How Much Does It Cost to Move a House?
Sometimes moving is inevitable, but it can be hard to leave a beloved home. How much does it cost to move a house? House moving has a wide cost range of $15,000 to $200,000.
- Typical Range: $15,000 to $200,000
Moving to a new location can be hard, especially for homeowners who are attached to the structure of their current home and don’t want to leave it. Perhaps they have found the perfect lot on which to build their dream home—but if they purchase the lot, the home will be too expensive to build. Can a homeowner move their current home to a new lot? It turns out the answer is yes—for a price. Many people may have seen homes traveling down a highway, flanked by “wide load” signs, flags, and sometimes police escorts, but sometimes moving a home is a smaller job that pulls a residence back to safety from a crumbling shoreline. How much do house moving companies charge? While professional movers cost a couple thousand dollars, paying to move a home is much more expensive. Moving an existing home to a new lot (or moving one from a lot that has become problematic) can cost between $15,000 and $200,000, depending on a number of factors, so it can actually be a much more affordable way to move if the existing home is serving the owner’s needs well. The average cost of moving houses can also vary based on the geographic location: Some areas simply have flatter, more open terrain that simplifies the move. There are pitfalls to keep in mind when transporting homes, so homeowners are advised to consider several factors as they decide whether moving a house is the best choice for their relocation plans.
Factors in Calculating the Cost to Move a House
In order for a house to be moved, the structure needs to be separated from its foundation and dug from the ground, jacked onto a rail system (for short moves) or flatbed (for longer ones), and slowly and carefully transported—and then the process must be reversed. If it’s done improperly, parts of the home can collapse or break, or the whole structure could unbalance, shift, and crash down. Therefore, precision is the name of the game, and there are many, many components to the process, each of which is a part of the total cost. So how much does it cost to jack up a house? How much does it cost to relocate a house? The cost for each project will vary based on the conditions of the house and the specifics of the move.
Some of the major factors that make up the cost of moving a house are pretty common-sense: Larger and more complex homes will be more expensive to shift than simpler, smaller ones, and the distance traveled will also affect the total cost. Other factors, however, might not be so obvious—for example, the height of the foundation at the old and new locations can make a big difference, as can the necessary route from point A to point B. Because each factor can change the cost significantly, it’s worth assessing how each applies to a homeowner’s individual situation while calculating the cost.
Building Size and Weight
This one is pretty obvious: A small mobile home will cost less to move than a larger structure. Why? Larger homes require more structure underneath to transport, more time to load and secure, and more work hours by contractors. The larger the home is, the more it will cost. Homes that are very large may need to be cut apart, moved, and then reassembled, all of which can significantly add to the cost.
Size and weight do not always go hand in hand, so it’s important to consider the weight of the building materials and framing. A small house can be very heavy if it’s built from heavy materials with lots of framing and internal structure, while a larger home built with more modern materials can be lighter. How much does it cost to move a modular home? The lightweight build will mean that a modular home costs less to move than a smaller brick home.
Building Shape and Structure
It’s easy to assume that a simple one-story ranch house will be the least expensive type of home to move, but that’s not necessarily the case. Ranch homes have larger footprints, often with “wings” out to one side or the other, which can make them much more complex to move than a plain, boxy, two- to three-story home with a smaller, tidier footprint. Any home that has additions creating irregular footprints or multiple angles to support during transport will have increased cost, as more work goes into making sure those shapes don’t collapse. The same principle applies to attached porches, balconies, chimneys, and any other external parts of the home that can’t be removed for transport but must be supported. And taller houses will present more problems if they need to be transported on roads with electrical lines, bridges, or tunnels; it will likely cost more to route around these obstacles.
The structure of the home’s framing and build will also affect the cost, but it’s trickier to pinpoint exactly how. No particular structure is automatically more or less expensive to move, but each will require a slightly different treatment that eventually contributes to the cost. Frame houses need different supports than frame houses with masonry, or brick, terra cotta, stone, and other materials. They can all be moved successfully as long as a qualified contractor helps make the plan first.
Foundation Type and Height
Companies that move houses will slide a series of steel beams beneath the structure of the home and use them to lift the home off of its foundation in order to move it. A clearance of 3 feet between the lower floor structure and the ground is necessary for these beams to fit. As a result, homes built on piers or houses that include full basements or deep crawlspaces are the easiest to lift and thus the least expensive. Homes with lower foundations can be excavated to a depth that the beams can be slid through, but that adds time, labor, excavation equipment, and therefore cost. The most expensive foundation type is generally a concrete slab. Professionals can build tunnels underneath the slab itself or create channels through the walls of the home to insert the beams, but these options are very costly.
Moving a home requires a lot of equipment and space, so the homeowner will need to remove shrubbery and landscaping that might get in the way, along with fences that are close to the home. Owners may also need to ask the neighbors’ permission to drive or walk through their property. At the new site, the same space will be required, so preparing the site for the home to be driven to may require removing plantings, landscaping, and fences. This can be a cost-saving opportunity for owners who can remove landscaping themselves, but others may need to hire a landscaping or tree removal company.
In addition to clearing space for the home to be prepared and moved, owners (or contractors) will need to contact their utility companies to have the property marked prior to digging by calling 811. Contractors will mark the public utilities with spray and flags, but owners may need to do additional marking for wells, septic, or other private utilities. The same will need to be done at the new location. Many utilities provide this service for free, while others charge a small fee.
Utilities must be completely disconnected prior to the move. Plumbing will also need to be disconnected from the water supply, and all plumbing lines (supply and drains) must be disconnected. Electrical supply must be disconnected and lines removed. Cable, telephone, and any other utilities coming into the home, as well as exterior air-conditioning units or outdoor plumbing, must also be removed. It’s recommended that homeowners hire qualified professionals for this part, because it’s critical that the utilities be physically disconnected at every connection point to ensure that nothing is torn away when the home is lifted.
When a house is being moved, distance equals time. Longer distances take more time, require more labor, often require additional escort vehicles on the roads, and therefore are more expensive than most short moves. Moving a home locally will cost less than moving to another state.
Accessibility and Route Difficulty
Moving a home a few feet back from the shoreline or to another location on the same property can be fairly straightforward and less costly, as long as there’s space for the equipment needed to move the home. Lots with sharp drops, hills, low-hanging trees, and narrow or inaccessible driveways present more challenges to a home mover and will increase the costs. Once a home needs to be moved to the road, however, the costs ramp up sharply and quickly: Professionals will have to assess the entire route, looking for obstacles, clearances, bridges or overpasses that may be impassible, steep hills or poorly canted roadways, and any other problems for access or stability. Each obstacle needs a planned workaround, which can add distance and cost.
If the home needs to travel on busier city streets or highways, local restrictions may require a safety escort, which will further increase the cost.
There are two options for moving a house to a new foundation. The most common approach is to place the footers of the foundation in place, lower the home down a ramp onto the footers to check the dimensions, then elevate the home and build or pour the foundation beneath it. This is the least expensive option. Another method is to pour a concrete foundation in advance, designed specifically for the new home, and then place the home directly onto the foundation when the home arrives at the new site. In some cases this may be the only choice, if there’s no room on the site for the ramp necessary to place the house on footers. It’s also a little more expensive and can be risky if the measurements aren’t precise. This element can also vary based on the local concrete square foot cost or concrete cost per yard, so choosing a contractor who does a large volume of work and offers discounts can be helpful.
This isn’t a job that can be done by a general contractor or a handyman—the many intricacies and precise decisions that need to be made to successfully move a house without destroying it require that specialists and experts be consulted. There will need to be architectural drawings made of the original and new sites, calculations about placement of steel beams and heavy equipment, plans laid for the speed of the move and the types of equipment necessary, and a thousand other small choices, each of which could end in disaster if made incorrectly. As a result, owners who wish to move their home will need to pay a fairly significant amount to expert workers in different capacities, likely over a period of several months.
Owners will need a permit to remove the home from its original foundation, a permit to pour or build a new foundation, a permit to disconnect and reconnect utilities, and, if moving offsite, road and travel permits. In addition, it’s a good idea to have a structural inspection of the home after it’s moved to make sure it’s safe (some municipalities may require this). Finally, if the owner has a mortgage on the home, they’ll need a permit from the lender to move the home to the new location. It’s a risk to move a house: There are many opportunities for things to go wrong, so the mortgage lender has the right to supervise the process or require additional insurance to protect their investment.
Additional Costs and Considerations
The nuts and bolts of actually moving the house have associated costs. There are, however, other factors to consider that may not be immediately obvious. These additional costs can add up quickly, so they’re important to factor into a budget.
Because technicians will need to slide steel rails underneath the home to raise it, basements and crawl spaces will need to be cleared before the movers begin working. These spaces won’t be transported with the house, so owners will need to pack up belongings stored in those areas to be moved, and any debris or trash that has been hiding in the crawl space for years should be removed—this makes it safer for the workers to do their job and makes the work go faster.
Surprisingly, owners can leave most of their possessions in the home while it’s being moved. Because all movements will be exceedingly slow and smooth to avoid damaging the structure of the home, most possessions should be fine (though it might be wise to package up anything particularly delicate or of great value). Outside the home, owners will need to disconnect stairs, decks, outdoor showers, and any structures that are attached to the home. Some of these may be transported to the new location and reattached after the move, but they cannot be moved with the home itself. Homeowners may want to look into hiring one of the best moving companies to handle any possessions they don’t want to leave in the house while it’s being moved.
Does the home have a garage or shed that will also need to be moved? If so, those outbuildings won’t move on the same vehicle, which adds extra equipment and moving charges to the total. Depending on the size and construction, it may be less expensive to simply replace sheds and small structures, and possibly even the garage.
Depending on the distance and complications associated with a particular move, residents can expect to be out of the house for at least 2 months. Owners may need to consider the cost of a short-term rental or a long-term hotel stay.
How Much Does It Cost to Move a House by Type of House?
Most of the costs associated with moving a home are contingent on obstacles to the process: Contributing to the total expense of the project are the shape, size, and structure of the home; the length, shape, and difficulty of the route; permits that must be acquired; and any landscaping and hardscaping that must be moved. The type of home affects many of these variables.
The complexities of a traditional home include many of the factors that can drive up the cost of moving the home. Structural variations, shape and footprint variations, additions, the plumbing and wiring that get tacked on through additions—all of these add to the cost. Also, many traditional homes have significant landscaping or grading in the yard that can make the excavations and removal more difficult. These are some of the reasons the cost to move a traditional home can be as low as $15,000 but can soar as high as $200,000.
A mobile home is designed to be just that: a moving home. The size, proportions, and structure of mobile homes are optimized to facilitate the process of raising, transporting, and replacing them. As a result, many of the cost variables that are part of the calculations necessary to move a traditional house simply aren’t a factor with moving a mobile home. The typical cost to move a mobile home ranges from $700 to $20,000, with the average hovering around $7,000. Factors such as distance and route difficulty are still considerations but somewhat less so than with a traditional home. The best mobile home movers are experienced with moving this type of house.
Do I Need to Move My House?
Moving a house involves a lot of moving pieces, and understanding the process can be confusing, which may lead a homeowner to wonder if they really need to move the house at all. And it is a complicated process—but in some circumstances it’s absolutely worth it.
Historic Home Preservation
The property on which historic homes sit is often expansive and beautiful—which can result in builders buying the land and planning to dispose of the house. This can mean that bargain hunters can pick up historic houses for next to nothing—if they are willing to move them. In this case, buying the house for a song and paying to move it can result in a really beautiful home costing less than it would have had it been purchased in place, and the preservation of something historic and beautiful is an added benefit.
Property Line Disputes
Perhaps a home is a couple of feet too close to the property line, but the original neighbors who were next door when the house was purchased didn’t notice or care. Now, a new neighbor has moved in, wants to expand their own house—and the survey shows that your house is in violation. Sometimes the town will grandfather the home into compliance, but in some situations, moving the house is the only option. Luckily, this type of move is one of the least expensive—in some cases, the move can be accomplished with rollers instead of a truck.
One of the most frequent reasons that people choose to do on-property house moves is an environmental factor—usually water or erosion. Shoreline homes that suddenly find themselves much too close to an eroded cliff or the water itself can benefit from moving back to more solid ground while the home itself is still structurally sound. Homes in a floodplain that have access to higher ground, either on the property or down the street, can be saved from constant flooding and the dangerous mold and mildew growth that comes with constant dampness. In these cases, moving the house can be more economical than selling and buying a new home—the owners will have to disclose their knowledge of the water or land issue when they sell, which can devalue the home.
Relocation on the Property
Has the empty lot next door come up for sale? Purchasing it may give a homeowner the space for the large gardens or the in-ground pool they’ve always wanted, if they can relocate the house to a better position. Depending on the terrain, this can be a less expensive move because it won’t involve road acquiring permits or planning.
Foundation Repairs or Additions
Foundation problems can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare, because there is no simple fix for a foundation that’s badly cracked or crumbling. Rather than razing the whole home and starting from scratch, a homeowner can opt to move the house temporarily while the foundation is repaired or replaced. And if they’re looking to put an addition on the home and marry the new foundation to the old to build one large basement space, moving the house can allow for that to happen with less risk of danger to the home itself.
Moving a House: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
There are significant parts of moving a house that a homeowner can do on their own: removing landscaping and fencing, trimming back trees for access, asking neighbors for access, clearing crawl spaces, and even removing stairs and decks. Homeowners with proper equipment can even do minor excavation. But by and large, this is a job for a professional—and not just one. Most house moves will require an architect, engineer, and professional workers who are trained to attach steel beams and operate the hydraulic lifts to raise the home. If the house simply needs to be lifted for foundation repair, then homeowners will need to hire one of their local house lifting companies, and the costs stop here. However, if the homeowner is moving their home to another location and requires transportation, then they’ll need structural house movers. A truck driver and escorts, along with professionals to place the footings and build the new foundation. will be needed. It’s a job with little leeway for error—and any error will be dangerous and costly. Homeowners will want to choose the professionals carefully and then trust that they’ll make the best choices.
How to Save Money on the Cost to Move a House
Moving a house is an expensive proposition—there’s no doubt about it. But those who have decided to do so have good reason, so it’s worth looking for ways to save money during the process.
- Do some research. Carefully interview several house moving companies to find one that you trust. This is more important than choosing the lowest estimate and will save you money in the long run.
- Shop around. Request formal quotes from several companies to compare and use as negotiation tools.
- Consider moving location. Choose a destination site that is easily accessible from main roads and has optimal conditions to build a foundation as well as access for large vehicles.
- Search for discounts. Ask the contractors what you can do to reduce the cost, such as managing landscaping, removing fencing or small outbuildings, and otherwise preparing the site.
- Check your insurance. Ensure that your contractor and/or your homeowner’s insurance will cover any damage to the home during the move. If they won’t, or the coverage is limited, purchasing additional coverage before the move can save you from financial loss if there’s damage.
Questions to Ask About Moving a House
Homeowners will want to make sure that they thoroughly understand the process of moving their house and the plans the contractor has in place. In addition, it’s important to make sure that the contractors are all licensed and insured and very experienced at this particular type of job. But there are other questions to ask before hiring house movers, including the following.
- How long have you been in business? How many houses have you moved?
- Are you insured for injury and damages to your workers? Are you covered for damages to my home during the move?
- Who will hire the other professionals who work on this job, such as architects, utility contractors, engineers, and others? Do I have a say in that, or is it your decision?
- Is my home a good candidate for moving? What challenges do you see on the sites?
- Will my contract list all of the contractors and workers on the project?
- Who is responsible if the inspection after the move shows that the home is damaged and unrepairable?
Moving a house is a big job. In its way, it’s almost more complicated than building a new house, but if there’s a good reason to move the home, then it’s usually worth it. Below are some of the questions we often see regarding the moving of a house so homeowners can start considering the cost and wisdom of moving theirs.
Q. How safe is house lifting?
If a homeowner selects a house moving company that has a lot of experience and very good references, it’s surprisingly safe. Experienced house movers understand the exact calibrations they’ll have to make to move a house, based on its structure, age, condition, and circumstance—most companies advise that homeowners don’t even need to pack up the dishes because the move will be that gentle.
Q. What are some disadvantages of moving a house?
The process can be long and expensive, and it’s impossible to accurately gauge how much the cost might rise: There are too many variables. Residents might have to move out for a couple of months, and of course, while unlikely, it is possible that the house could be badly damaged during the move. Many of these can be alleviated by choosing reliable contractors.
Q. How common is the practice of moving houses?
Surprisingly, it is more common than one might think! Some companies may lift and move 200 to 250 structures per year, while others may move a lot fewer. Areas where mobile homes are common may see even higher numbers. It’s not practical for long-distance moves, or as a replacement for moving to a new home just because the owner likes the old one but wants to live across town, but it’s common enough that companies that specialize in the process exist and continue to grow.
Q. How far can you move a house?
To a certain extent, the answer to this question depends on where a homeowner lives. In flat areas of the country with wide-open roads, houses can be moved almost any distance (for a cost). Interstate moves can be difficult because of differing permit requirements and fees. In areas where the roads are narrower, winding, or quite steep, especially if the power lines or other houses are close to the road, it can be very difficult to move a house more than a few lots away, and it will be very expensive.
Q. What types of houses can be moved?
Mobile homes can all be moved. Most traditional homes can be moved as well, but sprawling houses may need to be cut apart, and very tall houses can cause difficulty navigating through congested areas with low-hanging power lines. There are very few houses that can’t be moved at all, but the more complex the job, the more it will cost.
Q. Is it worth it to move a house?
This is a very individual question, because it depends almost entirely on why the homeowner is choosing to move the house. Are they trying to preserve a historic family home? Then it’s definitely worth the cost of moving. Do they want to save a beloved home by moving it to another location on the property or somewhere adjacent? It’s probably cheaper than selling the house, buying another, and moving. Do they like their house and don’t want to go through the hassle of moving to a new one, or do they want to move two towns over to a lot with a beach view? In this case, the cost might outweigh the benefit, but if a homeowner really, really wants to stay in their house and have a beach view, it might be worth it.