Real Estate

The Incredible Expanding $150,000 House: It’s Not 500 Square Feet Anymore.

As families grow and space needs change, the conventional move is to trade one home for another. Rebecca Rudolph and Colin Thompson would say it doesn’t have to be that way.

Instead of moving, you can change your home, time and again, to meet those evolving needs.

“We’ve been in our house almost 24 years,” said Mr. Thompson, 50, an architect at Gensler in Los Angeles. “But it has not been the same house.”

The story of the couple’s home, which has expanded and shifted shape many times over the years, began in the summer of 2000. As young architects who had recently graduated from the Southern California Institute of Architecture, they wanted to find a building that they could afford and put their stamp on. With a budget of $150,000, they looked at some of the least desirable homes in Los Angeles.

Rebecca Rudolph and Colin Thompson, both architects, have renovated and expanded their house in Los Angeles many times over many years.Credit…Yoshihiro Makino

The winner: a 500-square-foot unoccupied shack of a house in Atwater Village, with an eviction notice on the front door, broken furniture on the lawn and a yard encircled by chain-link fencing.

“We were babies, and the real estate agent said, ‘Are you sure you want to buy this house?’” said Ms. Rudolph, 50, a founder of the architecture firm Design, Bitches. “But we were like, ‘Yes, this is great.’”

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