Home made of old railroad ties for sale for $409,950

The salvaged material has been used for construction since pioneer days.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Apr 20, 2011 1:38PM

© Realtor.comWhen you look for a house in suburbia, you don't expect to find one made of railroad ties, with a log-cabin vibe.

 

But that's what you'll get with one house currently for sale in Woodland Hills, Calif. (Realtor.com listing), in the San Fernando Valley area north of downtown Los Angeles. The rustic-looking home features a lot of wood, but it does appear to have been updated with plenty of modern amenities.

The house was built in 1949, which might seem long past the era of railroad-tie construction. But Mother Earth News has a story online from 1971 about a couple who built a 2,200-square-foot home with railroad ties they got free as well as other salvaged materials.

 

This wasn't the only California house built in the 1940s with railroad ties. A couple bought a bank repo house last year for $65,000. Unfortunately, when summer came they realized from the smell that the ties had been treated with the preservative creosote, which is no longer recommended for residential use, and they were considering demolishing the house.

 

It's certainly an issue to explore in a home inspection, though the chemical does dissipate over time, and not all railroad ties were treated with that preservative.

The Woodland Hills house is being offered for $409,950, after a price reduction. It has 1,332 square feet and three-quarters of a bath, according to the real-estate listing, which means a shower but no tub, plus updated plumbing and electric, skylights and a stone fireplace.

Railroad ties have been used in home construction since pioneer days, and you can still order salvaged railroad ties today. A company called Rail Yard Studios in Tennessee makes furniture of the old ties, but they note that the railroad ties they use were never treated with creosote.

Tags: selling
 
15Comments
May 20, 2011 3:59AM
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There are several of these houses along the Union Pacific line in west Texas. Most built in the late 20s early 30s. The outsides are stucco and the inside walls are plaster and have raised many happy healthy families. Even before AC units were added they remained fairly cool in the very hot west Texas summers and the two that I visited frequently as a boy I never smelled the creosote.
May 19, 2011 9:58PM
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REAL-ESTATE DEVELOPERS DON'T LIKE ME.

 

GO AHEAD SmileBUY A PREFAB -OR YR CONDO  ON THE ANT FARM!

       

IT'S ALL ANT-FARM.

May 19, 2011 9:53PM
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Creosote isn't the worst but. a splinter in your finger or toe from railroad ties is a toxic blood poison it may kill you even with anti-biotics for the inflamation.

Chemicals to control insect and dry rot  (preservative ) are dangerous to human health - DOESN'T ANYBODY HAVE ANY COMMON SENSE? why build homes with r.r.ties when there are MANY other RECYCLED materials so much healthier... 

 

GOOD INNOVATIVE IDEAS, INGENUITY, IMAGINATION  WITH RECYCLED JUNK - YOU COULD BUILD UNDERGROUND USING R.R. TIES TO SHORE UP THE DIRT.  AND OLD TIRES - LIKE GARAGE WARRIORS .  USE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT TO BEST ADVANTAGE -(SUN, WIND, TREES, ROCKS) CREATE A UNIQUE HOME WITH  LOCAL TALENT  AND COMMON SENSE  

 

TO POISON YRSELF IS duh!! DUMB- AND TO POISON OTHERS  MAY BE SOMETIMES PROFITABLE, BUT ALWAYS UNETHICAL.

May 19, 2011 8:29PM
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Isn't creosote a carcinogen, and arent railroad ties soaked in creosote as a preservative?
May 19, 2011 5:51PM
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Somehow I always loved that smell. But there are limits. I always associated it with going to the down the shore. As you can tell I am from just outside Philly, hence the "shore" reference. All the piers and boardwalks used to be treated with the stuff. I don't know that I could live in a house 24/7 with the smell being pretty intense I would think.Neat idea though.
May 19, 2011 12:03PM
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It's true that railroad ties are carcinogenic. You can find more information about this if you go the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website.

Apr 21, 2011 5:38AM
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Railroad ties have creosote in them, hope these don't! Thinking
Apr 21, 2011 5:06AM
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I AGREE. THE SUMMERTIME STENCH WOULD BE OFF THE CHART.
Apr 21, 2011 4:27AM
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Knew of a house like that when I lived in Wisconsin.  Anyone who lived in it for any period of time got cancer.  BAD idea!
Apr 21, 2011 4:00AM
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my great grandfather built  his home with railroad  ties  and tar paper in the 1920s on  a bean farm in pleasantview colo. it was lived in for 50 years raising 6 children.. he bought and moved a home from a highyway expansion onto the farm some time later,  a man did what he had to do , of course it was an upgrade to the sod hut he was born and raised in kansas in the 1890s.
Apr 21, 2011 3:41AM
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I can not beleive anyone would live in a house with a chemically treated insecticide construction.  IronB2008 is totally correct.  I can not immagine anyone would insure it either.  When it catches fire you better run as far away as you can.  Because the fire department won't show up either.
Apr 21, 2011 3:07AM
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 Here in Labrador there are still alot of creosote utility poles and when the wheather gets really warm in late june or early july they are covered with what we call august bugs also i have seen ants living in a 16'' x 16'' x 3' creosote soaked piece of wood
Apr 21, 2011 2:10AM
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I wouldn't buy a home built using Creosote treated materials. Creosote is a carcinogen. That's why they stopped using it for anything else. To say nothing of the smell. I agree it is a great preservative, just a bad chemical.
Apr 21, 2011 12:07AM
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They will be lucky if they get that price for 3/4 bath and less than 1400 sq ft any place today.  But...good luck to them.Creasote is the stuff they used to soak telephone poles in.  Smelly stuff, but no insects will get into that wood.
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