Small (Modular) House Construction: Progress Pics and Timeline

Here is a slide show of my project!  It will be updated with new pics as we approach completion, so check back often!

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In the Neighborhood: Morningside

Pittsburgh is a city that exists as a collection of neighborhoods… these neighborhoods are so much a part of Pittsburgh’s charm!  This house happens to be located in one such neighborhood called Morningside.

Map of Pittsburgh Neighborhoods.

Map of Pittsburgh Neighborhoods. Source:

I have to admit, I didn’t know much about Morningside when I found the vacant lot.  Morningside is like the middle child between Highland Park and Lawrenceville.  Highland Park is very much the oldest — authoritative, well-established, sophisticated.  It’s comprised of large, stately homes with well-manicured lawns.  Lawrenceville, on the other hand, is very much the baby  – unconventional, free-spirited, and gets all the attention; it attracts artists and hipsters and has recently experienced a renaissance.  Morningside is, well, a bit invisible between the two.  So, I began exploring – driving the streets, getting a feel for this neighborhood that I’ve come to really, really appreciate.

Morningside sign

A bit of factual info:  Morningside was a farming community in the late1800’s-early 1900s, with few ways to get to it until 1905.  The Chislett street Trolley line was completed in 1905, and allowed people access to Morningside besides from Butler Street.  This spurred residential development.  Morningside gets its name because it extends from the southeast to the northwest and gets sun nearly all day long.  According to Zillow, it is only 0.5 sq miles in area.

A couple of highlights from my self-tour:

View of Allegheny River from corner of Morningside Avenue and Baker Street

View of Allegheny River from corner of Morningside Avenue and Baker Street

Mural located at corner of Chislett Street and Greenwood.  Artist:   Jeff Schreckengost  Funding:  Sprout Fund

Mural located at corner of Chislett Street and Greenwood. Artist: Jeff Schreckengost Funding: Sprout Fund

For me, the major appeal of Morningside is its location — the homes off Butler Street have clear views of the river, it’s an easy and quick drive to major highways and bridges, and a stone’s throw away from the hubs of Lawrenceville, Highland Park, and East Liberty.  Of course, a neighborhood isn’t just its landscape and architecture but also the people who live there.  Morningside is very much a “neighborhood” —  neighbors talk to each other, homeowners are here to stay for a while, and everyone loves “their street”.

Just like people have personalities, I happen to believe that places/neighborhoods with a rich history also have one that they retain throughout the years.  An article on Morningside as published in The Pittsburgh Leader in 1905.  I thought it was wild how it was described:  “Morningside is in a Picturesque Valley” and “this sequestered spot is unknown to ninety-nine out of a hundred Pittsburgers” and “easy direct route to the popular zoo.”  Fast-forward over a century later and one would still describe Morningside the same way 🙂


The Lot

After weeks of scoping out the neighborhood, I found a small vacant lot that’s a definite contender for my project.  It’s really narrow at only 22’x100′, but has promise.

(Please ignore Eyesore next to it.)  On the promising side, it’s relatively flat and does not need to be cleared (read:  cost savings).  It’s also a corner lot (not easy to come by in the city!) so there is some breathing room.  It is skinny, but hopefully that won’t be an issue for a small house.  On the flip side, it does sit next to Eyesore.  It’s also in Morningside, a neighborhood that’s like the quietest kid in class – no one thinks about it or notices it because all the other neighborhoods around it are gettin’ all the attention.  That might not be a bad thing come ruckus time, but may not be a good thing come time to sell..  However, I still think we have a strong contender here… 🙂