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The Real Transformers

As I passed the corner of Plymouth and Pennsylvania (over the weekend) I couldn’t help but notice two houses in the process of being rehabbed. Both houses, virtually across the street from one another, were thankfully in the process of shedding their asphalt shingles. I couldn’t wait to take a look to see what sort of shape the original wood was in. As I snapped a couple of photos, the owner of one of the houses was kind enough to point out the super wide boards that he found under the shingles. And also where the original window lines and details were hidden. He told me that the owners who had decided to put up the shingles actually did the house a favor (as far as the condition of the wood was concerned). Once the asphalt is removed and the wood is scraped, the house can be primed and painted without having to remove years of cruddy paint jobs found on similar mothballed houses. The process is easier than I ever imagined. And in many cases, the asphalt shingled houses are dirt cheap because they are so ugly.

Now that I’ve seen two examples of what asphalt shingles can do to preserve a house, I will definitely keep a lookout for similar ugly examples found around the city. Where normally a house like this might not be appealing to a potential buyer, I would suggest that he or she look at the cheap look of asphalt in a different way. Not only will the two houses have new leases on life, they will add to the neighborhood immensely. Take a look at them closely… if you passed by these same houses a year ago I bet you never would have paid any attention. Soon, both of these houses will be prime examples as to why there is such a renaissance taking place in historic neighborhoods all along the West Side. The housing stock is there and so are the opportunities. Now we just need more people to open their eyes and look past the same fixable aesthetic flaws that might have prevented them from making wise real estate investments in the past. 


Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

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