11 Weird House Building Superstitions
All houses have their strange quirks, the single squeaky floorboard, the mysterious switch that doesn’t actually do anything, that strange shape in the living room that grunts and emits terrible smells (oh no, that’s actually our teenage son). But along with their unique character, many houses were built with curious traditions.
Here are some of the strangest house building superstitions from around the globe.
Two medallions that have often been found buried in the foundations of houses are those of St Joseph and St Benedict. As the patron saint of carpenters, Joseph is believed to ensure a strong construction. St Benedict medals are believed by some to ward off evil spirits.
In many cultures coins are buried in the foundations to bring the homeowners good fortune. In some versions, coins are placed under the doorstep to encourage wealth into the home.
Housebuilders in the Philippines are very careful with the number of stairs, which are counted in threes “Oro, plata, mata” meaning, gold, silver and death. Superstition states that the topmost step must not end in mata (death), as this will surely bring bad luck to the new occupants. It’s also unlucky for there to be 13 stairs.
The fear of the number 13 is reflected throughout our homes Many people won’t buy a house that is numbered 13. Some property developers will simply skip number 13 as statistics show it will sell slower and for less. 28% of British streets don’t have a number 13 (check your street). On average, properties numbered 13 sell for 2% less than 11 and 15. Less than 5% of high-rises in New York have a 13th floor.
Buy-Day The 13th
It’s not just the house, it’s also the date. Fewer homes are sold on the 13th day of the month. While Fridays are normally one of the busier days of the week for completions, when Friday the 13th occurs in a month, on average sales/completions drop by 43%.
In Italy 13 is a lucky number, the expression “fare tredici” means “make thirteen”, or strike it lucky.
Topping out ceremonies began in Scandinavia where builders would celebrate reaching the top and finishing point of the house by hanging a bough to thank the forest and tree dwelling spirit for allowing the use of the wood. The tradition is now observed by different trades such as masons, brickies and carpenters, but is aways tied to reaching the highest point of their job.
In China, 8 is a lucky number and homes with 8 in the number tend to fetch a higher price. Chinese buyers will also often include 8 in the final fee. 4, 17, 19 and 53 are all considered unlucky (not great news if you were born on the 17/04/1953).
Long & Winding Road
Chinese gardens often have winding paths and houses built with curved rooves, both of which are said to confuse spirits who can only travel in straight lines.
That’s The Spirit
In parts of Southern Asia, ‘spirit houses’ are built close to homes to give dead spirits somewhere to live away from the main house (“Mum, Great-great-great-great-grandma’s walking around the garden again!”).
Exit This Way
Back in the Philippines, spirits are thought to hide in low, dark places, so special escape routes are sometimes built into basements to allow ghosts and spirits to leave.
In Europe, the biggest fear for housebuilders was witches getting down the chimney. Mummified cats, animals’ hearts pieced with iron nails, pots of urine… all manner of anti-witch totems were buried within the chimney or under the hearth to keep the pointy-hatted harridans away. A ‘witch’s crook’ was another tactic, essentially building a bend in the chimney to stop witches flying down it.