Ever move an old house?

DruidClarkApril 10, 2005

If so, what was your experience? Can it be cost effective?


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Depending upon the cost of the house, size, distance of move and cost of the new lot.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 3:21AM
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Another factor to consider is the number of electrical wires going across the roadways that will have to be moved to move the house. From what I understand it's not cheap to have those wires moved for a house that is coming thru.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 2:08PM
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Luckily, if we move it, it's from one side of the property to another, so the wires won't be an issue.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 9:30PM
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How big of a place are you talking about?
I'd think the easiest way to find out is to check in your area with the peeps who'd be doing the work. My guess is, never having done, it it would take a specialist to do the job. I think I'd check with a structural engineer first to see if it's worth moving.
Jacks, digging, making sure the weight is properly blanced, diconnecting everything so it can be reconnected with out major difficulty,insurance having a path cleared, repostioning it so it can be put on a new foundation.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 12:23PM
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We did, we did!

What do you want to know? We moved our house about 5 years ago along a 20 mile route and have been renovating/restoring it (mostly DIY) since. We finally moved into it Dec-Jan.

We used an experienced house and building mover--it was amazing to watch. We had the house inspected by a structural engineer to make sure it would withstand a move before making any plans to do so. It required permits with county and city zoning authorities because of the moving route. Expenses incurred were to the mover, 2 separate utility companies to drop and raise electrical lines, a tree trimmer to clear limbs encroaching into the space necessary for the house to travel along the entire route, and insurance before, during, and after the lift of the house (the house mover also carried his own insurance should anything go wrong, like if the house fell off the truck and hurt anyone or anything, etc.). Of course, we also needed a foundation at the site where the house was moved, a new well, septic system, electrical service, etc.

We immediately tore off the back 1/3 of the house, built a 2-story addition, and gutted the entire house for new insulation, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc. We have painstakingly refinished and restored as much of the original house as possible and used as much reclaimed and salvaged materials as possible for the new parts of the house--it's hard to tell where old ends and new begins.

We still have half of the roof to reshingle, the garage to build, the front wrap-around porch to rebuild (most was removed in the 50s), a pergola porch to build on the addition, and a lot of exterior restoration to tackle (gingerbread is in less than great condition and the gable ornaments on 2 gable ends are missing).

Sounds expensive, yes? Well, the house was purchased for next to nothing because it needed to be moved off-site. Most of the costs incurred for moving ended up being a wash as compared to the cost of purchasing any other house. Other expenses have been kept down by DIYing it over these past 5 long years. My DH and FIL have been the most amazing skilled jack-of-all-trades. What we didn't know how to do, we researched like crazy and taught ourselves. They aren't fast, but I'd take their quality anytime over a paid sub.

The link below contains 2 pics. The first is one of the house on the truck during the actual move. The second is the house shortly after the move--we still have all the exterior construction and detail to complete.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pics of moving and moved house

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 2:02PM
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Ah, I *knew* someone would have had this experience! Our house looks considerably smaller than yours and we wouldn't move it very far. We think it's the wrong place on the lot (perched on the edge of a drop off, rather than nestled into the woods).

The thing is, the house is not even, since it's build into the hillside. It actually has a really nice stone foundation around part of the house, but it's lower in front, so we would have to sacrifice the back wall of the kitchen.

We got a preliminary estimate, but I'm not sure how accurate it is. Plus, I'm wondering about this new hydraulic leveling system.

Anyway, thanks for the links. What a great house!

How did you find the right move, btw?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 2:14PM
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In my area (Nebraska), there are 2 well-known and reputable house movers that work all over the US and a few smaller, less-known operations. I have a cousin who has had several houses moved within her family members, so we started with her. We also asked at the city zoning office for opinions. After checking references and speaking with both of the better-known movers, we had a better feel about one over the other, and that's the one we used.

You mention that you are concerned about the prelim estimate. This is what we found out. The majority of moving costs are just to raise and lower a house. Only a very small amount was attributed to the move, and it was at a considerable distance of 20 miles as compared to your situation. For instance, our expense to the mover was about $12,000 (5 years ago). About $10,000 of that was for lifting the house and setting it down. The remainder was attributed to the actual transportation of the house. The move was accomplished over a 3 day period. Day 1: prepping the house for lifting and, well, lifting it. This was a short day--probably only took 3-4 hours or so. The second day was the move and was a long day. With 20 miles of travel at a snail's pace and stopping/starting at each electrical line that needed dropped and raised, it took the better part of 8-10 hours (it's hard to remember exactly). The house also had to be shored up for overnight stability at the new site. The third day was short. The house was set down and everyone gone in about 2 hours. Then, the fun began!

Your house site sounds cool. I hope you find a way to re-use the stones from the original stone foundation. If you don't want them, you can always ship them out to me (talk about expensive)!!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 3:14PM
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Not us, but our neighbor moved her house ~2 blocks away. The neighboring school wanted the lot to expand, she wanted to keep the house (it's part of an historic district now, but wasn't then). They had to cut it in half to move.

She's happy with it, but you can still see where it was cut in two, which may be due to not fixing it properly...

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 5:51PM
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DruidClark, we are thinking right now of doing the exact same thing as you are. Our 1790 house is situated poorly on the lot and we are thinking of relocating it. The lot is "terraced", so the house has been built into the hills. Won't be easy. Also there are huge, old trees to consider.
It will be great for us if it can be done, because we will be able to put a basement underneath it when we do it.
We are just in the planning stages, but we think it is definitely a dream worth pursuing!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 7:35PM
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Holly13, it makes you wonder why folks situated the houses in the places they did. I can understand the right-next-to-the-road location, but ours is at the end of the street. The terracing (our is built in kind of two levels) is an interesting solution to a problem.

Our house is about 100 years newer (!) than yours, but since technology was slow to come to Western Penn, is likely no more than 50 years newer in terms of the building technique. We have a partial basement, which is interesting, too. I'm surprised they didn't dig out more, but then when you're digging by hand...

We have mortise-and-tenon joinery, which you can just see if you peek through the floor boards at one place. I dunno. It's a solid house, (except for the remuddled parts) but...

Tresbebes, our estimate was (if I remember correctly) about $15,000 to $20,000 and yes, the movers estimated that most of that would be in lifting it up and down, rather than the actual move.

Sounds like a really interesting process. I would love to see a house moving down the street! BTW, you mentioned that your NE movers work all over the country. Can you point me in the direction of those folks? Or, do you think it's worth it (i.e., ours is a small job, comparatively).

Thx again.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 7:49AM
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Actually, I have lived in two houses that have been moved. The home I grew up in was moved 10 miles. The home I currently live in was moved a few hundred yards. The great thing about moving them is that you get a new foundation! I love/loved both homes.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 9:16AM
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Clearing the right of way of power, phone, cable TV lines and other overhead utilites was a large part of the bill. Even the trafic lights had to be raised.
In some states you can threaten to sue the POCO for obstructing the right of way and make them eat the bill, in others you cannot.
Short moves without right of way issues are often surprisingly inexpensive. Another gotcha that occured was a requirement to upgrade all interior systems to the latest code revision. We got zero grandfathering.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 4:41PM
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What's a POCO? The "estimate" not written, etc., etc. was $15,000 and that did not include a new foundation. I think that's high, since all of the other hassles that are normally there aren't. However, the foundation is uneven, since the house is built into a grade. It comes down closer to the ground in the front. So that might affect the cost. How about post move? Any settling/cracking issues?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 1:03PM
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POwer COmpany.
Uneven or out of level? As long as the old foundatin is reasonably level there should not be any serious problems.
On the frame house we removed the masnry chinmeys and rebuilt them. on the brick house we removed the portion of the chimney above the roof line. Neither house had any signifiacnt cracking issues. Both had plaster walls throughout.
We ended up doing more damage getting the plumbing, wiring, and HVAC up to code than the entire move.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 8:35PM
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Moving a house on the same property is easy if it relatively flat, although it will be an experience you will never forget. It is helpful if the house does not have to rotate much. Get an architect involed immediately. You are creating a new house in many respects so an architect will quickly earn his keep.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 9:57AM
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would someone please send me the name of the movers in Nebraska? thanks very much.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 8:19PM
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There's a book about this called "Cottage for Sale" by Kate Whouley. She goes into detail how she purchased a small cottage, moved it and then attached it to the existing part of her house. Very detailed account and the cost ended up being more than she anticipated for various reasons (although this is probably not the norm). It includes neat photos and she does a good job of explaining the process. You might want to check it out just for a retrospective view of the process!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 10:06AM
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I assume the OP has either moved their house or not since the thread was started 3 1/2 years ago.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 12:41PM
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Well, that is correct. We did not move the house, but removed a pile of dirt and added on a really nice living room. Completely redid the house (still working on it), etc., etc., etc. You know how it goes when you have an old house...

I am still interested in the topic, however, since there are some incredible bargains here in Western Penn and it seems a shame to tear the old ones down.

Happy Turkey Day to Y'ins

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 2:25PM
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