Finding “nail houses” in Google Earth

Nail houses are an interesting phenomenon, where homeowners refuse to sell their house/land to development companies and the company simply builds their new development around their house. They tend to be most common in China, but can occur in many different countries. The Disney/Pixar film “UP” featured Carl Fredricksen in his nail house before he attached the balloons and took off on his adventures with Russell.


The most famous real-life example of a nail house is probably the home in Chongqing, China, shown here, where the homeowner held out for nearly three years before finally selling to contractors:

Stefan Geens at Ogle Earth recently wrote an excellent article about nail houses in China, with geospatial references whenever possible. He covers a variety of nail houses in China in recent years (including the Chongqing house) and includes a nice KMZ file to help you find them all.
As he points out, Google Earth’s historical imagery tool can be quite useful when viewing the before/after of these various situations. I recommend you read his entire article to learn more.
Update: For more nail houses, check out this post from a few years ago on Google Sightseeing.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. That’s really cool! I wonder if you could ever find a nail home that beat out the contractors, and forever disrupted the entire project. Also cool is that historical imagery tool, I had no idea you could do that! Thanks. 🙂

  2. James Mac says:

    You could argue for Stott Hall Farm as a “nail house”, as it has 3 lanes of the M62 motorway on each side…

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