Construction worker Shi Tieniu bought a presale apartment in an industrial city in northwestern China's Shaanxi province, billed as a "superior product" to be "passed down through generations."

Eight years later, it is an unfinished shell, and every night he must climb 20 flights of stairs to sleep in a threadbare room without water, heating or electricity.

"I almost never drink water, wash my face or brush my teeth," said Shi, 39, who moved into the Gaotie Wellness City complex in May.