Moving a Log House?

Some log house enthusiasts think we can move the whole house in one piece. You can’t. Well, most of the time you can’t for lots of reasons…reasons why we disassemble them a log at a time, numbering each one and noting its placement on our rebuild plan. I know it sounds laborious and it is. But inevitably, a few of the logs need repair, which we do a log at a time, giving them the individual care they require. We’ve then proved each log perfect as it takes its new place in the restored home. And almost always, it’s only the logs that are salvaged. The interiors have either rotted away or have been changed to such a degree that they have little historic value.

Only once have we moved an entire house without taking the logs apart. It was a large two-story log house that stood since 1856 not too far from Barrie Ontario. It was needed however, eighty kilometers south at the client’s property near Acton. Of course there were pros and cons to be considered carefully before committing to the drastic course being contemplated. The pros were few but not insignificant. For one, the interior would be somewhat preserved and there were original elements that deserved the vote. Besides which it might save time (mostly to do with the rebuild if piecemealing the house parts). The other was questionable and beyond determination without extensive research. And I mean extensive. You’ve probably been waiting for those ‘can’t for lots of reasons.’ Number one being the cost. Would it save in the long run? A big maybe. Many of the other reasons have to do with laws, right of ways, environmental issues, the reams of permits demanded by so many agencies (mostly governmental of course) that have their say between A, the departure point and B, the arrival point. You may have guessed that the roof had to come off. Otherwise the building would never get under the hundreds of wires along the way. Yes, I said hundreds. And even then, a professional crew of linemen with their lance-like poles had to accompany the building to insure its passage beneath sagging electrical lines. And then there was the timing. It had to be timed to the minute. One reason alone was to cross the railroad tracks exactly when allowed. Couldn’t have a house smashing up a railroad car could we?

We tried to think of everything…to be prepared for everything. We left an important part of the project to the professional house mover who had to get under the house, with his jacks and install his beamwork and so much other stuff we didn’t quite understand. We had the foundation ready for him. I couldn’t help wonder how the house would fit on it…or how he he’d get it up on it. I and the crew had enough to deal with. I guess there are few major projects that go exactly as planned.

Ours didn’t.   

We were loaded. We were rolling. We crept under the electrical lines. We braved some hills that looked like the house would slide off. Gawkers took pictures. They followed us. Maybe they were waiting for some dramatic moment. They weren’t disappointed. About half way to point B they heard the pop, pop, pop. I heard my hope deflate a nanosecond after. It was the tires. I’m not kidding. The house was mired in deflated rubber, glued to the hot asphalt. Our house mover may have anticipated such a thing for in moments his crew with new tires rolled in and were hijacked into place and were rolling before they knew where they were going. Some anxious moments later in the day we arrived at point B, roofless and weary. Installing it on the foundation may start tomorrow. That’s probably the easy part.

So if you think your house should come this way, I suppose we could do it but give us six months notice.  Yes, We missed the caboose by a fair margin.

By |2017-08-28T09:25:36-04:00August 15th, 2017|log homes|Comments Off on Moving a Log House?

About the Author:

Since 1969 Mel Shakespeare has been designing award-winning homes in the tradition of early 19th century Ontario. The company name, Tradition Home, is now synonymous with period homes of distinction.