What Can Move
“The style of the home doesn’t much matter,” Donald says. “We can even move brick houses.” The big issues are the condition of a structure (forget about moving a termite-riddled house) and how many low-hanging power lines are in the way.
The team starts by threading beams under the house and, if necessary, cutting the structure into pieces that will fit on the road. Crews lift the house inch by inch, using jacks, until it’s high enough to slide onto a truck bed. Depending on the length and path of travel, sometimes there is another transfer to a barge.
At the new site, the house is positioned but left on the beams while a new foundation is built underneath. It is then lowered into place, utilities are installed, and any wounds from the move are patched. From there, updating the house is like any other remodeling job.
The Green Effect
Donald sees his job as saving forests. “Every 1,200 square feet of house we save means about 2 acres of trees don’t have to be cut down,” he says. It also means less building materials in a landfill. There’s historical value to preservation too.
Find a Mover
Visit the website of the International Association of Structural Movers (iasm.org) for a listing of housemoving companies by state.
More than 10,000 homes are moved every year in the United States, says N. Eugene Brymer, the editor of Structural Mover magazine, an industry publication.
Prices start around $14 per square foot for the move and a new foundation. If a house is on a concrete slab, the price goes up to at least $35 per square foot because the crew needs to move the house and the slab. With costs for new construction in Florida averaging around $84 per square foot, moving a house can make good economic sense, even when factoring in renovation costs.