What Makes a House Ugly? The McMansion Question – The Wall Street Journal

What Makes a House Ugly? The McMansion Question – The Wall Street Journal

HomeVestors – What Makes a House Ugly? The McMansion Question
Dec 11 2007, By Dana Mattioli / The Wall Street Journal

What makes a house ugly? This Sarasota, Fla.-house (at left) was just awarded the title of “Ugliest House of the Year” by HomeVestors of America, a Dallas-based company whose franchisees buy and sell homes in need of repair. The company ran an online contest, asking visitors to its site to vote from a selection of ten photos of homes that were sent in by HomeVestors’ franchisees.

The “winner,” a 1,295 square foot Sarasota home lacking such “amenities” as windows and doors, had become a popular hangout for drug addicts, according to HomeVestors Web site. The house had $275,000 in outstanding fines from the city and $25,000 in code violation fines that HomeVestors was able to have repealed to $375. Bought for $7,000, HomeVestors sold it for $18,375 to another investor, who has since sold the two-bedroom house for $30,000.

HomeVestors’ billboards read “We Buy Ugly Houses.” Clearly, “ugly” is the company’s thing: “We help people in ugly houses or people who find themselves in ugly situations like foreclosure, divorce or job loss that need to move,” says John Hayes, president and CEO of HomeVestors, which has 265 franchises in 35 states.

But the majority of the ugly homes in HomeVestors’ contest were small, decrepit and priced on the low-end. A home’s size and a hefty price tag doesn’t necessarily exempt it from being called ugly.

Consider the McMansion. The Oxford English Dictionary defines McMansion as “a modern house built on a large and imposing scale, but regarded as ostentatious and lacking architectural integrity,” as this Slateslideshow essay from last year points out. These Big Macs of architecture often are poorly designed, with no identifiable style, “like a badly mismatched outfit,” the article says.

As we wrote recently, the housing slowdown may signal the end for McMansions. Still there are plenty of these homes still around and we imagine that some folks will still find a way to build over-the-top houses.

Readers, care to share photos or recollections of ugly homes that you’ve seen? Email us at developmentsblog@wsj.com –Dana Mattioli