Don’t let the peeling paint and the labyrinthian floor plan deter you from this potential-filled charmer. Don’t overlook the potential of even the most rundown home. Instead use your imagination to see how a grimy shell-of-a-house can be a diamond in the rough.
In the latest episode of Hidden Gems, a 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 has three bedrooms, one bathroom, and comes with two additional lots—all at a bargain price of $20,000.
To say that it needs a major house renovation is something of an understatement, but Schiffer believes in miracles. A new exterior with siding, windows, and an expanded and more inviting porch is the most significant upgrade, one that 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 back of the property has a gaping and unused area that presents an opportunity to build a driveway and garage. With the debris littering the home’s rear 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 the flimsy walls to introduce climate control is a must. Restoring the original moldings and living room fireplace, building a small powder room, and opening up the dining room to connect it to the kitchen are all worthwhile upgrades. Introducing arches, similar to those on the porch, is another way to bring all the elements in. Doing away with the double doors that lead to the spacious living room is another suggestion and would give the house an airier feel.
Upstairs, Schiffer continues to preserve the home’s character by suggesting sanding the linoleum floors and salvaging the woodwork on the stairway. Changing the layout of the bedrooms is another twist: One bedroom is accessible only by walking through the bedroom that’s off the hallway. Schiffer likes the idea of reconfiguring it by moving the latter bedroom’s wall back and creating an entrance for the room at the rear. Currently, the home’s single bathroom is in the basement, but it’s a necessity on this upper level. Schiffer says that it’s possible to build one in lieu of the empty closet.
Overall, the house renovation objective is to make the home feel more cohesive. It’s an undertaking that would cost north of $100,000, a price point that’s in-line with the listing prices of similar properties in the area.
Watch the full episode to glean advice on how to completely transform a rundown house into a cozy place to live.