The house mover I called had always been responsive whenever I had called them about possible house moves. They could have viewed me as a tyre-kicker but they never did.
The company is a family business based in NSW and they sent their father out to look at the house. He’s been moving houses for years – even spent a stint in the US apparently – where they move some serious buildings. He walked around it and under it. We followed nervously while he prodded and poked, nodded and chatted away. He pointed out that even though it was built in the 50s or 60s, it was vinyl clad. The vinyl had been installed over something that wasn’t asbestos, which was unusual, and it was a good thing.
Can you move a house with asbestos?
I learned tons of things from him, including that because of the health risks they don’t move houses that are clad with asbestos (fibro) if it’s necessary to cut the house. But there’s a way around everything if you’re committed. The fibro can be removed before the house is transported.
Since then, I’ve also learned that if a house has fibro on the outside, it’s likely to have fibro on the eaves and the inside walls. Moving a house like that would probably entail removing the fibro inside and out, and you would just move the timber skeleton – the framing, floors and windows. It’s expensive to replace all that stuff, so it would need to be weighed up carefully.
On the positive side, re-cladding isn’t as expensive as you might think (approx. $7,000 for external cladding for an average house), and it may still cheaper than building a new house or at least worth considering. And if you’re back to the frame you can also insulate the house and increase energy efficiency.
However, our house, which did have fibro on the inside walls, didn’t need to be cut because it wasn’t going on the road. It could just could be moved from one place to the other on the same lot in one piece. That meant less damage to the house than normal and no need to remove any fibro in the first instance.
Other considerations when considering if a house can be moved
‘What about the concrete floor in the laundry and bathrooms?’ we asked broaching the issue I had always thought would be the deal-breaker. ‘The concrete floor? That’ll be no problem. We can move the house even though it has two types of flooring and it will all hang together.’
‘And,’ he added, ‘never mind the mould on the walls and ceiling. You can fix that if you find the source of the problem. This place would come up nicely after a reno. It’s a simple house with a lot of potential. The layout is practical. The floors are good.
‘And what about the paperwork for the approvals?’ we asked.
He replied, ‘We don’t get all the paperwork together. Our business is moving houses, so you would do that. But we can put you in touch with consultants we work with a lot and who know about moving houses. They can prepare the reports and documentation you’ll need.’
I think I mentioned that our friends are quite adventurous, didn’t I? To them, this was the perfect adventure and they decided to go ahead. For me, it was a dream-come-true. My husband I didn’t have the cash to be involved in that part of the project, so I’d get to live the dream without the risk!