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The Art of Moving a House

olive bleu

One Too Many
Messages
1,667
Location
Nova Scotia
I was very proud of my city of Halifax last week, when it took what i consider the high road by moving a 249 year old house from one end of town to another, despite the fact it took 2 days and a very large wad of money. When I first came here, the history was what i fell in love with, and in the 20 some-odd years since, i can't say I've been happy with every decision made regarding historic properties, but this recent action gives me hope. Hopefully, we will see more of this in our cities. Not only is it important to preserve our history, but it is also a win for environmental reasons. And at least around here, there are no 2 fiercer groups than our heritage societies and our environmentalists. Which is good.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2013/01/26/ns-morris-house-move.html

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olive bleu

One Too Many
Messages
1,667
Location
Nova Scotia
growing up on a pretty isolated island in the North Atlantic, I witnessed houses being moved several times. Not overland , but floated on water, from one community to another. There were no professional movers to call on, so you would just have to round up a group of sturdy men, and a boat. There would be the names of men that would always come up as being experienced in house moving, and on the appointed day people would come from the surrounding communities to help or just to watch.

This picture is from my home community, i believe it is from the 40's.

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Atticus Finch

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,717
Location
Coastal North Carolina, USA
I've had an apple out of that sack. I didn't move my house horizontially, but we did move it vertically...using the same technology that was used in the first post above.

When you see the house moving process actually unfold, you can't help but be amazed. I bought my little house on the Trent River in 1998...just ten months before Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd flooded all of North Carolina's coastal rivers and almost totally destroyed my new home. I rebuilt the house but I resolved to eventually raise it above the five hundred year flood level…if I could ever save enough money to do so.

Long story short, in 2006…after sweating out six more hurricane seasons…we finally raised the house. Here is greatly condensed photo essay showing the process. First, the movers placed huge steel beams and hydraulic jacks beneath the floor. This required the total destruction of everything under the house including the plumbing, heating ducts and existing foundation. Then, using a large instrument that looked like a pipe organ, they raised the jacks in unison. The house was then blocked into position and a new higher foundation was built beneath it.

We recently added another section to the house and this is how it looks now...hopefully safe at twenty-one feet above the average level of the River.

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AF
 
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Messages
10,393
Location
My mother's basement
Cool. Few sights are more memorable than a house moving down the road. As a one-time night owl, I witnessed a few. (The actual moving is typically done at night, when taking up the whole darned road and taking down wires and all of that causes less disruption.)

Several years ago I wrote a story (for a community newspaper) on a new elementary school built on the site of one that had been there for about a century. An elderly reader called to tell me that building the original school structure involved moving a house a block or so away. She knew this because that house had been her family home, and was moved before she was born. The old gal passed along a photo of the place on its original site (with a windmill in the background and a couple standing in front), which I in turn passed along to the house's current owner, who had been unaware of that part of her home's history.

I got the sense that the old woman wished to visit her old home again, but felt it somehow improper to ask that directly. I mentioned this to the current owner (who was fascinated by the photo and the story that came along with it), and forwarded to her the old woman's contact information. That was the last I heard of any of it.

A fellow who knows a thing or two about local history told me that moving houses wasn't at all unusual back a century ago, when there was still plenty of open land nearby and few overhead wires in the way, and when those structures themselves were still fairly new. Moving a house a block or two was considerably cheaper and easier than building a new one. These days, it might be a very different calculation.

A few years ago a friend sold a house, a one-story modernist structure which his family had outgrown, to a buyer who built a new house on the site. But rather than demolish the existing structure the new property owner sold the house to someone who cut it in half and moved it over the roads and via barge to an island in Puget Sound. I was left with the impression that the structure's low profile and its relative proximity to the shore made the whole thing pencil out.
 
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LizzieMaine

Bartender
Messages
32,579
Location
Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
Moving of houses is still very common here. In general, locals will move a house if it's at all feasible -- you see ads all the time for "FREE HOUSE, MUST BE MOVED WITHIN 30 DAYS" and a lot of smart people get good bargains that way. But outastaters -- and especially outastate companies -- will tear an old house down without a blink if it's in their way.
 

Foxer55

A-List Customer
Messages
413
Location
Washington, DC
tonyb,

Several years ago I wrote a story (for a community newspaper) on a new elementary school built on the site of one that had been there for about a century. An elderly reader called to tell me that building the original school structure involved moving a house a block or so away. She knew this because that house had been her family home, and was moved before she was born. The old gal passed along a photo of the place on its original site (with a windmill in the background and a couple standing in front), which I in turn passed along to the house's current owner, who had been unaware of that part of her home's history.

This didn't happen to be in or around Litchfield, Illinois, did it? The one I'm thinking of happened many, many years ago as my young friends and me watched but the story sounds the same.
 
Messages
10,393
Location
My mother's basement
No. This was in the Ballard district of Seattle, where structures older than 1900 are quite rare. There are, however, many, many houses built early in the 20th century throughout the close-in (by modern standards) neighborhoods in the city, as well as in Tacoma and the other "established" cities in the region.

I don't recall when the house in my little story was built, but it may well have been pre-1900. Again, houses of that age are rare around here, but they do exist. When the lovely missus and I were shopping for a new place, a little over three years ago, one of the houses we checked out dated from 1880-something, which would make it among the oldest structures in town (Olympia, in this case). But whatever character the place might have had at one time had been "improved" out of it over the years. The place was a real dump, with ill-conceived and poorly executed "upgrades" throughout. Another place we looked into was from the 1890s, and was quite the handsome structure. But it was on a very busy street (a deal-breaker for me).

I am now of sufficient seniority to know what I don't know, and among those things are many basic home maintenance and improvement skills. Unless an older house has been well maintained and professionally updated (wiring, plumbing, HVAC, etc.), I'm not the best person to assume its ownership. I love old buildings, and I'm a big believer in historic preservation, but I know to leave the actual work to those better equipped for such tasks than I'll ever be.
 

Foxer55

A-List Customer
Messages
413
Location
Washington, DC
tonyb,

I am now of sufficient seniority to know what I don't know, and among those things are many basic home maintenance and improvement skills. Unless an older house has been well maintained and professionally updated (wiring, plumbing, HVAC, etc.), I'm not the best person to assume its ownership. I love old buildings, and I'm a big believer in historic preservation, but I know to leave the actual work to those better equipped for such tasks than I'll ever be.

Interesting you say this as I have an old home from the '40s or '50s I want to rebuild and the architect says tear it down and start over. Reason: building and insulation materials of today are far more effective and will contribute to more efficient cost in upkeep and maintenance.
 
Messages
10,393
Location
My mother's basement
Moving of houses is still very common here. In general, locals will move a house if it's at all feasible -- you see ads all the time for "FREE HOUSE, MUST BE MOVED WITHIN 30 DAYS" and a lot of smart people get good bargains that way. But outastaters -- and especially outastate companies -- will tear an old house down without a blink if it's in their way.

So I take it that folks around there have the equipment and knowhow to execute these maneuvers?

From what I've seen, the job itself is pretty darned straightforward. A major undertaking, for sure, and one that isn't entered into casually, but easy enough to understand. You need house jacks and the rolling gear to put under the structure and a big ol' truck and permits and linemen to deal with the overhead wires and, and, and ...
 
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Atticus Finch

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,717
Location
Coastal North Carolina, USA
No. This was in the Ballard district of Seattle, where structures older than 1900 are quite rare.

Interesting. I guess Eastern North Carolina was among the first areas of our nation to be populated by Europeans. The communities that later became Bath, Beaufort and New Bern were settled in the late 1600s and a few structures remain from that era. Homes built in the mid to late 1700s are very common here.

AF

Post edit: Of course, I'm sure our friends from across the pond are reading this and snickering at me calling a home from the 1600s "old". :eek:
 
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Messages
10,393
Location
My mother's basement
tonyb,



Interesting you say this as I have an old home from the '40s or '50s I want to rebuild and the architect says tear it down and start over. Reason: building and insulation materials of today are far more effective and will contribute to more efficient cost in upkeep and maintenance.

I believe all of that is true, but that's not the only consideration, especially in a residential structure, where the occupants come to terms with those "inefficiencies" and learn to accept and love them just the way they are.

While I hate to see large old institutional structures (hospitals, for instance) demolished, I appreciate that operational efficiencies are a major consideration, and the cost and overall inconvenience of retrofitting the old structures, to still end up with a facility that wouldn't be as efficient than what they would have had if they had demolished the old one and started over at scratch, just doesn't make much sense, at least not from a hospital administrator's point of view.

But I ain't a hospital administrator.

A McDonald's restaurant near here was recently demolished. I'm guessing the structure was 20-some years old. On its site a new McDonald's restaurant is going up. Obviously, the spud-counters at McDonald's determined that the operational efficiencies gained in an all-new facility make demolishing what had been a perfectly sound and serviceable structure the "right" thing to do.
 

fashion frank

One Too Many
Messages
1,173
Location
Woonsocket Rhode Island
Moving of houses is still very common here. In general, locals will move a house if it's at all feasible -- you see ads all the time for "FREE HOUSE, MUST BE MOVED WITHIN 30 DAYS" and a lot of smart people get good bargains that way. But outastaters -- and especially outastate companies -- will tear an old house down without a blink if it's in their way.

I'm with you on that one Lizzie ,around here unless the "hysterical " society gets involved and stops someone ,if they think they can get away
with it they will tear it down over moving it.

All the Best ,Fashion Frank
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
Messages
32,579
Location
Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
So I take it that folks around there have the equipment and knowhow to execute these maneuvers?

From what I've seen, the job itself is pretty darned straightforward. A major undertaking, for sure, and one that isn't entered into casually, but easy enough to understand. You need house jacks and the rolling gear to put under the structure and a big ol' truck and permits and linemen to deal with the overhead wires and, and, and ...

Oh yes, most every local around here either has a relative in the building trades or knows someone who does, and they can get hold of the jacks and the trucks to do it without too much trouble. Sometimes if the building has a place in the popular imagination, there'll be a house-moving party and people will volunteer the equipment and the labor to do the move. The key is having the new foundation already dug and poured and ready before you move the house -- you don't want to have it sitting on blocks for a month before you set it, because it'll start to sag -- and that can be deadly to an old house.

I have an eternal grudge against the Rite Aid drug store chain for tearing down a house I lived in in the next town -- despite the fact that it was of historic value and that there was more than enough community interest in relocating it. They just didn't want to be bothered, and fifteen years later I still laugh out loud every time they get robbed.
 
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Foxer55

A-List Customer
Messages
413
Location
Washington, DC
tonyb,

While I hate to see large old institutional structures (hospitals, for instance) demolished, I appreciate that operational efficiencies are a major consideration, and the cost and overall inconvenience of retrofitting the old structures, to still end up with a facility that wouldn't be as efficient than what they would have had if they had demolished the old one and started over at scratch, just doesn't make much sense, at least not from a hospital administrator's point of view.

If you came to a place like DC where I live I think you would see the new approach. It seems as if they put a lot of these business office buildings up about, oh, 30 years ago and now they're tearing them down to start over. I guess they just wear out from all the people traffic and get full of bugs and polution and start falling apart. So, they just knock 'em down and put bigger ones up that are clean, bright, secure, and efficient. Security is another concern with old buildings around here. And they dig some mighty deep holes to put huge 5, 6, 7 layers of parking underneath. It really amazes me when I think of the cost trade-offs. Build a building for $100 million and knock it down 20 years later and build a bigger new one for $400 million. Boy! Lot of money and power trading hands there. The scale of the buildings and the scale of the money is staggering.
 

LoveMyHats2

I’ll Lock Up.
Messages
5,196
Location
Michigan
As a Commercial Builder, I have been hired to relocate a building or two in my day. The most common issues aside from the obvious is to do things slow enough to keep the structure from twisting or buckling. It is very difficult to move a structure without doing damage to walls, ceilings, roofs, windows, etc.

One of my competitors in the business, was hired to move a home....and was given an address of 1227 West, and instead he directed his crew to 1227 East....needless to say the home owners at 1227 East were really mad when they came home to find their house was "gone"....
 

LoveMyHats2

I’ll Lock Up.
Messages
5,196
Location
Michigan
I believe all of that is true, but that's not the only consideration, especially in a residential structure, where the occupants come to terms with those "inefficiencies" and learn to accept and love them just the way they are.

While I hate to see large old institutional structures (hospitals, for instance) demolished, I appreciate that operational efficiencies are a major consideration, and the cost and overall inconvenience of retrofitting the old structures, to still end up with a facility that wouldn't be as efficient than what they would have had if they had demolished the old one and started over at scratch, just doesn't make much sense, at least not from a hospital administrator's point of view.

But I ain't a hospital administrator.

A McDonald's restaurant near here was recently demolished. I'm guessing the structure was 20-some years old. On its site a new McDonald's restaurant is going up. Obviously, the spud-counters at McDonald's determined that the operational efficiencies gained in an all-new facility make demolishing what had been a perfectly sound and serviceable structure the "right" thing to do.

It is a policy for a McDonald's to conform to other existing locations as to how the building looks both inside and out...the same way their food items are to look the same...uniform big mac's to uniform buildings....(can I get some fries to go with that, please)?
 
Messages
10,393
Location
My mother's basement
It is a policy for a McDonald's to conform to other existing locations as to how the building looks both inside and out...the same way their food items are to look the same...uniform big mac's to uniform buildings....(can I get some fries to go with that, please)?

So we can expect to see more fairly recently constructed McDonald's restaurants demolished soon?
 

LoveMyHats2

I’ll Lock Up.
Messages
5,196
Location
Michigan
So we can expect to see more fairly recently constructed McDonald's restaurants demolished soon?

That I cannot answer, but there are a few places "up north" from me that are maybe 6 years old as a building and they have been ripped and rebuilt just this past summer.
 

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