Jan. 5 2011 12:00 AM

1112 Bensch St., Lansing


Property: 1112 Bensch St., Lansing

Owner: David and Ellen Ayres

Assessed value: $22,700

Owner says: “We can’t pay the taxes.”

Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: This two-story Lansing home is clad in a classic early 20th century exterior siding that, at one time, was quite handsome but has experienced some neglect. Let’s be clear: There is no such thing as a maintenance-free exterior finish. Wood, vinyl, brick, masonite and the most recently inspired cement board all require some level of upkeep (some more than others). The simple act of replacing deteriorated portions is essential, as everyday wear and tear can break them down. Exterior finishes are not only functional, but can be a very beautiful element of a home. Wisely choose exterior finishes for both quality and timeless character. Exterior finish matters — period.

Neighbor Phillip McComber has been maintaining the yard and clearing trees at 1112 Bensch St. for the past couple of years, but said it’s been painful to see the house deteriorate in that time. The house, which has new-looking roof shingles, is battered with peeling paint, a rotting front plywood porch and boarded doors. A glimpse through the front window shows a living room covered in trash.

Owner Ellen Ayres said there are no plans for further work on the house because she can’t keep up on the taxes for it. She is waiting for the city to take possession of it.

— Andy Balaskovitz