We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Spite House?

Michael Pollick
By
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At HomeQuestionsAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Legal disputes involving real estate or inherited property can be very contentious, and occasionally a dissatisfied or disgruntled party will do something completely irrational simply out of malice towards the other party. One form of revenge is the planning and construction of a spite house, a building which serves little purpose except to be a nuisance or distraction for others. A spite house may be designed to be completely out of proportion with the surrounding neighborhood, for example.

If a property owner controls a narrow strip of land, he or she may build an equally narrow and largely uninhabitable house on it just to block the light or view of a neighboring building. Sometimes a property owner will refuse to sell a small but valuable piece of urban property to developers, then design a so-called "skinny house" in order to occupy the space between two adjacent buildings. Sometimes the builder will live in the spite house himself or herself, or else he or she may decide to rent the building to less-than-desirable tenants.

Many times the construction of a spite house is the result of a family dispute over property rights or an inheritance. Siblings may passionately disagree over the terms of a will which appears to divide the inherited property unevenly, for example. The sibling with the smaller piece of property could build a completely disproportional spite house which effectively blocks the view of the other sibling's home or creates other malicious distractions. While some states do have laws and provisions against the construction of spite houses, many times a disgruntled property owner cannot be legally prevented from constructing a viable but clearly provocative building on his or her property. He or she may also be able to paint the house in a number of color and design schemes and add impractical or intrusive items such as tall spires or non-functional chimneys.

There are a number of recognized spite houses in existence across the United States, but many of the more famous ones are located in the northeast section. One famous spite house in New York City was constructed by an eccentric doctor who refused to sell a narrow strip of land to a developer for $1000 USD. When the developer balked at the doctor's suggested price, the doctor decided he would build his own apartment complex on a strip of land only five feet wide and 100 feet long. The doctor and his family lived in one section of the house and rented out the other units to presumably very thin tenants. The apartments required customized furnishing and extremely narrow stairways, but they were considered legally inhabitable. The spite house did manage to block the large bay windows installed on one side of the adjacent apartment complex. After a number of years, the doctor's property fell under the control of developers who didn't share the doctor's sense of vengeance and ordered the building to be torn down.

If a storefront or house in an urban setting appears to be unusually narrow or completely out of context with the neighboring properties, it may indeed be a spite house. While some spite houses were not designed to be especially habitable, others have a certain charm because of their eccentric floor plans or jarring exteriors. A spite house which has survived the wrecking ball is often a tourist attraction in many urban neighborhoods.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to HomeQuestionsAnswered, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to HomeQuestionsAnswered, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a...
Learn more
HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.