They are called “nail houses”, for their refusal to be hammered down by developers busy covering China’s biggest cities with concrete and tower blocks.
Those who succeed in facing down the developers who often refuse to offer acceptable levels of compensation, end up staying in their homes, but at a price.
“I just want them to build another house for me. They can build one the same size somewhere else, and decorate it like my old one, that’s all I want,” said homeowner Luo Baogen.
They find themselves marooned in the middle of a motorway, or surrounded by flattened wastelands awaiting the towers that will one day hem them in. Robbed of power and water, and often with death-defying access across seas of mud and rubble, or over moats where the land has been dug out around for underground parking.