TAKOMA PARK, MD – Longtime resident Constance Komplaner took to her local listserv to express her disapproval of the many new “cookie-cutter” homes being built near her neighborhood, which is comprised of historic mail-order Sears catalog bungalows.
“It’s sad that we’re ignoring our past,” said Komplaner. “When did we decide as a society that mass-produced housing built by large corporations was acceptable?”
Sears, Roebuck and Co., who came up with the idea as a way to help America’s middle class realize their dream of homeownership, sold over 70,000 kit homes from 1908 to 1940. “Neighborhoods used to have variety and character, which reflected American freedom and individuality,” said Komplaner, whose bungalow came with the choice of three different siding colors. “Now all they reflect are higher building code standards, increased energy efficiency and professional construction services. Gross.”
Komplaner maintains the superiority of her bungalow home on more than subjective aesthetic grounds. She claims today’s homes are built too quickly, with lower quality materials, and cost too much relative to her home’s original price.
“My house was assembled from a kit over the course of six months by a factory worker and his son in their free time, using lumber from old growth forests and steel from plants where the company owner just shot anyone who agitated for humane working conditions,” said Komplaner. “How is your new Pulte house going to compete with that?”
Komplaner is attempting to organize other bungalow owners into a non-profit to oppose further new housing developments in the area, but the effort has been hampered by her inability to host more than five people in her tiny living room during the summer months with no central air conditioning or external wall insulation.