/ Rob Beschizza / 9 am Mon, May 25 2015
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  • Holdouts who refuse to sell their "nail houses" to developers

    Holdouts who refuse to sell their "nail houses" to developers

    Angry with Chinese homeowners who refuse to sell out, the country's eager and rapacious developers call their houses "stubborn nails" that can't be pounded into wood.

    With a Chinese national flag on its rooftop, this lonely dwelling remains to block a newly-built road in Luoyang, Henan province, China. The developers clearly anticipate its prompt removal, though local media report that the house owner did not agree with government's compensation plan for relocation and has refused to move out even as connected homes are torn down. The picture was taken May 16, 2015, by a Reuters stringer.

    In earlier times, the people's republic was the official owner of real estate. But China's economic reforms have reinforced private ownership of property without fully elaborating when public interest may prevail, according to Wikipedia. The result? Delicious development schadenfreude.

    nail-house-in-chinaThis house, posted to Twitter but otherwise unsourced (Google Image search suggests its from Reuters, too), wouldn't look out of place in a coffee-table book about Tiny House living. But it does look out of place in the middle of a road next to a multistory mixed-use development in Nanning.

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    This nail house in Chongqing is completely surrounded by development that makes it all-but inaccessible. But however hard it is for its owners to get to the front door, it's clearly no walk in the park for the would-be operators of the shopping mall they want to put there instead. The photo was posted to Wikimedia commons by Zhou Shuguang.

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    A single apartment owner who refused to sell out gave the world this remarkable building in Fujian province, photographed here in November 2013. Though most of the block was demolished, a peculiar remnant remains inhabited. Photograph: The Independent.

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    While the fate of many nail houses is to end up an inaccessible and plainly uninhabitable assertion of rights (and, not least, a form of passive resistance to corrupt or overbearing authority) some end up proving the owners' savvy. Now surrounded by high-end luxury apartments, this nail-house is a renovation away from being the only one with a decent yard.

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    The homeowners stories, however, are often compelling. Here, Zheng Meiju shows a Reuters stringer her home in Rui’an, Zhejiang, in July 2013: "She has been living in the partially demolished home for nearly a year, even though the water and electricity supply were cut," reports the unnamed photographer. Below, a woman is reduced to tears after developers finally take down her home.

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    Developers in fast-growing China are eager to proceed with their epic construction projects. Sometimes, however, they end up with more than one rough nail in the board. This photo depicts a project said to be abandoned due to the number of holdouts.

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    This nail house is said to have belonged to Wu Ping, who "remained defiant after the expiry of a court deadline to demolish her house." Users on the popular Tianya BBS voted it as "the coolest nail house in history," reports Trend spotting.

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    Only two houses remained in a village in Yichang, Hubei, despite residents having "been subjected to anonymous attacks where the power and water supplies to their homes were cut off," reported The Daily Mail.
    Two homes on a construction site in Yichang, Hubei province, China, have become 'nail' houses after being left isolated when buildings surrounding them were torn down

    Like a sore thumb: Construction workers clear the land around this house because owners of the property refused to leave

    Sometimes, developers just give up, as in this case, where the road simply flows around the "stubborn nail" without much apparent care for safety or liability.

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    The holdout below, however, seems to have ended up with a primely positioned storefront outside a new shopping mall. [Reuters]

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    China is not, of course, the only place where wily property owners fight back against greedy developers. Here is the residence of Edith Macefield, who famously turned down $1m for her tiny home.

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