The house next door to ours is a bit of a mystery.

We bought this house in September 2004. There was a house there and occupied to one side. We met the people who lived there. On the other side of our house was an empty lot. I think there was maybe a slab but that’s it. We were told that there would soon be a house going in and sure enough construction began fairly quickly. I literally went to work one day and there was nothing but a slab, came home and the frame of the first floor was up. The next day when I came home the frame of the second floor was up. Within a week the house looked roughly 75% finished.

The house is pretty big, easily bigger than the one we bought. It has a rather large downstairs living room with second floor ceilings, hardwood floors, and a postage stamp-sized back yard. It’s for those who want more house and cooling/heating bills than yard.

At some point after the bricks, windows, etc. went in the “FOR SALE” sign went up. Stayed up for months. Then it was replaced by a “SOLD” sign. This lasted about a month, then was re-replaced by a “FOR SALE” sign. Then after some time the “SOLD” sign went back up. Stayed there for months, so maybe it “stuck” this time. Then the “SOLD” sign came down. Has stayed down ever since.

The odd part though is that no one is living in the house yet. No one’s ever moved in, the front porch light just stays on, and the sprinklers ran several times per day.

When one of these houses goes up the builder puts new sod in the yard, trees, etc. This requires a bit more water than the average so that the grass can “take” (or so I’m told). Centex, the builder, takes this into account when they set the sprinklers. Problem is, no one ever moved into this house so no one ever went in there and turned that off. So the sprinklers went off several times a day (my Wife swears it was like maybe twice, I say six times a day). Every single time I went to mow the lawn, no matter when, I got hosed.

This past summer Frisco went through a water shortage condition. There were literally signs all over the place telling you when you could water based off of the even or oddness of your home number. Once I had screwed up and not watered the lawn in two weeks and didn’t want to wait the 3-4 days to water again so I took the risk of watering on an off day (apparently you can’t program our sprinkler system to all go off at the same time so it took a couple of hours). I was hoping the water police wouldn’t drive by and bust me (fines for this were reportedly $2000 or more). I didn’t run into any issues, but my ghost neighbors still watered some six times per day.

Centex will take care of bills and maintenance of the property up to a point. When we moved into this house we transferred everything more or less immediately. It became obvious when Centex ceased keeping up the property next door, as the lawn started to take on a jungle-like appearance. The upshot of that was that it made it a lot less obvious when I was slacking on the job of mowing our lawn. One day a professional lawn service came over to mow the lawn, so presumably the owners of the house were mildly cognisant of how their lawn looked. Just as the riding lawn mower guy got started the sprinklers went off again. No worry, he just motored over to where the pipe shutoff valve near the road was and turned it off.

Finally, as we started to see the onset of fall this year, I decided to call the city and report my nonexistent neighbors on their water usage. By this point they were nearly flooding their yard and it was starting to affect ours. Plus at some point the weather was going to turn freezing and it’s extra illegal to have your sprinklers on, lest they put ice on the streets. The woman at the city offices said she’d call me back. She called me later that day and said that they had just recieved a call from the owners, who were in California apparently and were puzzled by their $400 water bill. They were sending over a brother-in-law to shut off the sprinklers. Within a couple of days the sprinklers ran no more.

So that takes care of the sprinkler issue – what about the fact that the house is still unoccupied? It’s been sold for probably close to six months now and no one’s ever lived in it.

It could be that someone bought it in order to rent or lease it out. But if that’s the case it’s really odd that a sign to that effect has never been put out front. I would imagine even if you wanted to remain low key about it you’d put a sign out front. Tackiness be damned, an empty rent house doesn’t do you any good. Still, I guess it’s possible they’re just advertising through newspapers or something, but wouldn’t someone have been by to see it by now?

The only other theory I can come up with is that someone bought this house in anticipation of a transfer to the Metroplex, and the transfer hasn’t gone through yet. By that logic, it’s possible the transfer will go through around New Year’s and so come 2006 we’ll finally see someone.

In the meantime it’s just sorta weird and creepy to have this huge house next to us that no one lives in.