One of the most important factors in house moving is how you intend to get the home from Point A to Point B. A house mover's equipment can pick up any house, no matter how heavy or large, but if the path to the new lot is littered with obstructions such as trees, mailboxes, curvy roads that require hairpin turns, railroad crossings, overpasses or utility lines, then there's only so much that can be feasibly done. Longer journeys will only increase the number of obstacles, and you must work with each of the cities or towns through which the home will pass for moving permits. Some areas also have road restrictions and require that home moves be done only during nighttime or weekend hours.
Some of these barriers are surmountable with some legwork. For example, if you coordinate with homeowners along the route, you can remove and replace mailboxes along the route as you go. Some trees and bushes can be pruned back. But any home taller than one story is going to get caught in utility wires. Utility companies will raise the wires for you, but this service comes at a price and is often one of the largest expenses associated with moving a house. Larger homes can be cut into pieces, but they must be structurally strong, and this also adds to the price.
For these reasons, the cheapest homes to move are those that are small and have a short, clear route to travel. If your home is larger, or if the route is long and tricky, you have to decide at what point the expense of moving the home is greater than the value of a home. On the densely populated East Coast, moves are usually within the same town because it's too complicated and expensive to go further. In areas that are more spread out, such as the Midwest and the West, it's possible to go hundreds of miles [source: Lewis]. Cross-country moves are difficult financially and logistically as they usually require disassembly of the home, in addition to meeting a wide variety of road regulations.
The cost of moving a house starts at about $12 to $16 per square foot but can quickly rise if the home is heavier, bigger or has farther to go [sources: McLinden, Burstein]. One house builder estimates that moving a large home more than just a few miles can run about $150,000 to $200,000 [source: Fetters]. In addition to the costs of the actual moving, these expenses should also be considered:
- Cost of the new home, if you're not moving one that you already own
- Buying the land where the home will be placed
- Building a new foundation for the home
- Permitting and inspection costs
- The fees for plumbers and electricians to disconnect and reconnect major utilities in the home
- Any renovation costs, particularly if the town requires the home to be brought up to all current building codes
If you're still determined to relocate your house, it's time to start digging. Learn about the steps involved in this feat of engineering and logistics on the next page.