FINALLY FOUND A PLACE WE COULD AFFORD
“Vito and Giuseppe Bertucci, father and son, living at 3,103, South Twelfth Street, Tacoma, Washington, were equal owners of their house. The son was married. A short time ago the house caught fire and, as a result, became in need of repairs. But here a hitch arose. Father and son could not agree upon just what should be done. So, in 1906 the Bertuccis hired a carpenter to cut their house in two and literally became a divided family.”
A nail house (钉子户 dīngzihù) is a Chinese neologism for homes belonging to people (sometimes called “stubborn nails”) who refuse to make room for development. The term, a pun coined by developers, refers to nails that are stuck in wood, and cannot be pounded down with a hammer.
A number of high-profile nail houses have received widespread attention in the Chinese press. In one famous case, one family among 280 others at the location of a six-story shopping mall under construction at the location of a former “snack street” in Chongqing refused for two years to vacate a home their family had inhabited for three generations. Developers cut their power and water, and excavated a 10-meter deep pit around their home. The owners broke into the construction site, reoccupied it, and flew a Chinese flag on top. Yang Wu, a local martial arts champion, used nunchakus to make a staircase to their house, and threatened to beat any authorities who attempted to evict him. His wife, a restaurateur named Wu Ping who had planned to open a restaurant in the home’s ground floor, granted interviews and frequent press releases to generate publicity. The owners turned down an offer of 3.5 million yuan (US$453,000), but eventually settled with the developers in 2007.