Vinyl Village preview: Sides and backs of houses

Because of the ways the houses in this vinyl village are arranged, you see a lot of the backs and sides of them. A private back yard is hard to come by here! I suppose seeing the sides and backs of these houses wouldn’t be so bad if the builders had invested in making them look good. They didn’t. They’re large swaths of vinyl interrupted occasionally by a random window.

Photographs like these are in my new book, Vinyl Village, which takes a look at this neighborhood as typical of the American suburban subdivision. It looks behind the beauty as well. I’ll share some preview photos of the not-so-beautiful parts of this neighborhood over the next few days.

Meanwhile, click here to learn more and to get your copy of Vinyl Village.

Lonely little window
Acres of vinyl
In the vinyl village
Back of my house

My photo essay book, Vinyl Village, is available!
Click here to learn more and get a copy!


7 thoughts on “Vinyl Village preview: Sides and backs of houses

  1. Andy Umbo says:

    Interesting to note, I worked with someone who grew up in a place like this, and she was happy to buy into another area like this in her 30’s with her husband and new baby. She was part of the people that originally contracted to have the house built in the new subdivision, and she told me that you actually paid per window, so you wanted the most windows in the front, and very few facing the neighbors on the sides. If you’re working with a contractor at the time of construction, you can have as many windows as you’re willing to pay for! That’s why it looks weird…

    Another point of weirdness for me, is that over the years, I’ve had a few people tell me that they were “building a house”. Since I know a few pretty good architects (unfortunately one passed away), I’d always ask them if they had an architect yet, hoping to drum up business for my friends. What would come out then, would be the idea that they weren’t “building a house”, they were contracting directly with a builder for one of three or four tract home designs in a subdivision where they got to pick the windows and interior treatments, and the kitchen cabinets and counter tops. Had to laugh, they always made it seem like they were contracting with Frank Lloyd Wright or Richard Neutra to throw a little something together for them!

    My architect buddies used to tell me that many of these “contractor designed” houses also look funny because the CAD systems allow people to up or down size features to alter the delivered price. Maybe they start out looking OK, but then to save money, you can shrink the dormer sizes, front portico, reduce the number of windows, etc. until the estimate reaches the buyers needs. You can end up with a house where the adjacent sizing of architectural features are weird looking and make no design sense! Another reason to stay away from these types of subdivisions!

    • Even if whoever built our house had ordered more windows, they would have been placed seemingly randomly on the outside. These houses are built from the inside out, optimizing for the interior layout. The 4th photo above is actually our house. That window way up in the upper right looks strangely placed from the outside, but that’s one of the bedrooms and it makes all kinds of sense when you’re standing in that room.

      My last house was built in 1969 and had windows all around, attractively placed both inside and out.

      • Andy Umbo says:

        I’m willing to bet that your house from 1969, altho possibly in what at that time would have been a new subdivision, probably had an actual architect involved that drew the designs “on the board”, and had training in many areas of the arts, including drawing and spatial displacement. My architect pals used to tell me that there was a sort of “rift” in the modern business that those who weren’t classically trained, and could not actually draw, were not considered of value in the premier firms.

        …what’s even worse about many of these “siding heavy” houses, is that many times, after a few years, the siding starts to migrate, and these huge houses with no windows will have siding starting to go “wavy”. I’ve actually even seen some in the far western suburbs here that are doing it, after only a few years! I live in a neighborhood that was built in the 1920′, pre depression, and is mostly brick, but some clapboard. I wonder what these places are going to look like in 100 years!

  2. tbm3fan says:

    When I lived back east I remember standing in the backyard and I could look up and down the block in the back. Houses had either no fence or a chain link fence. Then I moved to the San Fernando Valley and the houses had 6′ tall block walls around the sides and back. In Northern California most have wood fences if not on large property or out in a more rural area. I like fences. I like privacy in my backyard.

    In San Francisco most have a backyard fence out in the various districts. However since most houses are on the sidewalk, side by side, and narrow, they tend to be two maybe three stories which means everyone can look down on you. When I lived there I was in one of those abodes and never spent time in the backyard nor did I see others do the same. I did see lots and lots of junk in those yards though when I went to the window.

    Oh, and to me vinyl siding screams CHEAP. My house here is all brick in the front with stucco for sides and back.

  3. Hi Jim,

    We have few choices beyond the biege windowless townhomes and mega-mansions boxes that seem to be going up everywhere in New Jersey.

    I didn’t grow up in homes like these. These ugly biege and mostly windowless boxes are the anti-thesis of the colourful multi-windowed homes that were normal in the West Indies when i was a child.

    Even though I would prefer a digital version (I do all of my reading on an iPad), I bought the book anyway. Just because. I’m sure I’ll have fun comparing your view of Indiana to my view from New Jersey.

    • Well, thanks for buying my book. I considered doing a Kindle version but I’m not impressed with how photos render on monochrome Kindles. I considered doing a .pdf version but I’d have to set up a distribution channel for that. Time is limited, unfortunately.

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