Don’t overlook the potential of the most run-down home. Instead, use your imagination to see how a grimy house shell can be a diamond in the rough. In the latest episode of hidden gemsa YouTube series for AD, Boston-based builder Nick Schiffer takes us inside an early 20th-century Pittsburgh property that was likely built for a family who worked at the local steel mill. Spanning 1,716 square feet over three levels, it features three bedrooms, one bathroom, and two additional lots, all at a bargain price of $20,000.
To say he needs a major home renovation is an understatement, but Schiffer believes in miracles. A new exterior with siding, windows, and an expanded, more inviting porch is the biggest upgrade, which could cost between $30,000 and $50,000. Schiffer also suggests stretching the porch to the side and building a small mud room that leads inside. The rear of the property has a gaping, unused area which offers the possibility of building a driveway and garage. With the debris littering the back of the house removed, you have a well-suited spot for a deck or patio.
Inside, Schiffer says that given the small space, creativity with the floor plan is limited. Insulating fragile walls to introduce climate control is a must. The restoration of the original moldings and fireplace in the living room, the construction of a small powder room and the opening of the dining room to connect it to the kitchen are all interesting improvements. Introducing arches, similar to those on the porch, is another way to bring all the elements in. Removing the double doors that lead to the spacious living room is another suggestion and would give the house a more airy feel.
Upstairs, Schiffer continues to preserve the character of the house by suggesting sanding the linoleum floors and recovering the woodwork of the staircase. Changing the layout of the rooms is another twist: a room can only be accessed by walking through the room that is in the hallway. Schiffer likes the idea of reconfiguring it by pushing back the wall of this last bedroom and creating an entrance for the room at the back. Currently, the home’s only bathroom is in the basement, but it’s a necessity on this upper level. Schiffer says it’s possible to build one in place of the empty closet.
Overall, the goal of home renovation is to make the house more cohesive. It’s a venture that would cost north of $100,000, a price that matches listing prices for similar properties in the area.
Watch the full episode to glean tips on how to completely transform a rundown house into a comfortable place to live.