It is common for people who live in a residential area, to decide to tear down their house after 30 years or so and then build a new house in the exact same spot. Thus for the 6 or more months, the family must find somewhere to live even if it means minimalist living during that time. (I have some farm friends who lived in a construction site office for nearly a year while they were rebuilding!) This old houses was used only for temporary living as far as I know...
A little further on our walk, Choco and I came to an empty lot with bamboo branches stuck into the dirt and strings of paper decorations blowing in the wind. Ah, there must have been a Shinto dedication ceremony the day before. Usually the building to be built will be drawn out in the dirt and this simple "shrine" constructed and a ground breaking ceremony will be held. A day or two later the real ground breaking will begin. Japanese wouldn't think of starting construction (or maybe it is the carpenters who are leery about beginning construction) unless the Shinto priest blesses the site first.
In our case, we didn't build our own house. But I have Christian friends who have had their pastor come and bless the construction site of their to-be built house and then they have buried a Bible under the foundation.
The old has to be torn down before the new can be built up!