Property:  500 S. Fairview Ave., Lansing

Owners:  Bobbie and Claudia Pelfery

Assessed:  $38,100

Owner says: Unable to be reached for comment

Some houses flake away quietly at the edges, tucked among better cared for neighbors, without drawing a second glance. Unfortunately, this dark, looming, two-story house commands a prominent corner lot, so its losing battle with entropy is on vivid display. The sagging roof has crumbled into fine fragments. Brown cedar shake shingles are detaching from the exterior, the window frames are rotting, and ice is prying the gutters away. A grand front porch, with a stately peaked roof, still shades a hibachi, a side table with an ashtray and plastic flowers, attesting to good times before you could look up through a hole in the porch roof at the sky. The attached garage in back is partially caved in and a tree is growing out of what’s left. A free-standing shed in the back yard looks too rotten to chop up and burn. Thick vines and animal burrows ring the house on all sides as nature tightens its slow stranglehold.

Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: A damaged roof can really detract from the attractiveness of a house. But it goes deeper than aesthetics. A new roof is one of the single most important improvements to any house. It is the first layer of protection from the elements. Neglecting to fix a roof is one of the quickest ways to destroy a house. A good sound roof is the best way to protect a house—particularly an unoccupied one. A short-term solution would be to repair the roof with matching asphalt shingles. A long-term, cost-effective and energy efficient-solution would be a new roof that is either metal or recycled rubber.