A house becomes a home in many ways: the people in it, how you decorate it, and its location are all factors that can make it a place you want to spend time in. Of course, most people make their home in houses that are already built, that they found through a realtor. Some folks have the resources to plan their own home, while a select few have the energy to make their dream a reality with their own two hands. Not everyone can afford such a luxury, but some very creative individuals discovered that they could build their fantasy house on a budget. And when traditionally built houses didn’t seem to cut it, others turned to abandoned buildings in which to make their home. Here are 10 examples of the kinds structures that have been repurposed and turned into gorgeous houses.
1- School buses
Yes, those clunky and sometimes smelly buses can be given a second life after they’re done transporting children to and from school. These buses can be a great investment option for amateur home builders: they’re sturdy and solidly built, and if they’re still in working condition, can be transformed into a motorhome. Relative to other options, they are also inexpensive to buy. While the prospect of tearing out all those seats or living in a narrow space can be daunting to many homeowners, consider a few examples of renovated school buses (affectionately called “skoolies”) that are perfectly livable. A standard 72-seat school bus has about 200 square feet of floor space, and may cost about $3,000 to buy, with an additional $30,000 to renovate (if you want a fully-functional kitchen and bathroom). Of course, to create a comfortable home, it may take some careful planning and consulting, but the results are absolutely gorgeous!
Take advantage of an abandoned church’s layout: these structures can make great homes with the right materials. The beautiful stained glass windows filter light differently than the standard window, so you can create an ambiance unique to every room. There is a surprising amount of abandoned churches all around the United States, and many homeowners have seen the potential they have to become a home: though they may come a little pricey without the planned renovations, the result is sure to be breathtaking!
Another unlikely option in which to make your home is a barn. Like churches, barns offer an amazing opportunity to get creative with a large, mostly empty space. If you choose to purchase a barn to renovate, you also have the advantage of making a loft space, if you desire, or two separate stories. Barns tend to have a regular shape that may allow you to transform it into a multipurpose space. Basically, with such a structure, you’re working with a totally blank canvas!
4- Bomb shelters
For the more ambitious homeowners, you may have the opportunity to purchase a stand-alone bomb shelter. While “untouched” ones are decidedly harder to find, you may be lucky enough to find a totally renovated one on the market. Many of these large, solid structures have been transformed into luxury homes filled with upscale amenities, such as a pool or a games room.
How cool would it be to say that you live in an airplane? Well, some people thought about the idea and turned their dream into reality — without even needing a pilot’s license. While there’s a lot of square footage to work with (a Boeing 727 may have about 1,066 square-feet of interior space), living in a retired aircraft is no picnic: you’ll have to find an appropriate (and legal) place to put it. And like in several other of the structures on this list, you’d have to install the plumbing and electricity yourself. If you’re an ambitious homeowner who is willing to live in a long and relatively narrow space, has the resources to basically build your home from scratch, and wants a cool project to show off, this may be the kind of place for you!
Like school buses, airstreams can be a great way to live life on the road while investing in a beautiful vintage space to live in. The same types of renovations and installations may need to be made, or you can purchase a partially renovated one that you can customize. In such a space, you’ll likely learn how to downsize in a relatively extreme way — even if you plan on having more than just one or two people share the home.
7- School houses
We’re not just talking about small, one or two-room schoolhouses from the early 1900’s. We’re talking about multi-storied buildings that may prove to be tricky to renovate. The sheer amount of space may be a little overwhelming, but provides an excellent opportunity for ambitious homeowners to create their fantasy home while taking advantage of the large rooms, wide and tall windows, and, in most cases, existing plumbing and electricity. While efficiency may be a concern, you can help solve this problem by adding special features to your new house, such as solar panels. While the outside may not look like a house, the interior will almost certainly feel like home!
Perhaps the most popular structure that can be repurposed and transformed into a house is the humble shipping container. Shipping containers are not to be looked down upon: they are relatively cheap to acquire (the average cost is $2,000 per container), are made and structured in a way that’s excellent for building, and are considered to be environmentally friendly. Plus, using them to make your home is a great way to upcycle them. You don’t have to just live in one solid box: you can arrange them in a creative way and can add windows, insulation, and many other amenities that may make all your friends want a container home, too! Many container homes don’t give away what they’re made of, so your design can easily conceal that aspect, if desired.
Designing your dream home from scratch may seem like a daunting task, but with so many ways you can go about it, the sky’s your limit!
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A new generation of “foodies” are trading the golf courses of yesterday for sprouting agrihoods, investing in peak farm-to-table dining in a seemingly idyllic no-barriers community.
Agrihoods can be loosely defined as housing developments centered around a farm, with a focus on wellness, nature, and community. These new settlements are carefully planned and offer a way for like-minded people with common goals and needs to come together in one space. In this sense, they are not unlike the golf courses or country clubs that attracted a wealthier, older crowd just a few decades ago. However, agrihoods value a refined “return to nature” lifestyle, the kind of rustic charm you may find in a renovated farmhouse, but with the added bonuses of both functionality and purpose.
Agrihoods aren’t just a new trend in housing: they now make up a real estate boom in their own right. More and more people — specifically growing families, young couples, millennials, and self-proclaimed “foodies,” are actively looking to live a more sustainable, eco-conscious lifestyle. It seems to, at the very least, mitigate the effect of a number worsening issues plaguing younger generations: the struggle to find balance between work and leisure, increasing amounts of stress, loneliness, and a concern for the planet. They may consider agrihoods as investments in the future.
In fact, agrihoods across the country emphasize similar points when trying to attract people looking for a change of pace: community, farm-to-table dining, and open space. The farm, usually the centerpiece of every agrihood, is what sustains the community. The food is both grown and consumed by the residents, ensuring that the produce can’t get any more fresh, local, and organic. Usually, only a few hours separate the time between when it was picked and when it ended up on someone’s dinner plate. This healthier, more sustainable way to eat is what drives many to take the leap and move to an agrihood, but it goes hand-in-hand with the push to expose more people to the great outdoors. Because residents often tend to the farm themselves, they may also reap the health benefits of regular exercise, fresh air, and having a hobby (which may, of course, span both one’s mental health and physical wellbeing). And unlike typical neighborhoods, the houses in agrihoods are carefully planned to exclude barriers, high fences, or anything that may separate you from your neighbor. It can be assumed that the silent contract of living in an agrihood includes the agreement that you intend to be very familiar with your new neighbors. In short, you simply cannot avoid saying hello and chatting with the people around you.
Agrihoods aren’t meant to be a home for everyone, but they appeal to a large enough demographic that they’re increasing in popularity across the country. Those who thrive in agrihoods tend to be those who want to be part of an extremely close-knit community with like-minded people, eat hyperlocal produce, and live an eco-friendly lifestyle. Although, there’s a new group of people that may be taking advantage of the popularity of agrihoods and the increasing search for mental and physical wellbeing: those who want to take a minimum risk of loss when they decide to sell their house and leave the collective. The resale value of a house located in an agrihood generally does not decrease.
While many find living in such a place appealing in most aspects, it’s not necessarily accessible by the general population, or even desirable. In some communities, some of the houses’ worth goes well into the millions of dollars. For some outsiders, the idea of tilling the soil in the wintertime is enough to make them stay where they are. The very idea of agrihoods offers a glamorous, picturesque, and bucolic image of the kind of lifestyle we should all hypothetically be adopting, and while this trend is most certainly on the upswing, we’ll have to wait and see if it’s just that — a trend.
Getting sucked into a fictional world is part of the experience of watching a television show. Over the course of many weeks, as you’re pulled deeper and deeper into a fantasy land, you start imagining that your life really could be like that of the characters in your favorite TV shows. Then, as you start mapping out how many best friends you’ll have by the time you’re 30 and the exact path your career will take, you start asking questions. Somehow, your favorite characters never go to work or school and blow all their money on pricey shoes (à la Carrie Bradshaw) or food and booze.
But the most maddening part? How little they’re paying for their homes. If you’re dreaming about living in your favorite fictional TV home, here’s how much you’d be shelling out, according to realtors.
Address: 90 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014
Estimated real cost: $2.5 million, or $4,500 per month
Fictional cost: $200/month
Thousands of the show’s fans wanted to live in Monica Geller’s swanky pad. The highly-recognized apartment is probably one of the most infuriating examples of the unrealistic expectations television set for an entire generation: according to People Magazine, the two-bedroom unit in New York’s swanky West Village neighborhood would go for an estimated $4,500 a month. However, Monica somehow inherited the rent controlled unit from her grandmother, and continued paying a measly $200 in rent throughout the series.
According to Thrillist, Walter White’s home is valued at just over $174,000, but the price has been estimated to be as high as $200,000. The Albuquerque, New Mexico residence is very real, and its current residents, Fran and Louie Padilla, have owned the home for more than 40 years. When the hit AMC series ended in 2013, the couple often found their property inundated with fans. The occasional pizza has even been discovered on their roof. However, they insist that only the exterior of the house and the pool are real — Fran has described the interior of the home, as seen in the series, as “hideous.” Despite all the trouble they’ve had in recent years, they refuse to sell the house, which would now likely be worth millions. In the show, given his past jobs, Walter White would have likely been able to afford his humble abode.
The Dunphy family of TV’s Modern Family live in a beautiful 4-bedroom 2-story home located in the upscale Cheviot Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, which is reportedly worth over $2 million. In the show, Phil and Claire Dunphy live there with their three children. Phil is a real estate agent, and Claire is a stay-at-home mother who was once a successful account manager in hospitality management. It’s not unbelievable that the family of five could have afforded a house in such an affluent area, but many still consider it to be a stretch. The house is also very real: it was sold for $2.5 million in May 2014.
Carrie Bradshaw set the bar for thousands of women already living in, or aspiring to live in the Big Apple. This single woman had it all: a thriving career, a fabulous shoe collection, and the perfect apartment. Fans of the show may recall that Carrie paid about $750 a month in rent before her building, in a prime location on the Upper East Side, went co-op. The apartment exists in real life — but the show stretched the truth so far that many ended up chasing an impossible dream. The well-known exterior is actually the facade of 66 Perry Street in Manhattan’s West Village. That townhouse was sold by luxury property agent Kane Manera for a whopping $13.25 million. The interior was filmed just next door, inside 64 Perry Street. The relatively large studio could have gone for exponentially less than its neighbor, but would have still cost Carrie a pretty penny: though it had to be totally renovated, it was valued at about $600,000, or around $2,800 a month in rent. On her freelance writer’s salary and with her ever-growing and extensive collection of designer duds, there’s no way Carrie would have been able to afford her apartment, regardless of location!
The Brady Bunch
Address: 11222 Dilling Street North Hollywood, California
Estimated real cost: $1,478,474
The lovable blended TV family of eight (plus their maid, Alice) lived in a five-bedroom, two-bathroom house in the Los Angeles suburbs. The actual house they lived in on the show is very real, and according to Thrillist, its current owners purchased the home in 1973 for just $61,000. However, today, the house is estimated to be worth almost $1.5 million. Given Mr. Brady’s occupation as an architect, it’s quite possible that he would have been able to afford the home at the time — even given the number of occupants!
Will & Grace
Address: 155 Riverside Drive
Estimated real cost: $700,000 to $1.75M
The sitcom’s fictional apartment is located on a beautiful block on the Upper West Side, and the address alone is enough for realtors to estimate that the home would have cost Will and Grace, its residents for most of the show, just over the average estimated amount for a two-bedroom, two-bath space: $5,940. The lawyer and the interior designer could probably afford their rent, but this appears to be another case in which TV executives believed that viewers wouldn’t question the characters’ financial situation.
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Address: 251 North Bristol Avenue Los Angeles, California
Estimated real cost: $8,907,054
Luckily, fans of the show can see the exterior of the Banks’ family’s mansion in real life, but they won’t find it in the Bel Air area. Instead, they can can see it while driving down North Bristol Avenue in Los Angeles’s Brentwood neighborhood. The different zip code barely makes the home any less valuable: it’s estimated that the house could close for $9 million on the market. The family’s ability to afford their estate is one of the more believable scenarios depicted on television: Philip Banks had a career in law, and his wife, Vivian had a PhD.
Nowadays, television executives are, for the most part, dedicated to making their characters’ living situations a little more believable and relatable. There is a rawness and truthfulness behind their experiences. This is especially true for Broad City. The Comedy Central show knows how to hit the nail on the head, so to speak: Abbi’s apartment in Astoria, Queens isn’t anywhere near as swanky as the digs on Sex and the City or Friends — and she shares it with a roommate. According to Trulia and Time, it would rent for around $2,300 a month in real life, which, split between two people, seems feasible. Abbi, who dreams of becoming a full-time artist, actually works as a custodian at an upscale boutique fitness center — and assuming that she makes more than New York state’s minimum wage, she would likely be able to afford her half of the rent.
Address: 129 West 81st Street, Apartment
Estimated real cost: $2,600 per month or $900,000
Time pegs the rent for Jerry Seinfeld’s Upper West Side apartment at $2,600 a month. In the show, Jerry is already a successful comedian, so it’s likely that he would have been able to afford the one-bedroom unit. Unfortunately, the building isn’t real, but its address was inspired by Jerry’s own experience: he himself used to live on 81st street. According to Thrillist, the address used on the show is also real: it’s a pre-war walk-up with a common laundry room, located just off of Columbus Avenue, which would explain the cost of living there.