Moving a house – Part 1: ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’

Manage all reusable blocks

The first project came almost by accident. With some friends, we bought a big block in northern Sydney that we hoped to subdivide. Our aim was to create three new lots and build new houses on them for investment.

The block had a 1960s vinyl clad house on it that was presentable enough on the outside, but in terrible condition inside.

The little house – a lesson in not judging a book by its cover

In fact, the weekend after we settled on the property, our two families went there to celebrate with some bubbles. It was the first time our friends had seen inside the house – they had trusted me enough to buy it sight unseen. It was in such poor condition and dampened our mood so much that we couldn’t even open the champagne there! A clutter of huge spiders had commandeered the verandah, there was extensive mould on almost every ceiling and wall, it had the oldest, most basic kitchen I’d ever seen and an appalling bathroom with a concrete floor.

‘Basic’ would be an understatement in describing this kitchen


When subdivision plans were drawn up a big, red boundary line ran right through the house. It couldn’t be configured any other way. The house obviously couldn’t stay where it was, but I had mentally dismissed the possibility that it could be moved.  Firstly, it was in ghastly condition. Not only would it need a renovation, but an extensive one.

The house couldn’t stay where it was under subdivision plans

Secondly, although the house was on piers with a predominantly timber floor, the bathroom and laundry floors were made of concrete. I couldn’t imagine how a suspended concrete floor could be moved without falling right out. So the old girl was approved for demolition.

As ‘D-day’ approached, I cautiously raised the question of moving the house with our friends. I didn’t dare to believe it was possible and I didn’t expect them to take me seriously. Now that demolition was scheduled, keeping the house would slow our project down. But our partners are pretty adventurous to say the least. ‘Let’s have a look at it,’ they said.

One call to my old contact in the house removal business changed our plans changed by 180 degrees!