Here’s How To Literally Move a House to Another Location

published May 28, 2022
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Vintage house being moved
Credit: Capital Area Preservation, Inc

When Claire Zinnecker, the lead designer and owner at Claire Zinnecker Design in Austin, Texas, decided to move her entire house, it’s because she didn’t have a choice. She first saw a Facebook listing with an outlined understanding in it that the house itself would need to be moved once bought because developers had purchased the land underneath it. The 1897 single-story home was too perfect to pass up, so Zinnecker bought it for $15,000 and set out on the journey to move her house. Here’s what she wants you to know.

It helps to have land already.

When she moved her home, Zinnecker already owned a piece of land. She had planned to build a yurt on it, but once she saw the house, the yurt plan went out the window. The plot out in the country was perfect for her new building.

“It didn’t have power, septic, well or anything,” Zinnecker says of her land, so she had to get it all set up on the property before moving into the house.

Know your costs ahead of time.

For Zinnecker, the home listing had an estimate for how much it would cost to move the building: $30,000. The listing even recommended a mover, who she vetted with other people that had previously moved homes. But she neglected to figure out the extra costs beforehand.

“I probably would have had a more set idea of a floor plan and gotten bids on a new roof, new electrical, and new plumbing before I even moved it,” she says. If you plan to do this type of move, she advises you do the same “just so you know what you’re getting into before you dive in.”

Her total costs far exceeded the estimate. She paid $15,000 for the house; $34,000 for the move itself (because of an extra porch she wanted to keep); $45,000 for the foundation on the new land; and extra for a new roof and the utilities hookups. You also may need or want to pay for insurance for the structure itself during the move.

It’s a big operation.

Zinnecker’s move took two weeks total. First, the mover came out and looked at the house and the land it was moving to. He mapped out a path from point A to point B, considering roads and power lines.

Then he got down to the nitty-gritty. The mover had to remove the entire roof, as it had five layers already and wouldn’t be feasible to put back on. He looked under the house to see how all the floorboards came together in order to maintain the most structural integrity within the house, and then added more structural bracing inside. He removed the existing foundation. And then, he cut the house in half.

The house halves were put up on I-beams and loaded onto a truck. He had gotten a permit to close the street, so he was able to move the home without traffic and with a police escort, but it did take two days to get to the new location — with an overnight stop along the way. When they arrived the following day, the house was put in the perfect position (directed by Zinnecker) and a foundation was built underneath it. Finally, the house was placed down onto the foundation.

Don’t be afraid of the process.

Zinnecker says that if she had planned it better, she could have saved a lot more money — but she doesn’t want her experience to scare people off.“I hope those numbers won’t deter people because those are the same numbers you’ll have  if you’re building new,” she says. “It seems like such a daunting thing, but it’s not. Building a new home is daunting too.”