A Radical Move

I always love that legendary story about the football player who becomes miffed at the neighborhood kids he’s trying to play football with.  They give him such a rough time in one way or another, maybe his playing skills, tackling him with excessive force, or clothing,  that he decides going home is more fun than trying to play with the gang.  That’s fine with the gang except for one thing.  This dip of a kid owns the football.  Now, I’m not implying I’m miffed over not being allowed to play football down the street, but what I am saying is that this location we’re in has problems and we’ve had it.  Try as I did to work with the circumstances, there was nothing that would make this old  foundation behave.  So we’ve made the big decision – bitten the bullet, as they say. We’re taking the house and going home.

Pondering a schoolhouse Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

Pondering a schoolhouse
Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

Deciding to move a house is a radical decision, one not taken lightly.  Before even tackling the question of cost, the why and the how must be answered.  Last week’s column looked at the why from the foundation perspective.  There are other reasons for a move, of course.  One of the most common is a changing neighborhood.  New or expanding industry can cause all sorts of disruptions including noise, odors, and destruction of natural greenery that may have previously acted as a shield.  Zoning practices are weak in many parts of the country leaving property owners with few options.  A changing natural environment is another.  This can include unstable land or flooding.  Flooding of an extreme type – tidal – resulted in the decision to move the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 1999.  In a spectacular event, the lighthouse was relocated 2,900 feet back from its original 1870 location.

Building movers are often called riggers.  The term rigger comes out of the sailing era, when ropes moved everything from cargo to sail.  The term, delightfully, has remained in industry.  The rigger we have hired is lucky, which makes us even luckier.  They have no overhead wires, trees, or streets to contend with.  No rail crossing to negotiate.  Not even neighbor’s property to be mindful of, or need permission to cross.  Any one of these factors can make or break a house move, especially the cost of raising utility wires.  Often this aspect alone is insanely expensive and can break a whole project before it ever gets off the ground, so to speak.  In our case, none of these entered the equation.  Our schoolhouse dacha was being moved from one point to another point all on our own land.    We had no wires or trees to be concerned with, only our own shrubs and plants to evacuate to safety.   In terms of cost?  All these factors made the difference between a project that was possible – or utterly out of the question.  The most basic things were the only consideration.  More on what these entail next week.

But the final element in the decision to move our house came from the riggers themselves.  The cost of jacking the house up was everything to them.  Because the house is raised up with hydraulics and computerized leveling on tires that can roll, the house could go anywhere on our property at no additional cost.  It made no difference in the quote.  That did it for us.  Armed with that “no cost” advantage it was easy to envision the dacha schoolhouse move as a fait accompli on a superior part of the property.

“Why didn’t they build the schoolhouse on that little hillock back in 1837?”

“I don’t know.  They should’ve.”

“Best spot.  Just look at the view from here.”

“Maybe that’s it.”

“That’s what?”

“The view.  Those kids were supposed to look at books, not views.”

“You’ve got a point there.”

The view is better than the book.   "Kept In"  by Edward Lamson Henry Public Domain

The view is better than the book.
“Kept In” by Edward Lamson Henry
Public Domain

Whatever the reason for the present location of the old place of learning, we don’t mind.  A decision made in the early 19th century resulted in a bad foundation in a mediocre location by the early 21st century.  We’ve chosen to fix both.

1837 to 2015.  That’s a mighty long time for things in this country.  In a land where too much is lost to what is thought to be new and better, especially school buildings, this original one-room schoolhouse is about to gain a whole new lease on a very very long life.  We’re taking it with us and going home.