A moving experience: What it really takes to relocate an entire house

“I’ve seen so many different reasons, and it seems like every year you hear a couple more,” said Mike Brovont, lead project estimator at Wolfe House & Building Movers in Pennsylvania.

Historic preservation is a common theme, he said, with historic societies or old-home lovers relocating antique houses to save them from demolition. Moving an old house farther back from the road is a common motivator, too. “Back in the 1800s, early 1900s,” he said, “the road out front was originally just a horse and carriage path, and now it’s a very busy two- or four-lane road.”

Geddes Building Mover raised a historic railroad depot in Wolfeboro, N.H.Jim Paveglio/Geddes Building Mover LLC

And increasingly, as climate change has brought rising sea levels and more severe storms, homeowners are simply moving their houses upward — to higher ground on the same lot or onto a new foundation or pilings that elevate it above the floodplain.

While these companies pair hard work and hydraulics to perform seemingly impossible feats of physics, they are nonetheless limited by more tedious realities — such as stoplights and geography, especially in the hilly and densely settled Northeast.

Just as Storrow Drive is no place for moving trucks, there’s no squeezing a two-story house under a typical overpass, for example, and overhead obstacles — from electric wires to trees to traffic lights — can make longer moves impractical or impossible. (That’s one reason a couple in Newfoundland, Canada, moved an old home slated for demolition not by land, but by sea — floating it across the Bay of Islands in 2021.)

Utility companies often can disconnect power lines and cables temporarily, or even move telephone poles, but at a cost that adds up quickly. And most communities, understandably, won’t allow you to maul the landscape…

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