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This house is completely out of place in early 1980s New York City and the man faces many hardships in finishing the construction.

It is burned down by a gang of criminals known to the builder as it nears completion.

The arsonists are caught in the act and then the cops let this fish-out-of-water country bumpkin punch the leader of this gang in the stomach.

I believe a native New York woman was a romantic interest for this outsider as well.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Could be "Dream House (1981)".

From this page, the synopsis:

Charley Gross is a vacationing Georgia construction worker who meets and falls for Manhattan's comely Director of Urban Renewal, Laura. Despite facing rejection, Gross sets out to build a dream house for the both of them in one of New York's ghetto neighborhoods.

Here's a promo pic from the movie:

Dream House (1981) - Pic 01

There's not much information on the movie (apart from synopses), but there's a news article here.

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that must be it - brilliant find – Jeremy Leipzig Mar 24 '14 at 13:37

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