as the property tends to attract those who can’t afford it. For it to be distressed a third time in twenty years when it’s not in an area like Detroit is statistically interesting. This house is calling to a certain type of buyer with a certain type of personality.

      What do I mean when I say a unified vision? Consider this California ranch house (see pictures), which is much smaller, on a much tinier piece of land, but the owners had an idea, a thread, that ran throughout the entire property. Even if it’s not your style, you can appreciate what they’ve done. Better, if you wanted to change it, the raw bones are conducive to achieving that, giving it bonus points. Both in terms of financial investment, and in living quality, it’s going to be superior because it has greater appeal to a wider percentage of the population.

    • http://www.joshuakennon.com/ Joshua Kennon

      You’re probably not serious, but just in case (the house has traded hands several times in the past, so you never know – there are buyers out there who continue to sink money into this black hole): I require cohesion? A unified vision? Whether minimalist or traditional, farm or city, the whole package needs to work together. Even if I hate a property, if you can see the aesthetic gestalt, I can at least appreciate that it holds appeal to someone, somewhere. The Romans were on to something with the whole, “De gustibus non est disputandum” thing.

      This is chaos. It’s basic signaling theory. Every marketer on the planet recognizes the truth that how you choose to dress, how you arrange your home, even what breakfast cereal you eats reveals a bit about your personality, values, prejudices, and priorities. Finding that floor plan workable, or thinking it is salvageable at a rational expense relative to ultimate benefit, would send up red flags to me about a person’s judgment. Or, at the very least, I would think they were hopelessly naive when it came to money, which appears to be the case given that one of the other readers discovered its already been through foreclosure twice in the past as the property tends to attract those who can’t afford it. For it to be distressed a third time in twenty years when it’s not in an area like Detroit is statistically interesting. This house is calling to a certain type of buyer with a certain type of personality.

      What do I mean when I say a unified vision? Consider this older model California ranch house (see pictures), which is much smaller, on a much tinier piece of land, but the owners had an idea, a thread, that ran throughout the entire property. Even if it’s not your style, you can appreciate what they’ve done. Better, if you wanted to change it, the raw bones are conducive to achieving that, giving it bonus points. Both in terms of financial investment, and in living quality, it’s going to be superior because it has greater appeal to a wider percentage of the population.

    • http://www.joshuakennon.com/ Joshua Kennon

      P.S. Again, I’m going to go on the assumption you’re kidding, but I found some examples in wildly divergent styles just in case someone else is actually thinking what you said. The people designing and constructing these homes had a cohesive vision. Whether you love or hate the style (and some of these are not my particular cup of tea), there’s an indisputable intelligence that runs throughout the structure that not only makes a statement, but leaves it open to the possibility it could be slightly modified in the future. Even if I don’t, personally, see the beauty, I see how someone else can. They were built that way because someone wanted them built that way. They were not an accident, or the horrible outcome of a series of illogical decisions that were never corrected. They were conceived and constructed, whereas the original listing was assembled in a Frankenstein-like confusion of mishmash and desperation.

  • Ashly

    This house has been through foreclosure at least 2 other time…first in 1996 and again in 2000. It looks like those who live here end up losing everything trying to figure out how to make this monstrosity work.

    • http://www.joshuakennon.com/ Joshua Kennon

      I’m going to guess that it appeals to a certain psychology profile. I’d love to get my hands on the data and do case studies of the people who are attracted to it. I realize this is what firms like Lexus Nexus do with consumer data all the time, but it seems like such an odd outlier in aesthetics and function, I need to understand the warped mind of someone who would be drawn to it. Is it that they are clueless and don’t know any better? Do they just have horrible taste (which seems to be the verdict reading the other comments)? Is their sense of mathematical proportion off from the general population?

      • poor.ass.millionaire

        rich
        horrendous
        taste

        3 words

  • Exquisite Decay

    That interior photo reminds me of those fun houses where they have optical illusions. Just paint horizontal stripes on the wall in such a way as to make it look like someone is suddenly really tall as they walk to the back and then becomes disproportionately small when they step forward.

  • Steve

    That is….unusual.

    My first thought is that it is the compound of some cultist guru, with a ‘garage’ for each of his sister wives.

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