15 surreal pictures of Chinese 'nail houses' whose owners refused to cave to developers

Some homes are built out of spite. Others are left standing as a form of protest.

In China, “nail houses” — homes that remain standing despite pressure from real estate developers to sell — have become an increasingly common phenomenon.

In the cases of many nail houses, owners are protesting what they see as lowball offers from developers who want to build ambitious, private projects on their land. A law passed in 2007 makes it more difficult for the government to seize land, but conflicts remain.

The resulting homes often look bizarre juxtaposed against modern high-rises, office buildings, and shopping malls. Some even stand proudly on roads, forcing drivers to take detours around them.

This ramshackle home stood on the square in front of a shopping mall in Changsha, in China's Hunan province, in 2007.

One of the most famous 'nail houses' in China, this home in Wenling, Zhejiang province belonged to an elderly couple who found their compensation offer inadequate. As a result, it stands in the middle of a road that was paved through their village.

Another 'nail house' in a road, the owner of this home in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region reportedly failed to reach an agreement about compensation for demolition.

This nail house in Chongqing Municipality was the subject of debate in 2009, when the owners insisted on more compensation to allow the demolition of their home to make way for new apartment buildings.

This 6-floor villa in the central business district of Shenzhen became a 'nail house' in 2007 after the owners demanded that the developer of a financial center triple his compensation offer.

The owner of this partly demolished nail house in Rui'an, Zhejiang province lived in the home for nearly a year after local authorities cut her water and electricity supply. Developers had sought to destroy the house to make way for a new business plaza.

This shack was the last in the area to be demolished to make way for a commercial project. It came down in 2007, shortly after China passed a law making it harder for the government to seize land.

The banner on this nail house, which blocked the construction of new apartments in Hefei, Anhui province, in 2008, says 'strongly requesting the government to punish the developer who demolished my house, give back my home.'

The owners of this home in the middle of a construction site in Guangzhou lost a 2008 lawsuit seeking more compensation in exchange for their home.

Here, a partly demolished home stands at a construction site in Hefei in 2010.

A woman walks past the last remaining home in an area on the outskirts of Nanjing in 2008. The owners had sought more money for their home from the developers of a wetland project.

The family that lived inside this nail house in Xiangyang reportedly refused to move because of a disagreement over their compensation. It stands in stark contrast to the high-rises in the background.


In 2010, the owner of this nail apartment in Nanjing refused to move even though demolition had already started on other rooms in the building. The banner, from supporters, says 'People from the old south district of Nanjing support you.'

The owner of this partly demolished home in Kunming refused to move, even after water and electricity supplies to the house were cut.

A woman stands at the balcony of her house, which was demolished to build new apartments in downtown Shanghai in December 2010.

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