Another 31 Scary Houses Turned Into Spectacular Homes
From the archives of This Old House: more decaying, dilapidated, and demolish-worthy homes saved by dedicated DIYers
Whether abandoned, weather-torn, or just severely neglected, all of these ghastly houses looked left for dead. Until, that is, they came under the care of intrepid DIYers, who renovated each one into an incredible home. Here's a look at 31 dramatic makeovers that breathed new life into some of the most decrepit houses we've seen.
During Hurricane Katrina, this house in Waveland, Mississippi, was knocked off its foundation and into the driveway. Nick G. had already spent years working on the house prior to the hurricane, and he was determined to start over and rebuild his 1920s home.
Once Nick reset the house on its foundation and repaired the damage, he added two porches and two bathrooms. It took him more than ten years to finally complete the renovation that he began before Katrina. Nick says the "slow progress of rebuilding" was the hardest part of the remodel.
John S. had a fire in his home in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, which prompted a complete gut job and whole-house remodel. He kept the exterior walls and roof, but nothing else could be salvaged.
In an effort to preserve the look of the old home, John drove all over New England to find the perfect antique touches.
This before-and-after was so impressive that we featured it, and a few others from our Reader Remodel Contest, in our round-up of the Best Curb Appeal Before and Afters 2013.
Ann and Tom T. bought this foreclosure because they were looking for a beach house but couldn't afford a move-in-ready home. Even though they had to drive 140 miles from Raleigh, North Carolina, to start each renovation workday, they were eager to have a new cottage in Kure Beach.
The 1928 house needed new wiring, plumbing, drywall, siding, windows, and a roof, but it still has its original frame and quaint features. "The whole neighborhood was grateful to us for making the place a beautiful beach cottage," Ann says.
When Darrin and Sheri H. purchased this abandoned house in Palmer, Alaska, it was suffering from significant damage: The windows were broken, the basement and attic were covered with cat feces, and water had run through the roof, walls, and foundation.
Darrin and Sheri gutted the house and maintained as many of its original features as possible. They say that neighbors hardly recognize their house and continue to thank them for being brave enough to tackle the restoration.
This Texas bungalow was built in 1907 by Shannon S.'s great-great-grandfather, and some of her family members were even born in it. It had been vacant for 25 years before Shannon and her husband Bruce came across it, weeks before it was scheduled to be demolished. They found bales of hay inside and evidence of goats living there, but Shannon thought the house could be saved.
The homeowners removed the roof and cut the house in half in order to move the structure from its original lot to New Braunfels, Texas. Bruce, Shannon, and their four children lived in the house for a year with no running water, but the effort paid off and now they have a unique home.
This before-and-after was so impressive that we featured it, and a few others from our Reader Remodel Contest, in our roundup of the Best Whole House Before and Afters 2013.
This abandoned house in Greenfield, Tennessee, needed work from top to bottom. There was severe water damage throughout the house, and raccoons were living in it. Laralee B.'s goal for the remodel was "getting it to stand up before it fell down."
Laralee did not change the layout of the house, but she built new walls and replaced nearly everything inside. She was only able to salvage the stairwell, railing, fireplace and mantle. Now, she lives there comfortably—without the raccoons!
Alan S. and his wife bought this historic house in Thomson, Georgia, with the intention of saving it from collapse. It needed plumbing, heating, and electrical work, but the couple had a vision of restoring it to its mid-19th-century period look.
The homeowners put in new systems, as well as a new kitchen and two-story addition. The remodel ultimately took twenty years because they were only able to work on the house on weekends and during vacations. Even though it looks and feels like a mid-19th-century home, Alan says it is "wonderful to entertain in."
Michael S.'s family has owned this metal-roofed house in Chesterfield, Virginia, since it was built around the turn of the 19th century. Two one-room farmhouses were joined together to create one home in the late nineteenth century. After over thirty years of use as a rental property, the house had gotten extremely rundown.
When the chimney caught fire, Michael discovered that the house needed more work than he thought. Nevertheless, he chose to restore it rather than raze it. Michael salvaged and repurposed as many of the original materials as he could in order to preserve a significant piece of family history.
When Thomas H. first saw this house in Silver Bay, Minnesota, it had been empty for twenty years and was being used for storage. His wife was hesitant to consider buying the property, but it had a panoramic view of Lake Superior, and Thomas had a vision of transforming the structure into an idyllic cottage.
This renovation was a complete gut job; the couple needed to move walls and replace the front of the house entirely. The payoff for their hard work? They now have a view of Lake Superior from almost every room.
Colton W. and his wife bought this house in Ottawa, Kansas, to be their first home as a married couple. They were faced with fixing wood rot, removing several layers of decking and roofing, and reclaiming an unkempt yard.
The homeowners removed and replace the porch, siding, doors, and windows. After completing those tasks, they were able to add curb appeal and character with new landscaping.
Elaine B. purchased this property in Punta Gorda, Florida, because she had a vision of turning it into a cozy, country cottage. The two bedrooms were originally bunkhouses on a cattle ranch before they were moved in 1930 to their current location and connected by a kitchen and living space. When Elaine came across the house, it was in terrible shape from years of use as a rental property.
Elaine stripped exterior siding and gutted the house to reveal original pine boards, walls, and doors. She exposed the rafters in the living room and added vintage touches, such as a tin ceiling that she salvaged from a 1920s fishing shack. To create her desired cottage feel, Elaine recycled furnishings and materials from the side of the road, thrift shops, and Habitat for Humanity.
This house in Miami, Florida, had been abandoned for six years and was scheduled to be demolished when Sally H. bought it. In order for her to do any kind of work on the house, every step of construction needed to be inspected to meet hurricane safety requirements.
Sally completely redid the house, and put on an addition for extra space. She thinks the best part of the remodel is how appreciative neighbors are that she saved the house from demolition. "Almost every passerby will have something to say," she says.
Christopher G. found this forgotten house in Great Falls, Montana, and was determined to make it charming and functional again. The house was built in 1900, and he wanted to honor its history and do his part by improving it from top to bottom.
Christopher relied on his creativity and resourcefulness to complete this whole-house remodel. "The local high school was getting new bleachers for their gymnasium, so I was able to acquire enough Douglas fir bleacher tops to use for the floors in my house," he says. "All the trim in the house was milled from a deconstructed cabin in the Little Belt Mountains close by." He used reclaimed materials whenever possible, which added to the home's character.
When Gena M. and her husband bought this house in Ayden, North Carolina, they saved it from being torched by the fire department.
The renovation took five months to complete. But despite the added stress that the remodel put on their marriage, the homeowners love that they were able to turn this house into a new home.
In order to save this 120-year-old house from demolition, Jerri B. needed to move it to a new location. The crew removed the roof before trucking the house eight blocks to its destination in Crowley, Louisiana, and started the remodel with an empty shell.
The remodel for this place included every room of this house. The electric and plumbing needed to be replaced and the entire house needed to be insulated. The homeowners were able to restore many original features, including two light fixtures, the beadboard walls, and cypress siding.
Joe and Carole L. purchased this Folk Victorian 193-acre working farm in Roswell, Georgia, because they hoped to share their love of the outdoors with their children and grandchildren. "After finding broken window panes, a 70-year-old leaky tin roof, a squirrel skeleton hanging on the siding, a pack of feral cats, and a poisonous snake living in the wall, most would say the house was fit for demolition," Joe says. "To us, this balloon-framed house, whose heart pine floors and ceilings survived 100-plus years of history, was calling for help."
The 193-acre working farm was 155 miles from Joe and Carole's residence, which made it difficult to work efficiently on the remodel. They spent years on the project, constantly searching for salvaged materials. They added onto the existing house, and they now have enough space to have ten kids sleep in a bunkroom.
When Gary M. snuck into this "haunted" house in 1988 as a teenager, it had already been abandoned for years. Located in Hazlehurst, Georgia, the house was built in 1972 and never lived in. It was rotting, covered in graffiti, and abused by vandals and poachers, but Gary was drawn to the features that gave this house Southern charm.
Gary had the opportunity to buy the house in 2011 and transform it into the magnificent manor he had always envisioned. All of the wiring and plumbing had been stolen for copper, but he was able to restore many of the features he fell in love with as a boy. "The exterior windows came from an old 1870s Catholic school in New Orleans," he says, and "large pocket doors and molding are from a post office in Charleston."
This Second-Empire home in Cincinnati, Ohio, was built in 1856 by Supreme Court Justice John McLean. Robert G. and his wife are the seventh owners of the house, and they were excited to restore the historic home and maintain the integrity of its original design.
Robert and his wife lived in the house during the ten-year remodel. They prioritized preservation and paid a tremendous amount of attention to the home's details, despite making some changes to the layout. "We were able to keep all the exterior windows in the same place to maintain the historic look," Robert says.
Donny and Jessica B. wanted to buy this Marietta, Ohio, house to remodel it, while other bidders wanted to tear it down and start from scratch. Fortunately, Donny and Jessica won the bidding war and they proceeded to spend a year remodeling this house.
The homeowners spent all of their nights and weekends working on the remodel. "Our social life suffered a bit," Donny admits. They removed a few walls to create a contemporary, open layout, but they love that they were able to retain the home's 1800s character.
This house in downtown Williams, Arizona, was built in 1892 as a bunkhouse and office for a lumber mill. It had been empty for 12 years before Kerry-Lynn M. and her husband considered purchasing the property. The house was an eyesore: The windows were boarded, trees were overgrown, and part of it was rotting from water damage. The couple even needed a police escort just to view the house, since squatters often made a home inside.
Throughout the whole-house remodel, Kerry-Lynn found historical artifacts and had the support of the community to keep her spirits up. She says the restoration process was "very rewarding.
In the 1940s, Tim D.'s great-uncle built this house in Atlanta, Georgia. Thirty years later, it was moved to Cumming, Georgia, where his family owned land. No one had lived in the house until Tim and his wife, Karen, decided to move there.
Tim and his son did most of the remodeling themselves, which included everything from replacing electricity and plumbing to refinishing the original hardwood floors. The 70-year-old house needed a lot of work to make it a livable home, and Tim says the transformation has "truly been dramatic."
This 122-year-old Arts and Crafts home was nearly destroyed by the elements and condemned by the City of Muncie, Illinois, after being vacant for over 25 years. Lew B. bought the house as an opportunity to embark on an extensive preservation project.
Lew altered the 1890s floor plan by converting the home into three housing units. He needed to do significant structural work, particularly on the foundation and in the basement. He made sure to use classic colors on the exterior of the house because he wanted this project to contribute to the historic neighborhood.
Susan G. and her husband were looking for a vacation home in New Hampshire when they stumbled upon this house in Farmington. It had no curb appeal and was in shambles, but its proximity to the beach appealed to them.
The homeowners' wish list included a view of the beach and a deck to enjoy it from. Even though this house had both, the deck was rotting and the lawn had a hazardous dead tree near the road. Once they removed the tree, Susan was able to get the full wraparound deck she had dreamed of.
Caroline L. and her husband both work in real estate and showed this 1940s bungalow to their clients. Their buyers were not interested in the foreclosure, so they snapped it up instead. They knew it had potential, since it is located in a desired, historic neighborhood in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The homeowners maintained the original layout of the house but put on an addition for a new master suite. They also enclosed a rundown sun porch that was falling off the back of the house. To enhance its curb appeal, they replaced the siding and garage door, installed shutters, added a gable, and extended the driveway. Caroline and her husband were planning on flipping the house, but when the remodel was complete, they loved it so much that they decided to move in.
When Barbara W. and her sister Sandy found this crumbling foreclosure, they saw its remodel as a welcomed challenge. Every room of the house in Bland, Missouri, had problems with the ceiling, the floors, and the plaster walls.
Barbara and Sandy got many of their project ideas from touring historical homes. The sisters did all the work, with the help of their husbands, over the course of three years. They stripped and painted seventeen original windows, restored the hardwood floors, and made their own kitchen countertops. "Every room was an adventure," Sandy says.
Lori S. and her husband bought this 1923 house in Pittsville, Wisconsin, because they were looking for a home in the country where they could keep their horses. The old barn on this property was perfect for their family, so they decided to save both the house and the barn.
The homeowners opened up the foyer, dining room, and stairway to create a better-flowing floor plan on the first floor, and they were able to raise the ceiling to its original 9-foot height. They shopped at salvage yards, antique shops, and flea markets to find building materials and antique furnishings. The barn was also fully renovated to match the house and provide a comfortable space for their horses.
This 1880s Queen Anne Farmhouse in East Montpelier, Vermont, had been empty and neglected for several years before Joan P. purchased it. The foundation showed signs of damage, and the attached barn was in poor condition.
Luckily, Joan had a vision for the farmhouse. The attached barn was beyond repair, so it needed to be removed. She added supports to the porch and replaced its floor and ceiling. After replacing rotten clapboards, Joan used a stain on the exterior of the house instead of paint. She loves that the house is updated yet retains an "antique look."
Lee H. remodeled this 1905 log cabin for sentimental reasons—his grandparents and parents lived in the house, and it has been a special place for his family to retreat to. Lee decided to disassemble the cabin in Hysham, Montana, and rebuild it himself.
When Lee reconstructed the house, he made sure to preserve as many logs as he could. He also salvaged the original doors, floors, and bricks from the chimney. Lee added a loft to create more room for additional guests, and now he hosts his own family gatherings at the house.
David W. bought a rundown, 550-square-foot house in Asheville, North Carolina, knowing that a little work could go a long way in improving the home's appearance. Unfortunately, the house needed more than a little work: "I hadn't planned on all the structural fixes," he admits.
David removed asbestos siding, rotted studs, an interior wall, and part of the ceiling. He gutted rooms and changed the layout of the house, switching the location of the kitchen and bedroom. For curb appeal, David built two stone columns and added extra trim to the gables. He loves that the new dormer makes the house look bigger than it is.
Henry K. and his wife wanted to downsize from a larger home, and Henry was eager to dive into a renovation project in his retirement. This house in Greendell, New Jersey, needed to be gutted down to the studs and ended up being the project he was looking for.
Henry worked on the house every day for seven months to complete the work. Henry's wife and other family members all pitched in to take down multiple layers of wallpaper, paneling, and tongue-and-groove pine off the walls. The homeowners also discovered that there had been a fire in the laundry room, which led to additional unexpected work. They were able to restore the pine floors that they found underneath linoleum, and they are happy that this 90-year-old home has its original charm once again.
Terry M. grew up on the farm adjacent to this 1843 farmhouse in Harrisburg, Missouri. Before he purchased it, the house had been empty for seventeen years and was on the verge of being demolished.
Even though his family suggested he tear it down, Terry decided to restore it because the foundation and walls were in good shape. He built a three-room addition onto the back of the house, which is where he lived while the remodel of the original structure continued. He worked on the house every weekend for ten years, and it is now a local landmark.