What Would It Take to Transform a Dilapidated 1910 Pittsburgh Home Into a Dream Retreat? | Architectural Digest


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See how gutting a one-bedroom, one-bathroom, fixer-upper is a savvy investment. 

Don’t judge a house by its shoddy interior. At least, not if you have the foresight to envision the hidden appeal of an empty space. In the latest episode of Hidden Gems, a YouTube series for AD, Boston-based builder Nick Schiffer, takes us inside a decrepit, early 20th-century property in Pittsburgh’s Electric Hill neighborhood and proves that it has home renovation potential. 

Listed for $66,000, the one-bedroom, one-bathroom residence spans 617 square feet. It doesn’t have a bathroom on the two main levels, but there is one in the basement. With similar homes in the neighborhood selling for as much as $300,000, this fixer-upper may be well worth the effort. 

Schiffer believes that with a major home renovation, this rundown house can be a good investment over time. Instead of expanding the property with new construction, he suggests working with its existing footprint, which is suited for a couple or single inhabitant. Transforming the petite house into a chic Airbnb is another option. 

The exterior siding, not original to the structure is in decent shape, the house needs significant structural upgrades, as well as comparatively minor cosmetic touches. Given the absence of a backyard, he recommends manicuring the front lawn. Adding a firepit and chairs provides the new owners a space to relax and take in the views of the surrounding neighborhood, which overlooks the city. Rebuilding the deck, and grounding the posts that hold up the roof, is an absolute must. 

As for the floor plan of the original home, Schiffer suggests optimizing the natural light and big windows at the front of the house by switching the location of the living room and the kitchen. Building a powder room on the entry level and a full bath on the second floor, where the bedroom is, makes more sense than having one bathroom in the basement. Instead, he recommends a utilitarian laundry room.

Renovations throughout include building wall insulation to create natural heat, reconfiguring the electrical system from scratch, and replacing the current staircase with a spiral version that connects all three levels.

All told, Schiffer estimates that the total renovation to make the house not only inhabitable, but cozy, will cost around $150,000.

Watch the full episode to see more ideas on reimagining a forgotten turn-of-the-century property into a place called home.

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