Please, help me find a house to move onto my lot!
February 22, 2007 2:49 PM   Subscribe

I need a house to move onto my lot in the Florida panhandle (South Walton County). I don't want a modular or mobile home. I want a real house, even if it's a fixer-upper.

I've googled every term I can think of and spoken with several companies in the South to no avail. Anybody got any ideas? Thanks.
posted by wsg to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
So you're looking to buy an existing house and then move it onto your lot?

Any particular reasons? Have you considered a prefab house? (I consider prefab to be different than a modular or mobile home, that's why I'm bringing it up.) I've seen quite a few prefab houses that actually are 'real houses.'
posted by drstein at 3:27 PM on February 22, 2007

I think you'll find little economic advantage to buying, transporting, and installing an already-built "fixer-upper". Keep in mind you'll still need have a foundation poured, you'll still need electrical and plumbing brought in, you'll still need contractors to reassemble it after the move, and after all that, you're left with a fixer-upper, assuming it passes all inspections and you don't need to renovate it further. You'd be doing a lot of the work involved in building from scratch, without the benefits. Unless you could find someone about to tear down an old house to build their mansion who's willing to give it to you cheap, I don't see the point.

Why not have a modest new house built, or go prefab as drstein suggests?

If you do have some reason to believe that this is the best course of action, you could check building records in areas near you with rapid development going on (people buying houses for the lot, knocking them down and building new) and find high-value projects. Usually there are a few major builders landing the big projects, and you could contact them to see if they're demolishing anything soon, and if they'd be willing to work out some deal with you.
posted by contraption at 3:50 PM on February 22, 2007

I know what you are talking about. Sometimes historic homes are sold cheaply in an effort to keep them from being demolished. You might try ...

Sounds like an adrenaline filled adventure. Good Luck.
posted by SMELLSLIKEFUN at 3:58 PM on February 22, 2007

This Old House magazine has a back-page feature every month about historic houses that need to be saved from the wrecking ball. You might check that out. They have a website, but I don't know if that feature appears on it.
posted by scratch at 4:31 PM on February 22, 2007

Well, The Devil Queen did this and they have their adventure so far documented on their houseblog. John is a great guy if you have any questions...
posted by jeanmari at 6:10 PM on February 22, 2007

Around here people buy give away perfectly good 3 bedroom houses so they can build McMansions on the lot. I've seen them on craigslist for as little as $10. Kind of a longshot but you might try it. Personally I'd call a bunch of McMansion building companies and ask them if they are planning on tearing down any houses and see if you can make an offer on one.
posted by fshgrl at 7:46 PM on February 22, 2007

fshgrl is thnkn.
posted by wsg at 7:52 PM on February 22, 2007

Are there any sites that talk about how this works? I'm European and we don't do anything like that here that I know of. I can't quite see how you can dismantle a house to all the parts and then put it together again and have it pass building regulations (due to all the bits that are probably permanently joined together).
posted by wackybrit at 8:10 PM on February 22, 2007

For wackybrit. It's not a great link, but you get the idea.

Usually if the house is too big it gets cut in half along an internal wall line (to minimise the cuts to visible wall/ceiling areas), transported in two parts, and rejoined on site. The cut internal wall is reinstated, and floor and ceiling bearers are reinforced by sandwiching new steel or timber bearers beside them (I forget the exact term).

It's also not too uncommon, particularly in country areas here, to join two similar houses together to make one big one.
posted by Pinback at 10:26 PM on February 22, 2007

I'm surprised that I haven't seen a suggestion to ask a realtor in your area. The agent who sold you the lot may not have experience with this type of sale/transfer, but they likely know someone who does. You might try calling agencies that are in Tampa, St Petersburg, Orlando, St Augustine, Sarasota, and cities toward the middle of our fine state. Real estate agents in Alabama might be able to help you also. Good luck!
posted by bilabial at 6:34 AM on February 23, 2007

Also, if you've seen some pre-fab/modular like these and discounted them, or these aren't to your taste, please ignore, but there are some amazing homes that can be put together for relatively low costs that feature excellent construction and can save you money (and your health) over time with green/renewable materials and innovative methods to heat, cool and power (semi-annoying Flash sites ahead warning):

Michelle Kaufmann Designs

Flat Pak House

Aero 11
posted by jalexei at 9:21 AM on February 23, 2007

wsg, you're not at all crazy. I used to work for a housemover and these guys are amazing. Roll the beams under, jack it up, put it on wheels, roll it away. Check out the International Association of Structural Movers website. Looks like there are a number of movers in FL. Also, recycling houses is the ultimate in resource sustainability, if you care about that sort of thing. Sure makes a hell of a lot of sense over demo-ing a whole perfectly good house so a new McMansion can be built in its place.
posted by sauris at 11:36 AM on February 23, 2007 may give you inspiration (if not necessarily low cost, since they charge for transport based on how far you are from their west coast location).
posted by allterrainbrain at 8:09 PM on February 23, 2007

I've been doing a bit of studying on this. There can be really good benefits to moving an existing house to a new location. As has been mentioned, if you're very lucky you can get a free house that's about to be demolished. You just have to pay somebody to haul it to its new location. There are companies all over who do this stuff. If you aren't lucky enough to get a free house, you can still come out well ahead with the right land and house prices.

One of the benefits of this is approach is that you can get A LOT of house for your money. They don't build houses like they used to. The houses built 40 years ago are, many times, substantially more solid than the homes built today. This is not always the case. BUYER BEWARE. Inspect well.

Google "house movers" or "structural relocation" for your area. Sometimes they may know of or have homes for sale and relocation. Of course, there are going to be additional costs for getting a foundation or pilings, water, electric, sewer, etc. It can still be cheaper than building new, but there will be compromises, obviously.

I don't want my house to sit on a slab. I want a wooden house that can be set upon footings. This is much cheaper than having a slab poured.

Bilabial's idea of contacting local realtors is a good one, but there's little value in searching much farther than within your immediate area cuz it's not practical for house movers to move homes more that 1 or 2 hundred miles MAX cuz they have to get permits and alert authorities in every county through which they are going to be moving this very OVERSIZED LOAD.

There have been some good suggestions in this thread. Here's another one somebody suggested:

Contact demolition companies. They know what they're about to tear down. I had someone tell me I just missed out on a house that he just tore down, all the while thinking "what a shame this great house has to be demolished. It could be hauled somewhere else and make somebody a fine home." I have a feeling this happens every day somewhere. What a shame, eh?

No doubt we're not going to get our ultimate dream house this time, but with the right deal, it can be good. We will make it so.
posted by wsg at 11:40 PM on February 24, 2007

I need a proofreader, too.
posted by wsg at 11:47 PM on February 24, 2007

Pinback: Thanks! That's really cool! I guess it is not popular here at all because none of our houses are made of wood.. all brick.
posted by wackybrit at 5:38 PM on February 25, 2007

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