Canadian Contractor

Alec Caldwell   

Nice or ugly, ‘monster homes’ in mature neighborhoods attract attention

Canadian Contractor

Building the biggest house on the street can stir emotions and attract inspectors

‘Monster homes’ are not a new phenomenon, but as real estate prices soar in many urban areas, they continue to be popular.  Built to maximum lot size and squeezed between smaller mature homes, they stick out like sore thumbs like the ‘monster’ shown in the accompanying photograph.

Hidden in plain view for all to see!

Hidden in plain view for all to see!

Monster homes also change the look of the neighborhoods and can anger people living around them. In fact, when I was observing this particular project, one neighbor shouted at me ‘Ugly!’  At first confused that he meant me as I sat inside my vehicle (window down), I then realized he was referring to this new build. It was across the street from the modest home where he’d lived for the past 40 years.

Some builders are choosy about what they build, realising their reputation and name are tagged to it. For others, it’s about finding work, doing the job, and earning a living.  No fault can be found with this.

However, what I was looking at that morning was a builder who was not concerned about reputation or about the neighborhood; it was all about building the biggest structure for maximum profit.

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The neighbor who had approached me said that the local building department had no issues with the project and the building was up to code. However, I took this comment as a barometer, measuring the pressures already put on the project.

If you’re involved in new builds or in home renovations, work smart; don’t attract unwanted attention to your site, like neighbors calling the Ministry of Labour about you.

Unfortunately in this case, the builder had allowed his workers’ vehicles to be parked all over the place. The crew was hanging around in a group on the roadway fooling around. There was mud everywhere.

Had I been a Ministry of Labour (MoL) inspector observing this, this wouldn’t have bothered me particularly. I would have noted, however, that most of the workers were not wearing hard hats. The scaffolding had open edges everywhere while workers were on it, and there were no access ladders. A balcony on the third floor had no guardrail and a worker was within 2 feet of the edge, not wearing fall equipment. Violations like these bring fines, but more importantly, they can easily cause site closure.

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