Paul Silva

Paul Silva

There is a little less sun in my front yard and backyard these days, and I have made my peace with the new shade.

It’s actually a shadow, projected by an extensive remodeling of the house next door. The new owners added a second floor, as well as more square footage to the first floor.

We have lived in our house for 19 years. About 10 years ago, we added a bedroom and bathroom in the backyard, keeping the home to a single story.

The house next door was owned by an older couple who had lived on our street for decades. Last year, the husband died and his wife decided to sell the house and move across the country to be near their daughter.

Like a lot of older homes, the house was tidy but a little worn. It could have used a paint job and some other cosmetic fixes, but when the for sale sign went up without any improvements, I knew what was coming: an as-is sale, most likely to a developer.

A short time after the house sold, the new owner—a young guy, late 30s—was outside with his contractor when I introduced myself. He was very nice. He explained he flipped houses, and this was his latest project. He said there was a possibility he and his wife and kids might live in the house once it was remodeled, but also a good possibility they would re-sell as soon as it was done.

That was many months ago and since then the new house has kept rising. Thanks to the pandemic, my wife and I have been home to hear all the sawing, hammering and general banging. I have had no complaints. It’s actually kind of comforting to see someone investing in the future during such an unstable time.

Correction: I have one complaint. When the truck comes to clean out the portable toilet, the street stinks to high heaven. But even in that stench I have found some solace in being thankful that someone else has that job.

OK, if I am being honest, I have a second complaint: When the new house is done, I won’t be able to go out in my backyard in my underwear anymore. Prior to the addition of the second floor on that remodeled house, none of the four houses that adjoin my property had a view into our backyard, unless the neighbors peeked over the fence.

Why do I need to go out in my backyard in my underwear? I don’t need to, but I like having the option. The dog is barking at something in the middle of the night. Am I really going to put on pants for that? I realize I left the hose on. Again, another job that requires no outerwear. 

And do I sometime stand in my backyard in my underwear just to check the weather? I do. It’s a really good way to tell whether you should put on long pants or shorts.

But when the new house is finished and the new neighbors move in, my backyard privacy will be gone. If I can time it right, I may just spend that whole last day lounging in the backyard in my underwear.  The end of such an era deserves a fitting tribute.

Thanks to the positioning of the new second story, our backyard has not lost much sun. More of our front yard, however, will be darker earlier in the day, and our dining room will be getting less sun through the windows. 

I don’t like that sunlight reduction, but my wife says overall it’s an improvement because prior to the remodel, the view out our dining room window featured the old house’s dented metal hot water heater cabinet, its paint peeling in that aforementioned sunlight.

When the house next door went up for sale, I knew that it was a long shot that anyone would buy the little house and spruce it up but still keep it of modest size. I had hoped someone might just add a little square footage to the single-story footprint, like we did, but the economics of local real estate pretty much demand that run-down cottages be replaced by shiny new behemoths. 

Ironically, the new house casting shade on our little house will probably make our home’s value go up. I guess that’s a good thing, but it doesn’t mean much to us. We plan on living the rest of our lives in this house, which is one of the main reasons—besides expense—that we kept it to one story.

Our properly values go up, but that only matters if you are planning to sell someday, and we are not. If everything goes as planned, I will die in the bedroom I now sleep in. My property’s value to me is greater than any realtor might assign.

Our house is three bedrooms, two bathrooms, so plenty of room for just the two of us now that the kids are gone. I have marveled at acquaintances of ours who expanded their homes after their children moved out. Even with the occasional visit from the grandkids, how much space do two people really need?

Speaking of kids, I hope that whomever ends up living in the new house has children, the more and younger the better. Our street is bereft of the joyous noise of childhood. 

I am more than willing to trade a little sunlight for the brightness and glee of young voices. Now that would truly make my property value go up.

Contact Lisa Jacobs or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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