Moving a House

If buying or building new is too costly and an abandoned or unwanted property in good condition is available for a song, you could consider moving a house to your lot.

| September/October 1973

  • 023-028-01-Movable-House
    TOP: The house at it's original location. BOTTOM: The house situated on its new lot and none the worse for the trip.

  • 023-028-01-Movable-House

Our North Dakota homestead is just ten miles from the Canadian line and, when we moved "in", there was no house on the small farm. We needed a residence that would withstand those long, severe winters when temperatures of 40 below are not uncommon. We also wanted electricity and indoor plumbing. You can call us chicken for that last requirement ... but have you ever used an outhouse when you had to look up to see zero on the thermometer?

Anyway, there we were trying to stretch some sort of home out of a severely limited budget. The situation appeared impossible. Then, just when we were about to give up trying, a friend suggested we buy a nearby house that was for sale and move it to our property.

As crazy as the idea seemed, it worked. The five-room, wood frame, insulated building—complete with storm windows, screens, cupboards, carpeting in two rooms and linoleum in the other three, modern wiring, two porches, curtains and a kitchen sink—cost us only $900. The moving charges came to $375. Since the house needed no repair and was complete and ready to live in, we had few of the expenses associated with building. The ole budget not only covered the purchase price and transportation charges ... but the construction of a basement for our "new" home too!

Bargain, Movable Houses are Everywhere

I'm not saying that ours is the only or always the most economical way to solve a shelter problem ... but it certainly worked for us. Even now, I have difficulty believing we obtained such a fine building for so small an investment. Of perhaps of even more interest (from your point of view) is the fact that our bargain housing was definitely no "iffy", one-of-a-kind fluke. Solid, older, movable homes are available at extremely reasonable cost all over this continent. Many are priced much lower than the small amount we paid for ours.

Some may even be had for the asking ... or, should I say, "the moving".

Where and What to Look For

Once you've had your eyes opened to the possibilities, you'll probably be as surprised as we were at the number of abandoned homes in the United States and Canada (especially in rural areas). Look for the older small farms that have been consolidated into a single "agribiz" giant ... thereby making one or more whole sets of houses, barns, and outbuildings superfluous. There are often good buys in villages ... especially the backwater, sleepy, dying kind. And don't forget that people often build a new house merely to have more or less living space, not because the old one is worn out: when you spot replacement construction, ask the builder what he intends to do with the older home.

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