A Guide for Making Buildings Into Haunted Houses

by Shae Hazelton
Choose a location with dark and eerie features for the best result.

Choose a location with dark and eerie features for the best result.

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Making an average building into a haunted house is no small task, but with the help of your friends, the right budget and proper tools, it gets easier. Scope out your location early and start planning as soon as possible. Consult your helpers to get their feedback as well to create a haunted house you are all proud to show off.

Finding Your Resources

To make an effective haunted house, you need electricity and you must familiarize yourself with the layout of the building. Walk around the interior and exterior of the building to get an idea of your working space. Take note of dark, secluded areas you can use to scare your guests. Record the dimensions of each room so you can make a written plan for your decoration ideas. Locate any outdoor outlets. If there are no outdoor outlets, make note of interior electrical outlets near the front of the house.


Your decor should be scary, but it should also fit into the overall theme of the house without breaking your wallet. Ask for furniture donations from your volunteers or pick up some furniture at local garage sales. Hang ceiling-mounted curtains and place large wardrobes to create hiding places ideal for scaring people. Hang spooky pictures on the walls and set out vases of dead flowers to add to the unnerving home design. Fog up the windows of the building with fake snow so they are a little more difficult to see through.

Using Human-Shaped Props

Mannequins create imposing figures and leave your live volunteers free for other tasks. Dress mannequins in spooky costumes and position them outside the building so they are barely visible through the windows. As guests approach the windows, they will get a surprise when they finally see the imposing figure outside the window. Climb to the roof of the building, if you have access to it. Tie the end of a rope around a secure point on the roof, such as an old chimney or pipe. Tie the other end of the rope into a noose and place it around the neck of a mannequin. Lower the mannequin gently down the side of the building so its hands are suspended. Position it so you can see it through the windows of the building. Position the rest of your mannequins in places where they will cast an imposing shadow or startle a guest.

Setting the Mood

Your haunted house won't be that impressive if you start tours at noon while the sun is still high in the sky. Wait until night to get things rolling and set the mood beforehand. Turn on the lights in the entire building. Walk around and determine locations where you could use more or less lighting. Remove and add light bulbs as necessary. Remember, dim is good for scaring people, but only if they can see your creepy props. Place large pots of dead plants near the front wall of the house. Set fog machines behind the pots and plug them into a nearby electrical outlet. Turn them on half an hour before guests arrive so the front yard has a nice layer of fog. Spread fake spider webs in the corners of the building and over furniture. Spread talcum powder over the floor to look like dust. Enlist two of your volunteers to have a mock fight in the talcum powder dust. Finish by having one volunteer lay flat on her back while the other drags her out of the room. This creates a spooky murder scene. Tell your volunteers to wait behind curtains and doors to scare people as they pass.

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