The Older Home: Raising and moving houses–big undertakings — June 2 2011

The recent flooding in North Jersey has revived talk of raising some of the homes that occupy flood zones. This is one of the most common requests for the few companies in our region that specialize in moving houses.

The recent flooding in northern New Jersey has revived talk of raising some of the homes that occupy flood zones. This is one of the most common requests for the few companies in our region that specialize in moving houses.

“Definitely, flooding is the biggest reason that people request raising a house,” said Larry Myroncuk, of Myroncuk House Movers, New Egypt (myroncukhousemovers.com). “Also, if you live within a flood plain and want to remodel your house, FEMA says you can only spend up to 49 percent of the assessed value (on improvements) without also raising the house.

“We do a lot along the shore, where people are taking older houses and remodeling them, but also have to raise them.”

Myroncuk said raising an older house is not a problem as long as it’s “not rotten, and structurally sound.” The oldest home his company raised was the Revere house in Burlington County, a 281-year-old brick structure. He also raised a 120-foot-long shore house, dating from the early 1900s, just to improve the owner’s view — “He couldn’t see over the dunes.”

Other houses are raised because of more urgent and serious issues, such as an oil tank leak. “We’ll put beams under one side, hold up half the house and take the foundation out,” Myroncuk said, so the tank can be removed and the contamination remediated. “We just did a big, two-store house in Ringwood. That’s probably 50 percent of our work now — we do about two a week.”

Raising houses, especially in flood zones, also makes up the greatest percentage of jobs for Wolfe House & Building Movers, based in Bernville, PA (wolfehousebuildingmovers.com).

“A lot of times, we’ll lift one straight up 12 to 14 feet and build a foundation under it,” said Wolfe estimator Mike Brovont. “Next time it floods, (the water) runs through the lower part and the upstairs is fine. Most people, they can either tuck in for a while or leave by boat until it’s over.”

Brovont said that, although the cost of raising a house ranges widely depending on the amount of time and work involved, the average 1,500-square-foot house can be raised “a couple of feet” for $15,000-$20,000.”

You Can Take It With You

Most people, when they don’t like their living situation, they move to a new house.

Others just move the house.

Some of their reasons?

* A new highway is coming through the property

* A big-box store wants the land and has bought the homeowners out

* The house is too close to the road to build a much-needed addition

* The home has enough beauty and/or historic value to be worth preserving.

Myroncuk said that, although his company is thoroughly capable of moving a whole house, he doesn’t get much call for it lately.

“It’s few and far between today, because of the traffic, wires and trees,” he said. “We may just move it down the block. I’ve moved one in the last five or six years.” His company’s website features many photos of homes relocated during its 60-plus years in business.

As you might imagine, moving a whole house is a costly project and undertaken only when the structure is worth the trouble. Usually, the home has a lot of sentimental, historic or even monetary value.

“You can’t build a stone house these days for what you’ll pay to move an old one,” said Brovont. “The artisanship that went into these older stone and brick homes, you’d pay millions for it.”