WELLFLEET — The controversial Blasch house at 1440 Chequessett Neck Road is on the market. Mark and Barbara Blasch, who built it in 2010, are asking $5.5 million for the 5,817-square-foot house at “the Gut” in the Cape Cod National Seashore.
The house’s foundation now sits less than 14 feet from the edge of an eroding coastal bank overlooking Cape Cod Bay. The escarpment is currently eroding at a rate of 6 to 7 feet per year.
The listing agent is Robert Kinlin, co-owner of Robert Paul Properties, a Boston-based agency that was acquired in the last year by the Commonwealth Realty Group.
On the Robert Paul website, the Blasch house is described as possessing “intelligent living spaces” and “extraordinary design.” In 2019, the house was 25 feet from the edge. The distance is now about half that. The Blasches were warned about the likelihood of catastrophic erosion at the site when they originally sought construction permits, which were vigorously opposed by the National Park Service.
After the house was built, Wellfleet amended its zoning bylaw to limit the size of houses in the National Seashore Park District.
The online listing for the Blasch house also boasts of its “quality craftsmanship,” including the “strategically placed helical piles” upon which the rear of the house rests. These are essentially industrial-size bundles of sticks planted deep in the sand to support the concrete foundation and wood frame of the house. According to a report submitted by structural engineers to the Wellfleet Conservation Commission, if one of those piles were to fail because of erosion, it could potentially create a domino effect, causing the whole house to collapse.
The Blasches are seeking permission to build a 271-foot rock revetment to protect the house from collapse. Their request was denied by the conservation commission, and that denial is now being challenged in court by the owners of the house.
In the meantime, the Blasches have dumped thousands of yards of “sacrificial sand” on the bank annually since 2013 to counter the effects of erosion.
According to the online listing, the house does have “maple herringbone flooring” in the bedroom, “birch shiplap walls and ceilings,” a “three-floor elevator,” and one “palatial bathroom.”
A source who spoke with Robert Kinlin about the Blasch house told the Independent this week that the broker would make “no representations or warranties” regarding the eroding coastal bank or the expected lifespan of the structure. Kinlin said he was advising prospective buyers to do “due diligence” regarding the erosion by talking to Seth Wilkinson, the CEO of Wilkinson Environmental in Orleans.
Wilkinson is one of the companies that the Blasches have hired to dump sand and install biodegradable cylindrical envelopes full of sand to shore up the coastline at their property.
Kinlin and Wilkinson did not respond to messages seeking comment before this week’s deadline.
In an interview, Kathleen Nagle, a Wellfleet-based real estate agent, said that an agent’s “first fiduciary duty is honesty, and part of that honesty is disclosure.” Disclosure, in this case, means telling buyers about any imminent problems associated with the house, she said. “It’s pretty simple. We have a duty to be upfront.”
According to the Independent’s source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Kinlin said there was a lot of interest from possible buyers, and that he had shown the property to six people since the house went on the market last week. At only seven figures, it is on the cheaper end of the “luxury homes” that Robert Paul Properties represents. The company’s website has a video tour of the house with a classical music soundtrack. The video includes drone shots showing the house’s deck, with a hot tub, which appears to be less than a foot away from the edge of the bank.
“Most people are not happy about how this whole situation has gone over there for so many years now,” said Nagle. “The Blasches hired a realtor who is not from the town of Wellfleet, which I thought was interesting,” she added. “I’m happy I wasn’t called to be a listing agent on it.”