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WTF: What's With the Free House on the Barre-Montpelier Road? 

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: We just had to ask...

click to enlarge wtf-house.jpg

How hard can it be to give away a house? In this economy, you’d think a free home would be snatched up in seconds. But when it comes with a sign that reads, “FREE HOUSE! You move it!” things start to get a bit complicated.

Located on Route 302 in Barre — the exact address is 781 North Main Street — the modest little pastel-green house looks sadly out of place sandwiched between Packard Street and the self-service Rub-A-Dub Car Wash. According to nearby business owners, the house has sported its “FREE” sign for nearly a year.

After some sleuthing, we discovered that the owner of the house is Richard Bashara, who lives one house up on Packard Street and owns the car wash.

“I’m interested in the land, not the house,” explains Bashara, 49, who co-owns the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Montpelier with his family and runs other local businesses. “I bought the property from the bank in a foreclosure,” he says, and notes that removing the house would enable him to expand his own yard.

“The house will need a lot of work,” Bashara continues. “The outside is fine, but the inside is unlivable, which is why we don’t rent it. It’s a unique fixer-upper. I thought, rather than tearing it down, maybe somebody, or even a charity, could use it, and they could take the time to fix it on their own.”

According to Vermont real estate websites, the commercial value of the 2280-square-foot house is $61,200.

“I’ve had many calls from people interested in stripping the house for its resources, but I don’t want to do that,” Bashara says.

The biggest problem with a free house that needs to be moved is, well, moving it. The process is not cheap. One couple was interested in moving the house, Bashara says, but the estimated cost was almost $30,000, far more than they were prepared to invest.

The price of transporting a house is based on various factors. According to Norman Messier of the family-owned Messier House Moving & Construction in Barre, the biggest is the distance the house would have to travel. Other variables include the house’s dimensions, particularly its width compared with the width of the road, and the time of day when a move is feasible. Traffic would obviously add to the difficulty and therefore to the price. Considering that Bashara’s free house sits very close to a busy main road, timing a move would be tricky.

Still, Messier is convinced that the job could be done. “If a building is standing, it can be successfully moved,” he says.

“It’s an expensive project,” says Bashara, “even though they’re getting a free building.”

If no one wants the house, he’s prepared to take care of it himself. “I’ve looked into doing a controlled burn and tearing it down myself,” Bashara says, and suggests his deadline might be the end of this month.

But he isn’t giving up hope that someone will turn up who wants to make use of the building. If you’re handy with renovating, have 30 grand available and are up for the adventure of moving a house, Bashara would love to hear from you.

Outraged, or merely curious, about something? Send your burning question to wtf@sevendaysvt.com.

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Ginger Vieira

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