House Moving: Find and Relocate Your Dream Home

When highway developments overtook her parents' property and rendered the family home "uninhabitable," MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader Joyce Hetrick had the house lifted and moved to another location 30 miles away.

| June 13, 2013

If you’ve found that ideal (empty) plot of land but the idea of starting from scratch with new construction seems like an impossible feat, or likewise, if your dream home is in a less-than-favorable location, you might consider moving — moving a house, that is.

Houses are regularly sold “to be moved.” The houses to be moved are usually dislocated by urban “improvements” or highway-widening projects. These houses go for as little as $1,000. Professional house-moving companies sometimes buy them to resell. Then they will move it for you. Houses are also advertised "for sale to be moved.”

You need to take a few things to take into account before you buy one, though. First, consider the location of the land versus the house’s original location. Moving a house very far distances is quite expensive. Also, consider the roads over which the house must travel. Many country highways have small, high-sided bridges over which the house must be able to pass. Power lines and other obstacles such as road signs can usually be moved out of the way.

We were fortunate enough to inherit 120 lovely acres about 30 miles from a reasonably nice little community in central Arkansas. My mom had lived about six miles east of the town for several years in a four-bedroom, three-bath, ranch-style house. Because of the urban flight from the larger city of Little Rock, the town had grown at about 14 to 20 percent per year, so eventually highway-widening projects reached out and overtook my mom's house. Actually, the developers didn't take the house itself — they seized half of the half-acre lot, which left them less than the required amount of land for a septic system, thus rendering the house uninhabitable. The highway department bought an easement for the land, but actually left the house in place.

My folks then built a new home on the ancestral acres. My first thought was to tear the older house down and salvage the materials to build us a residence on the farm as well. My mom suggested that we see about moving the house. My reaction was, “You can't move it; it's on a slab!” She insisted that I check with the largest house-moving company in Arkansas to see if it could be done.

Well, as usual, Mom was right — a house on a slab can be moved, slab and all. In our house's case, the slab wasn't thick enough, but not all was lost. In 1994, the movers cut the house frame from the slab, raised up, put a new floor under it and then moved it. This, of course, increased the price of moving the house.

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