Under certain conditions you might consider having a house picked up from its foundation and moved to another location. When would this come into play and is it economically feasible?
History in the moving. The historical significance of a house often plays a major role in whether it is considered for relocation. For example, there may be an old farmhouse that was once home to a prominent family that now sits in the way of a new freeway, shopping center or subdivision. Oftentimes, the developer, local or state government or historical societies will step in to finance such a move to save the house and preserve local history.
Saving costs/saving materials. Another scenario involves so-called “tear downs” in desirable neighborhoods. The home is purchased with the intention of tearing it down and building a new home. To save on demolition costs, the new owner may offer to sell the house for a token amount — often $1 — to someone who agrees to move it. In essence, the home is recycled, saving reusable materials from ending up in the landfill.
An expensive endeavor. Whatever the reason, moving a home is costly. The base cost to move a house is about $15 per square foot. Several other factors may come into play to raise that price. The distance of the move adds cost — as do obstacles along the path. If the house must pass under trees and powerlines, go around underpasses, over railroad tracks and other impediments, the move will cost more. Utility companies charge hefty fees to temporarily raise wires for a house that is being moved, and the owner will also be responsible for the cost of trimming trees along the route.
Brick houses are more expensive to move than those with wood or composite siding. A brick chimney may need to be taken off and rebuilt. The final cost to move a home may exceed $60,000. Yet this still can be substantially under the cost of building new.
Preparations and permits. Before the move, owners must receive permits from governmental authorities. Start with municipal authorities, who will guide you through the maze of county, state and federal approvals necessary. If the house has a mortgage, the lender also must be notified. Just before the move, hire specialists to disconnect plumbing, gas and electrical lines. It’s also helpful to provide the moving company with blueprints of the house, if available. Finally, a new foundation must be constructed at the new site.
Making the move. Professional house movers will lift the house by creating holes in the foundation on each side and sliding in steel beams spanning the width and length of the house. They will jack up the house, position dollies underneath and lower the house onto the dollies. Then, the house will be towed at about 15 miles per hour to its new location where it will be lowered onto its new foundation.
Used house dealers. If you think you might like to buy a house and move it, you may be able to save a step. Some house-moving companies actually buy houses scheduled for demolition, move them and offer them for sale.
Significant savings? Buying and moving a house can save about 40 percent of the cost of building a new house. However, this does not include any renovation costs.