Renovation projects have seen a major boom during the pandemic. Houzz, an online home renovation platform that connects renovation specialists with customers, reported a 58% annual increase in inquiries. Predictably, being homebound has led to a lot of Americans looking for increased comfort in their surroundings. A tightening real estate market and the explosive popularity of the @CheapOldHouses Instagram account have illuminated buyers’ hunger to take on restorations in older homes that may have been doomed to neglect in the past.
Christopher Corbett is an urban planner based in Pittsburgh, and he found just such a gem when he decided to renovate a 1920s duplex at the start of last year. Christopher’s journey to homeownership was a remarkable one; having experienced homelessness, he was seeking a stable place to feel secure when he purchased a home at the start of the pandemic. Christopher focused on renovating a single section of the home to create a comfortable living condition while he worked on the rest of the structure.
Christopher’s current living arrangement is hardly glamorous: He has a working bathroom in the basement, which is a traditional feature known as a “Pittsburgh Potty.” It’s a historical remnant from the days of the steel industry; when steel workers throughout the city would get home, they entered through the basement bathroom in order to clean up before entering their homes. While the home doesn’t yet have a working shower, Christopher relies on his gym membership for twice daily shower trips. “That’s what I have to do to make this work. It’s temporary. I’m really thankful to be in the situation to afford a gym.”
Follow Christopher on Instagram @corbettcj to keep up with his renovation journey.