Our house was relocated to the current site in about the 1930’s, probably from Charters Towers about 150km West of Townsville. Also the house that we owned and renovated before this one was sold as a removal home by the developer who purchased it from us. House removals has been a fascinating process for me, especially coming from Canada where it is definitely not as common as it is here.
I’ve been talking lately with a house removalist about some of the questions that people have had on the site about house removals. He’s been active on the site answering peoples questions in the comments, so I thought I would ask him if he would like to contribute a guest post to the site about the topic. Below is the article by Guy Drake. I hope that you find it illuminating, I know that I did …
Remove, Recycle, Renovate.
Renovation is a fantastic way to renew a home and save money at the same time, plus it’s environmentally friendly because you are helping to lengthen the life of the building making it more sustainable. Successive renovations could in theory keep a house in use and sustained forever.
There is a way however to take that concept to an even higher level. Consider saving a whole house from certain and total destruction by removing it from a redevelopment site and restoring it at another location; completely recycling the whole lot, kitchen sink and all.
Often referred to as Removal Homes; used houses that have outlived their use at one location can be brought back to active service and reused elsewhere.
It is carried on throughout Australia every day, and becoming increasingly popular. It saves enormous amounts of waste that would otherwise end up in land fill and it provides a green and affordable solution for those who love older style homes but who also want to choose their own site to put one on.
Removing, recycling and renovating a home can be surprisingly easy and profitable, providing you are armed with the right information and have done sufficient research.
Finding a home
Homes are removed from sites all over the country, mostly from within our larger cities; a smaller number from regional areas. Most are from redevelopment sites, some from road construction projects and others due to various changes going on in their local area. South East Queensland is a hot spot for house removal due to the fact that many homes there lend themselves to easy removal, and there is much redevelopment going on with a large selection of homes available.
The best way to find a selection of available homes is to search the web. You can find private sellers looking to have an old house removed to make way for a new one, and there are house removers and removal home brokers who sell and deal in removal homes.
Some companies have house storage yards where you can see a selection of homes in one place. Some even have email notification services to advise their customers when new listings become available. Being subscribed to these is a good way to research the types of homes that become available over time, and when you are ready to proceed you can get onto hot new listings as soon as they become available.
Sourcing through a professional dealer or house remover who can also arrange removal of the home can have its advantages because they will usually have assessed the viability and removability of the home, and may be able to provide a package including a range of required services including council approval.
Aim to find a home within a distance of up to 400klms from your house site to keep transport costs to a reasonable level. Within 100klms is ideal because for most moves the price will be the same or similar for any distance up to 100klms. An extra charge rate per klm beyond 100klms is common.
Houses on concrete slabs on ground are generally not viable and are very rarely moved in Australia. Fortunately many homes built prior to slabs becoming dominant in the 1970’s and 80’s were built on timber platform floors which are relatively easy to move. Avoid solid brick construction but it might be worth considering brick veneer houses (brick over a framed wall) as the bricks can be demolished and then replaced afterwards or reclad with another product, for example, weather board.
Council approval is required in most areas to put a used home on another site, and may also be required to remove a house off its existing site, meaning that two different council areas could be involved with two different types of applications.
Get professional advice or use a consultant with experience in removal home applications as they are quite different and more complex than a new home building application. Normally the seller of the house will be responsible to obtain removal approval for the existing site, but check to make sure it’s being done or it may delay or even prevent you from taking delivery of your house.
Finance for removal homes can be difficult to arrange because banks prefer to lend against assets already bolted down to the land that provides the security for their mortgage. It is helpful if you can fund the purchase and removal costs yourself, then if need be, borrow to complete the home once it’s fixed to its new site on permanent foundations.
Fortunately there are specialist mortgage brokers familiar with the special lending requirements for removal homes and there are ways around having to fund purchase and removal costs out of your own pocket. For more information on finance for removal homes go to http://www.transportablehomefinance.com.au/
Moving the home
Make sure you are comfortable with the company or contractor who will be moving your house, and check that they have sufficient experience, insurance, and the appropriate licence to operate. The building licensing authority in each state usually regulates and licenses house removers.
The best way to move a house is direct from its existing site to its new site. This reduces the likelihood of damage during transport, saves storage and double handling costs and the house will be more secure throughout the process. To do this you will need to negotiate sufficient time for the house to remain at its existing site so the approvals to move it to its new site can be obtained before you have to move it.
Some homes are moved in one piece. Some need to be cut into two or more sections then rejoined, and some may need the roof lowered or removed for transport and re-erected later.
House relocation contractors will usually carry out the necessary structural rejoining work required, however be aware that most will not complete the cosmetic parts of rejoining such as repairing a cut made through plasterboard linings or sealing and repainting a section that has been cut, to hide the join. You should discuss such matters with your contractor so you know what finishing work you will be left with to do yourself, or employ others to do for you. You may find that renovation work carried out after a house is moved will easily incorporate these sorts of cosmetic fixes anyway.
Once the house arrives at the new site it will need to be re-stumped (posts installed to support the floor) and have power, water, gas, telephone services and so on connected.
Most house moving contractors will move and restump, or arrange others to restump, but generally they do not get involved in connecting services, or rejoining cut plumbing pipes and wiring etc, so this will probably be up to you.
Always employ properly licensed and insured plumbing and electrical contractors for this work. Do not attempt to do it yourself, unless of course you have those qualifications.
Renovation is covered elsewhere on this site so I won’t elaborate much about it here other than to comment on how it relates to house removal.
A common perception about houses for removal is that they need major renovation and are mostly in poor condition. That is not always the case and in fact many houses that are moved are in excellent condition, some with recent and extensive renovations already done.
When assessing a home to move, assess it for its renovation potential in just the same way you would an established house. When buying any home whether for removal, renovation or otherwise, its important to have the structure checked by a qualified professional builder or building inspector to make sure its sound and to alert you to any costly areas that may need attention.
Making a profit
Each person’s idea of what a profit means is different. For some, a profit is selling the completed project for more than what it cost them. Others might consider a profit to be obtaining their dream home for less than could be achieved by other means. Others might consider the profit to be the fact that they obtained a home and saved an acre of forest and tonnes of green house gasses in the process.
Regardless of what profit means to you, it is important to make one, and you should be able to with a Removal Home. There will be some houses that are simply not viable due to the costs to move, to renovate or to obtain in the first place. Sometimes homes are even offered free to take away, and you need to be aware that some of them will simply not be worth it. Most house removal projects however will produce a significant return for the effort and money put into them if approached with some due care and attention.
Research is the key to making a profit. Learn about the types and styles of homes available and for what price. Find out which homes are easier and therefore cheaper to move. Consider the difference in costs of buying and moving an already renovated home compared to one that needs a lot of renovation.
Whatever you do, make sure you get enough information to be able to make informed decisions about your project. The rest will be experience.
Happy House Recycling.
Article written by Guy Drake.
Guy is a builder and house remover with the family business Drake Homes which for over 38 years has been removing, recycling and relocating homes in Australia. You can read more from Guy at his blog “House Removal and Recycling”