a house rarely a smooth move
What do you think about buying a low-cost home
and moving it to your location? I've seen homes for sale for as little
as $2,000 just because they need to be moved. -- Chris
I've seen them for as little as $1! And there's
good reason. There are so many expenses, nuances, variables, headaches
and caveats to moving a house that I scarcely know where to start.
Often, total costs can run as high as the price of a nice new-construction
If it's an 1,800 square-foot house you're moving,
it will probably cost you at least $20,000 to $30,000 in base moving
expenses, or roughly $12 to $16 per square foot. Of course, that
figure doesn't include the land you will still need at the new site,
the new foundation, and the inevitable repairs and renovations.
(Wiring and plumbing will often require replacement.)
Sometimes, foundations on older homes don't always
match up with what's on the old blueprints. Surprise! Additionally,
some municipalities may require you to bring the house up to building
code at its new locale, unless it's an historic home that you're
saving from the wrecking ball.
Also realize the house-moving process can take days.
The walls have to be secured, the house must be removed
from its foundation and placed on a trailer or oversized dollies,
then moved very slowly, probably in the wee hours of morning, often
at about walking pace, through tree-lined and car-lined streets.
That can be especially perilous and complex if your "new"
house is two-stories tall, in which case power/cable/phone lines
may need to be lifted and neighborhood tree limbs may need to be
shorn. (This won't make you too many friends if chain saws are buzzing
on people's trees at 2 a.m. some Sunday morning.) Needless to say,
the shorter and clearer the route, the less expensive to move.
Some larger houses even need to be cut into pieces
or at least have their roofs removed to be moved safely. This gets
But wait. There's more. The homes in the neighborhood
where you're moving the house to should be reasonably compatible
with it in size, age and design. Some neighbors may have objections
to an old house moving into a new subdivision. In some cases, you
will need to get their consent. Call your city's planning department
for all the details.
And make sure you find a reputable mover with a multitude
of references and no unresolved disputes with past customers. Check
to see that the firm has adequate bonding and insurance. The mover
should also be able to give you a realistic checklist of everything
you'll need to do to prepare for the move and what you'll need to
have in place, such as groundwork and utility hookups, when your
house reaches its destination.
What drives the sale of these uniquely cheap homes,
particularly in areas where real estate is inflated, is the disparity
between the value of the building (low in your case) and land value
(probably high in your case). The difference can be so drastic that
giving away a house makes sense, especially if the seller has a
future development in mind for the same parcel and wants to escape
the cost of demolition, which can run $6 or more per square foot.
Now, you are forewarned. What I haven't noted is that
sometimes these moves actually make sense if you can snag a home
in good shape with the type of classic workmanship that's unavailable
in new homes today, and put it where you want it. Good luck. You
may need it!