It is a common thought amongst investigators that renovations on a building can stir up paranormal activity. With most things paranormal it stems from speculation and backed up by personal experience. Even so, there seems to be some merit to these claims to start a discussion. A lot of private cases report a surge in paranormal activity perhaps after moving into a new house and making renovations. They feel a spirit resident is not happy with the changes. Other people have reported activity which has led them to an odd item buried deep within the walls or floor like the spirit wanted them to find this item. So let’s look at this from an investigator’s point of view and not just ask the question if renovation sparks activity because you probably already have an opinion on this, but lets also look at 'why' would it spark activity?
I love and hate the concept of the stonetape theory. I find it absolutely fascinating. It also offers an explanation for residual hauntings but it is not without its faults. The stonetape theory is the thought that energy is imprinted in our surroundings and can be replayed in the right conditions. We talk as investigators about experimenting with infrasound to almost ‘shake’ this energy out of the walls. The hum of the machines and frequency could hit that right note and cause this energy to be released. With this in mind, it would be quite possible to think that the loud bangs of a hammer in the wall, drills and the disarray of a makeshift construction site could possibly do exactly the same thing. The actual renovation itself could be triggering this residual energy to play. One of the theories that I love discussing is ‘why do spirits walk through walls?’. I think the below picture explains this perfectly.
If it is a residual energy, they are not aware of your presence and hence why they do not communicate intelligently with you. It is merely just energy replaying over and over. Maybe where there was a door 100 years ago, there is now a wall. This energy does not know that the door is not there anymore. They will walk the same path that they have always walked so to us, it appears they are walking through a wall.
Not all energy is residual. If it was, then how would we get what seems like intelligent responses? We don’t know what a ‘ghost’ is, again we only can speculate. A popular opinion is that a spirit is someone who has passed on but still remains here. Maybe the house you have moved into was their family home for decades and it is where they want to remain. It would then be conceivable that they might get a little pissed off if you start changing everything. Maybe they want everything to stay the same so they are venting their frustrations in the form of making themselves known. I remember years ago attending a private case where a gentleman purchased a property which was quite run down. After he started renovating, the activity started. He at one point said he saw the apparition of a man who matched photos he had found in the attic. This man was nodding at him and almost giving him his approval. He felt that the man was happy that he was restoring the property and giving him his blessing. He felt he was also led to odd areas of the house by who he believes was the spirit of this man where he found items hiding in the walls and in the roof that belonged to this man’s family. At one point he found a box of photos where he was able to find a photo of the man that he believed he had seen. Again he believed that this man wanted him to find these items. Whether this is the case or not, it gave him the comfort that he needed to not only finish the renovations, but live there comfortably.
It is important to acknowledge as an investigator of course, that it is possible that activity does not increase at all during renovations. We just merely think it does because it is one of those common theories that isn’t really backed up by concrete data. A lot of renovations occur when you move into a new property. You are already unfamiliar with the surroundings. There is a phenomena called The new house effect which I have written about previously where people are not yet aware of the sounds a house makes. The floorboards creaking, the sound of the house settling can be un-nerving especially in the still of the night if it is something you are not used to. Some people can misinterpret this as being a haunting. If you are then renovating this house and hearing these noises, they are likely to be amplified because the house is in disarray. Planks of wood could accidently fall over and be misinterpreted as an angry spirit not liking the renovations. Again we have to remember that not everything is paranormal. This common theory of renovation amping up activity is quite prevalent in popular TV shows such as Ghost Adventures. Remember not everything on TV is 'fact'.
I have been exploring more and more over the last few years the concept of psi within the field of parapsychology. If you read this blog, you will have most certainly noticed this. Instead of activity being labeled as a spirit of a person who was once living, what if it was us that was causing the activity? By being in a property that is being renovated and already having the belief that it could increase activity, are we unknowing manifesting this activity ourselves? Particularly in a case where you are specifically going to a location to investigate that has been recently renovated with the thought in your mind that it will increase activity, could you be unknowingly causing this activity to happen? Much like in the Philip experiment where you have a group of people focusing on the 'fake' spirit of Philip to appear, if by focusing on the fact that there has been a renovation and that it will cause activity, could your group be making this activity happen? It is just a different way to look at things.
In my own experiences as a paranormal investigator, I have noticed no significant increase in activity when a property has been renovated. There has been what I interpret to be activity, but is it higher than normal? No it is the same sometimes if not less than normal. The best example here I can use is Black Rock House. I am there on a fairly regular basis so I know what the common level of activity to expect is. They are often renovating and improving the house. I can say quite confidently that after this has happened, there has not been an increase in activity. There has been activity, but it is the same sort of activity I would come to expect even if there had not been any renovations. We ask the spirits, ‘Do you like the changes?’. We have received what appear to be intelligent answers which indicate they are aware that there have been some changes. To me again this does not suggest that the renovations have caused this activity, because it is activity I would expect to receive anyway. Is it again a case of where people are attending an investigation of a recently renovated property and because they are receiving responses they feel it is a result of the renovation? How do they know that they would not have received those responses had the property have not been renovated?
So to sum it all up, I personally don’t think that it ‘amps’ up activity. It is most likely activity that would have occurred anyway but perhaps is brought to your attention because of the renovation or seems like it is more significant because you are looking more closely for it. The only way to really measure this would again to be collect data. I have written an article 'Why we should be logging data to back up our claims' and this is the perfect example. So if you have an opportunity to investigate a property before an after a renovation, collect some data and log everything. Has there really been an increase in activity or is it activity that would have occurred anyway?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Do you think that renovations amp up paranormal activity? Tell me your experiences in the comments below.
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