Perfect house, wrong location – it’s an all too familiar story. Right size, low price, original features; if only you could pick it up and move it somewhere else. Well, you can.
This is the real meaning of moving house, literally picking it up and moving it, and all of its contents. It sounds simple enough, but many involved in this extreme side of the home removals industry can testify that this process is a minefield of logistical headaches.
First off is the question of cost. Most house moves will run up a cost of $12-$16 per square foot, but this is just the starting price. Financials can rise exponentially if the house is heavy due to construction from brick and stone, if it’s tall or wide, or even if the route from old location to new location is complicated. This doesn’t even take into consideration the cost of any new land, refitting utilities, renovations and new foundations. Ultimately it might just be cheaper to build a new house. Some large houses have to be divided or have their roof removed. Roads with curves and sharp bends, power lines, bridges and underpasses are all obstacles. Many towns also have restrictions on when these house moves can take place, often during the week and after dark.
Yet, despite the high prices and the intensive logistical planning, physically moving a house, or any other building, can be incredibly rewarding. Houses with period features difficult to replicate can make a happy home once more. Buildings at risk of flooding or in danger from other elements can be moved or simply raised. The Belle Tout lighthouse in East Sussex, England was saved from disappearing into the English Channel after the cliff face was eroded. The distance between the lighthouse and the cliff edge has now gone from just a few feet to 50m. It’s a form of recycling, saving many buildings from demolition and landfill.
The beauty of a house move, however, lies in the skill of the experts. They have the physical move of a house down to an exact science. Often, not a single piece of furniture has to leave the main body of the house. There have even been stories of pets sleeping through the entire move and open soda cans being left on the floor by the removals company without spilling a single drop. After clearing several meters of room around the house, its foundations are exposed and openings are made. Into these openings, the removals company inserts a series of steel beams, which bear the overall weight of the house. Wooden cribs are also added to distribute the weight further and support the house inside. Finally a hydraulic jacking system is used to raise the home from the foundations, so that it can be placed onto special dollies. The jacks are all unified through a central control system to ensure that the house remains level at all times. At the new location, the house remains raised on the jacks until the new foundation is ready.
It might be an expensive option when relocating, but physically moving a building from one location to another can have some serious advantages. Preserving history, defending structures from the elements or economically recycling properties are all worthwhile reasons to consider the real meaning of moving house.