To move a home...

I got a great question from a local resident, that I thought would be worth sharing with the neighborhood about moving a home.

Question

A friend told me that someone presented at the Richmond Meeting, quite some time ago, about a home near Division. They were interested in finding a way to move off the site, rather than having it demolished.

I'm interested in doing what I can to preserve affordable housing in Portland, and have a site the home could potentially be moved to. 

Any assistance you can offer in getting me in touch with the owner or whoever it was that came to the Richmond group would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks!

Answer

Moving homes is a great way to preserve some classic existing homes while also making space for new development. I find it fascinating that it's something we used to practice all the time, but it's been basically abandoned as a practice since about WW2. A great example of how common it was is the great Raising of Chicago, where they raised entire sections of town by over 6 ft! There's even a lot of local examples where the old deed is for a very different address, and some research can show that your house made quite the move. Or even some more recent examples would be the Phelps-Montgomery House on Hawthorne or the Morris Marks House in Downtown.

To get a house moved from A to B you're going to need the following:

  1. To purchase the original house
  2. A company that can move it
  3. A clean route between the two locations
  4. A place to put the house

To purchase the original house

To purchase the house you'd have to contact the owner. I don't know them, but the city does and you can find them on PortlandMaps.com

Sometimes the owner lives right there. Other times it's a rental from a local person. And sometimes it's an LLC or other shell company that makes it really hard to track down who actually owns the place. It goes without saying that you'll need to fully work out any deals with the owner before moving their house.

A company that can move it

I have a little experience with moving houses myself, as I had to raise my house to replace a crumbling foundation. There's not a lot of games in town, but the key companies are going to be Emmert International in Clackamas and Northwest Structural Moving in Scapoose. In fact both locations even have used-house lots where you can find a classic home and they can bring it to you.

A clean route between the two locations

This can get a bit messy. It's probably a step that the moving company will handle, but a few things you should know. Every intersection where the power or other lines are low will require the various utilities to come in and raise those lines. Sometimes this can require temporarily disconnecting things. This can get really pricey really fast, and is the main reason why few people move homes. Even a simple move of a few blocks could cost 10s of thousands.

Fortunately in your case, that house is rather short, so maybe not too much lifting if they can put it on a low-ish trailer. But you might also have to cut some trees, so expect to get at least an arborist to make sure there's a clear route.  The city is pretty challenging on cutting our tree canopy though, so this might also be an uphill battle, but if you love the place, it's worth looking into it.

A place to put the house

Sounds like you've got this part covered. But just in case, if you're wanting to put it on an existing lot then you could be subject to all sorts of Single-Family Zoning rules. The house you're looking at is over 800 sqft, which means that it would be too big to be allowed to be an Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU). If you're in an R2.5 zone though, you might be allowed to lot-split your present lot though and create 2 single-family home lots. But the particulars of that could get interesting. I'm sure people in the city would be really happy to help you out though. At the end of the day most of them love our older homes and would love to see more of them preserved in this fashion. 

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That's the short of it. 
If you're still interested, let me know what you find out. While I've only lifted and lowered my house to preserve and secure the home. I've had some friends out-of-state move their mid-century house and it's now lived in by a family a few dozen miles away. It's quite the ordeal and usually done in a single night, but I think it's a really worthwhile re-use of our existing housing stock. 

Best of luck, and let me know if you have any further questions!

/RNA Land Use & Transportation Committee Chair