Ultimate Recycling: Relocating a House

Relocating a house is the ultimate kind of recycling. Move a house to a new location, and you’ll not only save resources, but will also potentially save money.


| August/September 2013



Moving A House

Bring your dream home to your dream plot of land by buying and relocating a house.


Photo By Dreamstime/Larry Jordan

Watching a large house roll down the road on a truck is enough to make most of us do a double take. We tend to think of houses as being stable and stationary. With the right equipment, though, almost any house can be moved to a new location. Relocating a house is recycling on the largest scale many of us can achieve, and in addition to saving resources, this option may save you money, too.

Buying and moving a house is a possibility for anyone who finds the perfect piece of land that doesn’t include the perfect house. This scenario is especially common for homesteaders — if you’re interested in gardening, farming or raising animals, you’ll probably have to look long and hard to find land that meets your needs. Odds are not high of also getting a good house with the land you choose.

Houses are torn down all the time to make way for new highways, suburban developments or large institutions, such as an expanding hospital or university. These buildings are often sold for a song — or given away — on the condition that they’re moved off the property. The catch is that you have to pay to move a house, and even if you already own the land, you’ll have to figure in the costs of a new foundation, plumbing, utility hookups, and any other amenities. Still, moving a house can make financial sense.

Regardless of whether financial savings are your main priority, choosing an existing house is a significant way to reduce your environmental impact, because you’ll use far fewer new materials than you would if you built a new house. You may also be able to find a house with higher-quality wood and other materials than you’d likely be able to get in new construction. Or perhaps the reason you want to move a house is purely nostalgic — you’ve fallen for the charms of an older home and want to preserve it.

That was the case for Glenn and Denise Bowman. In 2006, they bought a home that was built in about 1840 and moved it to a rural property in Clarksville, Md. The house had been a fixture in their community, but it was on land owned by an auto dealership whose owners wanted to expand their business. If the house wasn’t moved, it was going to be demolished.

After falling in love with the house, the Bowmans just couldn’t let that happen. So, working through a local historic preservation organization, the couple got in touch with the building’s owners and bought it for a bargain price of $1, just enough to make it an official sale. The cost to relocate the house 3 miles was much higher — about $55,000 just for the move. That’s at the high end of what people pay for a move, mainly because the house was a three-story structure. The Bowmans say their decision to save this home has definitely been worth it — they’re enjoying restoring their house, and have blogged about it at 12 Hills. “We’re in it for the joy of it,” Glenn says. “It’s the house we want to raise our kid in.”

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