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Q&A: How to block view of trashy house across the street?

I wondered about this fence, but now I understand: It blocks views from the front, but allows views from the side.Question: I need some ideas to help block the view across the street from us.

When we bought our house 15 years ago the view across the street was of tall, beautiful flowering shrubs. We never saw the house behind the shrubs, which were about 15 feet high and 40 feet wide.

Recently, the owner decided to turn the house into a rental and cut down the shrubs. Now we see what was behind there: a really ugly, trashy house with sheets on the windows, overgrown lawn, etc. All the others houses on the street really nicely kept up.

We tried to buy it, but he won’t sell. Any ideas on blocking the view? If we plant something it will have to be really tall as our house sits up about two feet and I’m afraid it will look strange as no one else has front yard hedges. Plus, we only have about 15 feet from the porch to right of way.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Here’s one idea, based on a fence (pictured above) I saw just yesterday on my walk. It’s got panels staggered so that it blocks the view from the front, but allows views from the side. What if you did something like this with panels of trellis and vines?

This also brings to mind Stefan Hammerschmidt’s house in Venice. He did a great remodel on his vintage cottage, preserving the house while adding a second floor. And then he found out the house across the street was in danger of being torn down and replaced by a McMansion. So, he bought that house and turned it into a rental.

Of course, buying the house across the street is a radical solution. But perhaps you could make that offer a few more times to the owner calmly and persistently, and maybe eventually he will give in.

Any other solutions for Kay?

1 Comment on Q&A: How to block view of trashy house across the street?

  1. Mike Johnson // April 2, 2008 at 12:45 am // Reply

    Your local building code may limit the height of any fence, wall, or shrubbery along the front of your property. In some places, you can wall yourself in. Other places you may be limited to three feet or so. Why, it’s possible the owner across the street was ordered to cut the shrubs back.
    You may be able to use local codes to put some pressure on the owner — if the yard is full of dried weeds, for example, it could be a fire hazard.
    I can sympathize because whenever I look out my kitchen window, I look right at the the worst house on the block. It’s a rental, and the owner is out of state, and hasn’t spend a dime on repairs or maintenance in ten years.
    We’ve been saving our pennies and waiting for the market to bottom out so we can make an offer on that house. We came close to making an unsolicited offer back in 2006 but I knew prices would be coming down. I’d be willing to buy that house and rent it out without it providing a strong positive cash flow just because it aggravates me so.

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