HOUSE MOVING NEW?
It seems like a
lot of people are moving houses
these days, but house moving is not
new. The first record of a house
being moved is in “The Survey of
London” dated to 1598 by John Stow.
(Volume 13, No. 2 issue of the
Structural Mover) The International
Association of Structural Movers
just commemorated 400 years of house
moving: 1598 to 1998.
WHY DO PEOPLE MOVE HOUSES OR
Reason One: The Home or
Structure is Historic
If the House or
structure to be moved was once
owned, lived in, or used by a famous
or historically significant person,
or community of persons then it is
Reason Two: The Home or
Structure is Sentimental
If the house
holds sentimental value to someone,
i.e., Grandfather was born there,
it's “the old home place.” or,
conversely, because of negative
sentiment or bad memories - “Just
get it out of here.”
Reason Three: To Clear Land
structure is in the way of progress,
or if it’s not in the plans of the
developer or owner. The house may
have maple floors, stained glass,
crystal doorknobs, high ceilings,
charm, character, or may even be
rich in history, but it is well
worth the developer's money to run a
bulldozer through it and haul it to
the city dump. Far too often, the
structure is demolished when it can
be a good candidate for an
individual who is looking for a
structure to be moved. Remember,
this structure may be 2 or 102 years
old. Age and condition are often
negligible variables in this
The house or structure does not
justify the cost of keeping it
because it may not meet city, state
or federal code where it sits, i.e.,
electrical, parking, wheel chair
accessibility, fire code, square
footage, or floor plan.
house or structure poses a danger to
the community, or a possible
liability to the real property
house or structure lowers the real
property value by the amount of
money required to demolish it.
facade or appearance does not fit
existing trends or "theme
requirements." It just “looks
house or structure finds itself to
be the property of a city,
university, governmental or river
Reason Four: The House or
Structure is "A Good Deal"
The house or
structure to be moved can often be a result
of reason three (To Clear the Land).
It is important to note, however,
that each individual candidate house
to be moved, like each individual
person wanting a candidate
structure, is different. People may
base their decision on someone
else's experience good or bad. For
example, a good deal for the
first-time home buyer who happens to
be a remodel carpenter, may not
necessarily he a good deal for a
real estate speculator or vice
versa. What makes structural
recycling a good deal, typically, is
the ever-increasing cost of new
It is not uncommon for a quality
house or structure to be purchased,
delivered, blocked and leveled for
anywhere from 10.00 to 25.00 dollars
per foot. Please be aware that there
are many variables in these
equations. Examples of A Good Deal:
||1) Cost -
construction is often
cost-prohibitive due to building
||2) Price -
A house or structure may be
discovered that can be purchased
through trade or inexpensively.
Property Owner - An individual
may own a real property in need of a
house and have little cash or
“Do-It-Yourselfer” - An
individual who has do-it-yourself
skills or attitude can find a house
or structure in need of repair.
Owner - A businessperson whose
business, or place of business can
be improved, if not made by a
wonderful old house. “New
construction just will not do.” Some
examples are: Bed And Breakfast
establishments, Antique Stores,
legal, dental or medical offices in
historic towns or big cities.
A real estate
speculator with an immediate equity
situation (land + structure =
||7) Love for
Quality - An individual who
prioritizes charm and character, but
does not have a budget for
sometimes-expensive fixture details
can often find what they’re looking
for in recycled structures.
For example, glass doorknobs, wood
floors, high ceilings, high gables,
choice lumbers, and quality
workmanship are often found in older
structures. It is for these
discerning individuals that
structural recycling can be the best
deal of all.
WHAT DO I LOOK FOR IN A HOUSE TO BE
setting out on the search for a
house or structure to be moved, a
scope within which to begin a search
should be set down on paper. For
example, if the intended move were
to a city, the lot's size and
configuration would be one factor
dictating the final decision.
Accordingly, the width of the road
immediately approaching the
destination should be considered.
The width of the approach, as well
as what sticks up and hangs down on
that approach may dictate the size
of the candidate house or structure
to be moved. One solution to a
narrow road may be an even larger
house or structure cut in two.
Establish a scope
or range for your search (type, age,
style, size or shape). Be aware of
true negatives and false negatives:
Seals - Anywhere concrete
meets wood, a rotted seal may exist.
Quite often, a porch, add-on, or
concrete slab abuts the structure.
Almost always, this situation traps
water, thereby rotting the seals.
Many structural movers prefer to
replace the seals before re-blocking
the structure at its new location.
An individual may wish to obtain the
material for replacing the seals,
and ask their house mover to include
that process in the bid. Rotted
seals should not be intimidating. In
fact, it should be an expected
expense in moving a home or
structure. Far too often, people
mistake rotted seals for a
structural problem that cannot be
- Sagging floors are one of the most
misunderstood characteristics of the
structure to be moved. An
“off level” structure is
condemned as irreparable and
worthless, ironically by both buyer
and seller. An old house is not dead
and rigid, but living and breathing.
Remember that the candidate house is
going to be blocked and leveled when
it arrives at its new location. Do
investigate why the candidate
structure is out of level. Yes,
there will be some cracking in sheet
rock or plaster on ceilings and
walls when the structure is picked
up and loaded. Nevertheless,
"sagging floors" or the out-of-level
house should not be overlooked as a
candidate house or structure to be
3) Slab House
- "Can I move a slab house?" Yes. A
house or structure with a concrete
slab foundation can be moved. While
some structural movers prefer not to
move slab foundation structures,
other structural movers specialize
in moving “slab houses”. For
slab house can be picked up, moved,
and put down on a pre-plumbed, newly
poured slab foundation at the new
slab house can be picked up off the
slab, and a new wooden “floor” and
sub-floor can be built under the
slab house can be picked up, slab
and all, moved a short distance, and
put back down at a new location.
any case, the costs of a new floor,
a new slab, and/or location
preparations need to be figured into
the move. It needs to be determined
if it is cost justified to recycle
the slab house. Since one is
typically dealing with a more modern
structure, which may have many
existing amenities, the slab house
can be one of the highest and
fastest equity yielding developments
in structural recycling today.
4) The Box
House - An older house
that was not framed with 2x4 studs
in its interior and/or exterior
walls, but rather, was built with
1x12 planks is a boxed structure. In
some house movers’ opinions, a box
structure was in fact structurally
sounder than a frame house. Some
house movers would prefer not to
move a box structure. Insulating the
box structure should be one variable
to consider. The box structure will
often have no “dead air” or “inner
wall” space for certain types of
insulation material. The buyer needs
to be aware that the box house may
be anything from a primitive
two-room cabin, to a three story
Queen Anne Victorian. Some of the
most fabulous structures that have
been recycled were box structures
The racked house is out of level and
twisted. House movers can use a
technique with their trucks and/or
cables remove most, if not all of
the “rack” from an old house.
Further, there are carpentry
techniques that can at least
cosmetically hide the majority of
the appearance of the “rack.” This
is an issue for your local house
House - A house or
structure with a brick exterior can
be moved, although the brick
exterior may have to be removed
before relocating the structure. A
buyer may wish to recycle some of
the old brick as an exterior wall
cover when the structure arrives at
the new location. However, new brick
may be less expensive to use
depending on each individual
situation, that is: labor vs.
material. Any number of new or
used exterior wall cover materials
may be used instead of the original
brick. Brick houses, like solid
masonry structures, have also been
moved intact. Individuals must judge
what is cost-justified for their
CAN YOU MOVE A TWO-STORY HOUSE?
houses and structures are moved all
the time, in different ways,
according to their structure.
One way is to remove the roof,
transport it separately, then put it
back on once it reaches its final
destination. Another way is by
using suspension. Suspension
is a technique by which the upper
portion of the two story upright
structure is cut horizontally
between the first story ceiling and
the second story floor, then
suspended in mid-air with a crane or
team of pole tucks. The bottom
portion of the structure is then
driven out from the top portion.
Some structural movers prefer not to
do suspension moves, while other
companies do suspension moves quite
often. Depending on the individual
situation, a local house mover of
the buyer’s choice will be able to
offer more information on such a
HOW FAR IS TOO FAR TO MOVE A HOUSE?
been moved cross-country on trucks,
floated on barges, and airlifted
with a cargo helicopter. If money is
not an issue, there is a structural
mover that can and will relocate the
structure. Therefore, the question
is not, "How far is too far?"
Rather, "How much is too much?"
Distance is but one of several
variables in the structural mover's
bid. Long distance moves can be more
expensive. Bare in mind, however,
there are instances when a structure
moved across the street has cost
many times greater than one being
moved across town. Distance is
typically only one of the shifting
variables in the cost of relocating
a house or structure.
IS TOO BIG?
structures have been moved:
Multi-story hotels, lighthouses,
bowlers, ships and water towers. One
might ask, "How much is too much?"
The larger the structure moved, the
larger the remodeling cost (there is
the move itself, more wire, more
paint, more roof, more work, etc.)
Typically speaking, the larger the
structure the higher the final cost.
Homework should be done; time and
money should be prioritized when
figuring the initial budget.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO MOVE A
house or structure is different with
its own degree of cost and
difficulty. Most bids are priced by
the “square foot”, though a house
mover may choose to charge by the
mile. The majority of a house
mover's bid is estimating the cost
of getting the structure prepared,
out of where it is, and into where
it is going. Variables that may
affect a house mover's bid are as
long distance moves can be more
expensive, depending on the
Moving Costs -
Ever-increasing costs of insurance,
permit and other requirements, i.e.,
tools, fuel, power line assistance,
moves are permitted only at certain
times of night or day. House moving
can be “seasonal” in some areas.
With this in mind, certain times of
the year are very busy for house
movers, depending on the weather.
Structure size -
Typically speaking, the bigger the
structure, the bigger the price.
Cuts - The structure that must
be cut (a cut often means an
individual move for each section) is
generally more expensive. Thus, more
permits, trucks, time etc.
Structure Type affecting labor -
For example, a
brick structure may require the
removal of its brick exterior. A log
cabin may need to be braced and
banded with a branding machine. The
slab house, the metal frame house
etc. may require more labor and
Inner City Moves -
other variables, the mover may
travel 10 miles to move a structure
2 city blocks.
Structure Height -
speaking, the taller the structure,
the higher the price.
Chimneys and fireplaces - It is
likely that masonry will need to be
removed before the structure can be
moved, thus increasing the labor
HOW DO I BUY MY HOUSE TO BE MOVED?
be done before picking a subject
house. A budget should include
remodeling costs, connection costs
(of utilities), etc. A checklist of
suggested questions to ask and have
answers for follows:
house mover seen the house? If so,
what was his opinion?
is the seller's relationship with
the seller is not the owner, what is
their relationship with the owner?
The seller's motive may give at
least some insight into pricing.
house mover given a "general bid"?
(x number of dollars within x number
of miles, if no particular extras
do they want to move the house or
structure? The reason for moving may
give you insight into how fast it
has to be moved, and/or the reason
for the structure's high or low
long has the structure been on the
the candidate house to be moved been
on the market before? If yes, why
did the house not sell the first
time? Who removed it from the
market? Will it be removed again? If
so, has the price gone up or down?
has it not been moved already?
the house have any negatives or
problems that you know of?
much time do I have to move the
house? (The less time the less the
"rain days" be added to the time
period in the event of an agreement?
A house mover may loose three days
from his present move schedule for
every one day of rain. Also
regardless of rain at the
structure's location, rain at his
present job location can cause a
the house been moved before?
If yes, this can give you at least a
starting place on move costs.
Once these questions have been
answered, if possible, do the
||Take photos of the
candidate house or structure to be
moved.Take measurements of the
candidate house or structure
(length, width, & height if
possible) Note: Measure in two
parts for a T - shaped or L-shaped
structure.Walk through the structure
at least twice. Check for any code or
“conformity” regulation at the
destination for the structure to be
moved. For example, size minimum,
exterior, curbs, driveways, etc.
Start with subdivision and
city. Regardless of the candidate
house or structure to be moved, do a
cost study. What does the
destination spot need? For example,
clearing the land, well or city
water connections, power, sewage or
septic, base material, pad, blocks
and pads, piers and beams, downed
fences, trees cut etc. The purchase
price of the structure is typically
but a fraction of the total cost of
the finished project. Get bids from
plumbers, painters, electricians,
carpenters etc. Also, price the
materials to be used in any
remodeling. Inspection - Thoroughly
go under the structure, go into the
attic or send a carpenter. Inspect
walls, floors, ceilings, roof etc.
HOW DO I SELL MY HOUSE OR STRUCTURE
TO BE MOVED?
Far too often,
owners fail in their attempt to rid
themselves of an unwanted
structure. In these instances, the
problem usually lies with that
individual and not the unwanted
structure. First, ask the house
mover if the candidate house or
structure warrants moving. Have a
checklist of questions ready for the
house mover, including his general
bid price. Do not insist on meeting
the house mover at the location of
the candidate structure unless he
suggests it. Be quick to allow him
to go by the house at his
convenience. Quite often the house
mover will be familiar with the
area, if not the structure itself.
Most importantly, be clear on all
intentions and a time frame. It is
not uncommon for a house mover to
need six weeks, if not more, to
begin working on a structure. There
are many more old houses than there
are old house movers.
Keep in mind, if in fact the primary
objective is to avoid a costly
demolition, trading the house for
its removal may be the best option.
Trading a house to a house mover, in
exchange for its removal is not
unheard of - especially when time is
of the essence. Alternatively, if
the structure warrants it, and there
is plenty of time, charging a price
for the structure to be moved is
completely acceptable. It seems that
the value of structures to be moved
is increasing everyday – due
primarily to the ever-increasing
demand for housing and the
ever-increasing cost of new building
Here is a list
of suggestions for the serious
seller. These suggestions are the
result of much trial and error.
Suggestion # 1 Process photos.
photos, before, during and up to the
removal of the structure.
Suggestion # 2 Clean the
People look at
wires hanging down, rat pellets or
old dirty mattresses. Remove or roll
up old carpet; it will need
replacing anyway. Often there are
beautiful wood floors under ugly old
Suggestion # 3 Light up the
electricity is off, take down
curtains, blinds or boards. People
don't buy what they can't see.
Suggestion # 4 Open the
prospects to view the structure at
their own schedule. If you feel it
necessary, open it in the mornings,
then lock it up at night. People
won't buy it if they can't get into
Suggestion # 5 Measure the
Length x width
will give you approximate square
footage. Prospects will ask you this
question many times over.
Suggestion # 6 Measure the
approximate measurement at the
highest point of the structure, if
possible. Measuring a pole and
holding the pole up to the highest
point on the structure can do this.
Suggestion #7 Be cooperative.
Be as helpful
as possible, especially with the
house mover. Do not try to load the
house mover up with non-moving
related tasks. Be ready and willing
to allow your prospective buyers to
tear off sheet rock, peel up carpet,
climb in the attic, poke holes in
the walls and go under the
structure. People won't buy what
they can't see.
Suggestion # 8 Bid
Get a general
bid from your local house mover to
give you a starting point on pricing
your structure. A general bid
answers the question, "How much
money to move the house within a 20
mile radius, if there are no
Suggestion # 9 Scheduling
Do not insist
on meeting every prospective buyer
at the candidate house or structure.
This is a common mistake. Allow your
prospective buyer to view the
structure according to their
schedule, not yours. If you meet
them at the location, wait outside.
If they have questions, they will
ask you. If they don't have
questions, they're not buyers.
Suggestion #10 Trade the
structure to a house mover.
unwanted structure to a house mover
in exchange for removal. Do not be
discouraged if the mover does not
want the structure. It is probable
that he is offered houses every day.
Suggestion # 11 Sell the
structure to an individual.
important, when dealing with the
public to be sure the prospective
buyer has the following:
• The money to pay the mover
• Time enough for the mover to move
• Land, or a place to temporarily
"stack" the structure. It is hard to
move a house when you have no place
• Keep in mind, everyone wants a
house at sometime or another and may
go to any length to get one. This
includes getting a little bit ahead
Suggestion #12 Advertise.
You may wish to
place an ad in your local newspaper.
If you live in a small town or rural
America, you might place your ad in
the nearest large city.
Suggestion # 13 Price.
candidate structure can often result
in lost time and the demolition cost
one set out to avoid in the first
place. Here are some variables you
may wish to consider when pricing
your house or structure to be moved.
These four variables, plus, your
price should fall well enough under
• Move cost
• Remodel cost
• Foundation cost
• Time period (less time, lower
Suggestion # 14 Take bids.
This process is
more common of state, local/federal
government, university or other
public entities. You may wish to
seek legal advice regarding this
WHERE DO I FIND A HOUSE OR STRUCTURE
TO BE MOVED?
perceive a house to be moved as a
once in a lifetime event, an anomaly
or rarity. Not true. Someone
somewhere is moving a house every
day. Many are speculators that have
moved a half dozen structures or
more. For the individual with an
open mind and a trained eye,
structures to be moved can be found
everywhere. Here are just a few
suggestions as to where and how to
find a structure to be moved.
1) A local
house mover may offer you a package
deal of one or several structures;
delivered, blocked and leveled.
2) "Yards" or
movers have a resale.
Many large city newspapers have a
"Houses to be moved" section in
their classified ad section.
or excavation companies:
Far too often
these companies know of structures
churches find themselves in receipt
of a donated property with a
structure they have neither the
resource nor the inclination to do
anything with. Also, on occasion, a
church will have an unwanted
structure on an adjacent real
property that they need cleared for
parking or a newer, more usable
Universities and School Districts:
universities remove structures
frequently for expansion.
7) Farms and
Ranches sometimes have old
homesteads being used for hay,
storage, or nothing at all. You may
turn up a rare or historical
structure, as well as perform a
service to the farmer or rancher. As
rural towns become suburbanized,
many individuals want to remove a
structure from the tax rolls.
print a periodic list of unwanted
houses/structures to be moved or
9) Tax Rolls:
The county or
school tax roll might assist you in
locating owners of unwanted houses
Quite often where there is a zoning
change, a structure will find itself
in the way of progress.
number of structures may be greater
than the population.
Take a Sunday
drive, looking for abandoned or
13) Areas of
A town/area of
town where market demand does not
warrant renovating an old house.
14) Areas of
Cities or areas
of cities that arc in a development
Look in the
Public Notice Section of your
newspaper's classified ads.
They are a
front line industry for locating
structures to be moved.