1. Complete lack of blueprints or drawings, other than what is "up here in my head"2. No construction to code or using ordinary building techniques.3. No permitting, inspection, or other official authorization or inspection4. After years or even decades, the construction is never complete5. New projects are started before the old ones are finished.6. Building materials are often found objects, discarded items, or just junk, such as discarded windows and doors, pallet lumber, or other construction debris.7. The sufferer lacks the basic skills and tools to properly tackle such jobs.8. The sufferer often neglects basic maintenance in favor of wildly fantastic projects.
There are many ways this disorder manifests itself. Here are three examples I know of, that illustrate the problem:
Example #1: The Perpetual Cabana
In one example, a middle-aged man spends years building a cabana down by the lake. He constructs the first iteration from scrap lumber, found materials, and other items, including a broken-down travel trailer. The neighbors, alarmed, call the zoning office, but realize there is little they can do to stop the SOCD sufferer.Before the cabana is complete, he tears down most, but not all, of what he had built, leaving the debris in piles on his and his neighbor's properties. More angry complaints to the zoning authorities ensue, with little effect. A new cabana goes up in the place of the old. During the construction of this one, it morphs, like a child's Transformer toy, several times. Walls become roofs, then fences, then floors. Every week, it seems, a new wing is added and an old one demolished.Five years later, the cabana is still unfinished and the last work is being sawed down in favor of a new plan. At this stage, it is clear the "project" will never be completed. The builder will eventually die and all this efforts will be bulldozed in a matter of minutes.
Example #2, West Virginia Hideaway
We saw this property while looking at vacation homes in West Virginia. It was a sprawling house, on a lake, with porches, minarets, towers, balconies, staircases, and no fewer than 5 levels. It started as a small camp, and then the owner decided to "add on" a bit. He built a tower (very typical) and bedroom, which was almost to code, although awkwardly added. But then a succession of poorly thought-out additions were added, including some using dirt as a foundation. It was if it was built by a child, nailing together a tree-fort.There were no fewer than six different types of siding, seven window styles, and a hodge-podge of architectural styles from Bauhaus to prairie, to colonial to faerie castle. It was a nightmare!By the time we saw the property, it was boarded up and the owner had died. His widow was trying to sell it, but most of the decades of hard work was ready for the bulldozer and dumpster. It was little more than a lot at that point.
Example #3, The Fixer-Upper
The fixer upper likes to fix up his house. But he never does the jobs properly or completes them. His neighbors are throwing away a picture window, so chainsaw in hand, he decides to "install" it in his home. And install it he does, although without any header above it and with 3-4" gaps at each side. Cold air pours into the house, along with rain and insects. The roof starts to sag where the structural supports were chainsawed off to fit the window.But before he can finish this job, he has sawed another hole in the roof for a poorly-thought-out skylight. The deck railing is disassembled so he can build a new one - but it is never built. The list goes on and on. Demolition for several projects is begun, parts bought at Lowes or Home Depot, but construction never commences, or if it does, it is never completed. And the sufferer lacks both the proper tools and proper skills to complete the job.