Where can I find an cool old house to move onto a lot?
November 8, 2008 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find an cool old house to move onto a lot?

A friend of mine is buying a historic house in a small post-industrial city for $10 because a university needs the land for expansion. They are even footing the bill to move the house onto his lot. I was wondering about the feasability of doing something like this in New York City.

I was inspired by this earlier MeFi post which suggested a two places to find older houses for moving. My google-fu has led me to some historic preservation sites, but they are all geared towards keeping the historic building right where it is and I was wondering if the wise me-fi sages could direct me to sites listing old houses needing rescue and relocation. I understand that moving a house and building a foundation is an expensive undertaking, but I was wondering if there are forums or websites where historic/distressed houses that list historic/distressed houses available for relocation.
posted by abirae to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Nickel Brothers, http://www.nickelbros.com/sales.html, in Puget Sound often maintain
a small inventory of already moved houses ready to deliver, locally.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:14 PM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

That's exactly what I am looking for. Oh, if only it were on the other side of the continent.
posted by abirae at 1:18 PM on November 8, 2008

i suspect that finding an old house for relocation and moving it would be an order of magnitude easier than finding a sizeable empty lot you can actually afford to purchase in nyc, at least not anywhere in or near manhattan.
posted by lia at 2:04 PM on November 8, 2008

The big deal is the moving it. This AskMe thread had some great information about what it actually costs to move a house some distance, so you'll probably need to look close by NYC. Also what lia says about lots, land is frequently spendy in places people want to live.
posted by jessamyn at 2:15 PM on November 8, 2008

Thanks for the AskMe link Jessamyn. Yes, the cost of moving a house sounds absurd until faced with the cost of housing here in Brooklyn. It's totally nuts. That's why I was thinking that small inexpensive house + small odd lot + moving costs might equal some kind of interesting possibility. Finding that magic place nearby filled with lovely (but tiny) houses faced with demolition might be though. Maybe I can live in an old Carvel.
posted by abirae at 3:08 PM on November 8, 2008

I'd say it's worth your while to contact Nickel Brothers and ask if they know of anybody in the business in your neck of the woods - specialized companies like that tend to have a pretty good idea of who else out there is doing what they do.
posted by davey_darling at 5:37 PM on November 8, 2008

Check out the forum at Old House Journal or look for any regional preservation society and contact them. This happens more often than you think.

However, the feasibility and cost of moving a house is going to very much depend upon what is between the old location and the new one. Power lines? Bridges? Underpasses? Narrow streets? These are the things that make relocating an old house difficult and expensive, not the house itself necessarily. That's why it is rare to see an old house moved from a rural to urban location.
posted by jeanmari at 7:17 PM on November 8, 2008

Look for property in Detroit. Amazing, cool old houses for dirt cheap.
posted by acridrabbit at 7:18 PM on November 8, 2008

Well, if you're interested, the house that is the subject of this thread apparently will be put up for donation to whomever wants it (at least according to the developer). It's about a half hour outside NYC. Memail me.
posted by dancinglamb at 7:54 PM on November 8, 2008

If both the house and its new location are near water, it may be possible to do part of the move by barge. I've read of this being done in the Seattle area.
posted by ShooBoo at 10:00 PM on November 8, 2008

I know you think you're being brilliant but I can't imagine this is remotely cost-effective, at least not in the way you think it will be. A moved house needs extensive -- some would say complete -- rehabilitation. New utilities have to be installed to meet code -- you can't just connect what's there. Lots of structural problems have to be corrected unless the move was super-careful and maybe even if it was. Getting a house of any size to anywhere else in urban American requires bridges to be approved and maybe even inspected, utility lines to be belayed, and traffic to be stopped and controlled the whole way.

And all that said, from an historic preservation standpoint, you'll get no respect. You helped a good old house move away from where it belonged.

If you have a ton of money this may seem like a fun exercise, like when Biltmore was erected with parts from a European castle. If you're trying to save money, it just isn't feasible.
posted by dhartung at 10:16 PM on November 8, 2008

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