Moving a turn-of-the-century home?

ccintxFebruary 15, 2012

Some friends have a turn-of-the-century farmhouse that they want moved off of their property. They have offered it to us for free. We just have to pay to move it.

What are the concerns with doing this? The home is in quite livable condition, although it does need cosmetic work (oak floors need redone, could use some paint, add a dishwasher, etc) Just wondering if anyone has had experience doing this?

Will all the wiring and plumbing need to be replaced after the move? Does a slab have to be poured for it?

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Contact someone who does housemoving about this. They'll be able to give you more detailed information and an estimate. Moving a house can be an economical way to get a new home, especially if the house is of historic or architectural value. But there are a lot of considerations to take into account before you make your decision.
Generally, you have to have a new foundation ready before the house is moved. You also have to plot your route carefully, and if there are a lot of power and telephone lines that will need to be raised or moved, the cost could go up significantly. The electrical and plumbing will depend on their current condition and the codes in your area.

There was a show on one of the cable TV channels called "Hauling House" that followed several house moves. See if you can find reruns or track it down on ... I don't know, wherever kids these days find everything on the web!

It sounds like it could be a very exciting project!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 9:36AM
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"Will all the wiring and plumbing need to be replaced after the move?"

That would depend on their condition, but moving does not normally disrupt interior wiring, just the connection to the POCO.

"Does a slab have to be poured for it?"

It needs some type of foundation.

If the house is masonry it is a lot heavier and harder to move.

Frame houses are usually not as bad, but count on having to rebuild any masonry chimneys (sometimes they can be moved, but a very thorough inside inspection is needed to check for cracks).

I have done it a couple times (both on the same lot and down the street a way).

Utility clearance (lifting any wires in the way) for the move can be a very large expense .

Talk to any local house movers but they may have to come from a distance.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 10:56AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Unless it is historically significant, or a great architectural featured house, or you're not going to move it very far, the costs may be too high compared to what you'd get compared to buying existing.

I grew up in a home that had been moved about 15 miles from where a expressway was being put through. The overall costs amounted to 10K in 1960. The median home price in 1960 was around 13K and this was in a location below average in costs, so maybe it was a wash between buying new and moving the house for my parents. It was my dad's idea though, and nothing my mom or any of the relatives could have said would have ever changed his mind. He was hardheaded that way and didn't look at the bottom line total on the expense sheet---or the mental costs of always living in a half done project.

Yeah, it was a cool house with hardwood floors and 9' ceilings, but there was zero insulation in it and it was freezing in the winter with only floor furnaces to heat and no AC in the summer. Only about 10% of the windows would operate without a prop stick holding them up. The biggest bone of contention was the single bathroom. That got fought over in many a battle with my dad usually the loser. To this day, I could never live in a one bathroom house!

Think very very carefully as to how much money and time you will have to put into such a project beyond just the moving costs and then compare that to purchasing a home that doesn't need to be moved. The hidden costs of moving a house is that there will be .a lot of structural shifting and potentially damage that will have to be dealt with once it arrives in it's location.

Every single bit of plaster had to be replaced over time. The jostling during the move made it lose it's "key" into the lathe, and every so often a great hunk would fall off the wall, sometimes in the middle of the night, scaring you to death. The electrical was ancient knob and tube and had to be completely redone---making more runnels in the plaster to be repaired---and while the 100 amp *fuse* panel that was put in in 1960 worked then, it all had to be replaced and upgraded again in 1990. While the existing plumbing didn't have to be redone, it would have been better had it been. The galvanized water lines and cast iron drains weren't for the long haul and my mother eventually had to replace them around 1990. It would have been much better had all of the walls been gutted and all of the systems had been replaced right after the move.

Sometimes "free" is the most expensive thing you can own!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 7:55PM
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Thank you so MUCH for the reality check! I hate to know what I would do if a piece of wall plaster fell off in the middle of the night. That detail is enough to get over that idea quickly! I can only image what a true money pit that could become. Thanks everyone for your input.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 8:36PM
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A decent mover is not going to damage plaster keys.

The actual equipment has improved a great deal over the past 60 years.

Better hydraulic systems allow buildings to be lifted smoothly and perfectly level.

It is a far cry from the old manual railroad jacks.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 11:49AM
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Here's an article moving a 1760 house in the Boston subburbs about a mile this weekend for $80k. This did not include police and fire. Also, this was a temporary move until a permanent home is found.

Here is a link that might be useful: 1760 house moved this weekend

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 12:59PM
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I lived in a house that had been moved. It came with a photo of the house sitting in the middle of Main street, with a note about how the house had to spend the night there because of some part of the process taking longer than expected.

It was a fine house, although the process was long completed (decades before) by the time I moved in.

Below is a link to a well-written saga blog about a house move. I enjoyed the read, but the quick takeaway from it: have an adequate budget for the work that has to be done after the house is moved. Heck, the story about the new roof--how he got the materials, how his father-in-law helped deliver them (down the mountain with almost no brakes)--great reading, but I don't want to live it.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Devil Queen

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 8:39AM
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