Family moves to SE Portland – house and all

Take a look, and you’ll see this wasn’t a little cottage traveling from Clackamas, all the way up to SE Portland. Find out what it took – and why – the new neighbors chose to move an entire house onto their lot, instead of building one …

The trip for this house begins in Clackamas. Here, it’s coming north on 82nd Ave. of Roses, near Clackamas Town Center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A couple of weeks ago, a new family moved into SE Portland. The McGaws haven’t actually started living in their yellow, full-size ranch-style house on SE 45th Avenue that rolled onto their lot on this misty morning. But, as soon as the building’s foundation, plumbing and electrical service is installed, they’ll move in their belongings.

“You’re not the first person to ask if our belongings moved with the house,” said new homeowner Sebastian McGaw with a smile. “I don’t think the house movers wanted to stop by our old house on Mt. Tabor to load up our furniture.”

Utility crews measure (thin white pole, just in front of the house) to make sure the house had the needed clearance of 19’4”.

The McGaw’s home was “parked” in Clackamas when they bought it. “We purchased the property, knowing that the house was on it had to be demolished – was condemned, said lady-of-the-house Maud Whalen. “We considered building a new home, but then considered the possibility of moving already-built house here. This seemed like an environmentally lower-impact way to go.”

Hires internationally-famous mover
To move the home, the couple turned to Emmert International – a company that’s consistently won awards for rigging and moving huge machines – and buildings.

Supervisor of their Structural Moving Division, Layne Nelson with Emmert International, oversees every inch of the house’s move.

“Economically, moving a house to a lot, as opposed to building one, makes a lot of sense,” commented Layne Nelson, Emmert International’s supervisor of their Structural Moving Division.

“A homeowner can save as much as 50%, even with the moving costs,” noted Nelson. “And, many people also consider the ‘green’ savings – reusing a home, instead of dumping it into a landfill, piece by piece.”

Welcome to Portland! The driver moves to the north side of the street, to clear overhead utility wires.

The house moves to the south side of 82nd Ave. of Roses to clear the traffic signals.

More than a big truck needed
Emmert International stocks and builds specialized equipment to move buildings, like the 50 tons home they delivered to SE Portland, Nelson told us.

“But it takes more than having a big truck to move a house,” Nelson said. “We get building permits for the existing house. Then, we get a moving permit due to the building permit.”

Their next step is to map out a route to the new location. “We have to make sure that the roads are wide enough, and there’s enough overhead clearance,” Nelson outlined.

Slowly and carefully, the house rounds the corner at SE Flavel St. in the Lents Neighborhood to head west.

It’s a tight fit – side to side – as the house travels west on SE Flavel St at SE 70th Ave.

Turning from SE Harney Rd. northbound onto SE 45th Avenue is a very tight squeeze.

Then, they put especially-engineered steel beams under the structure, put dollies under the beams and roll it down the road. “I know we make it seem easy, but there’s really quite a bit involved. The steel underneath must be installed correctly, to keep it level, reducing cracking. It’s like a traveling foundation; sturdy enough that one could live in it.”

Before they take the house on the road, Nelson continued, they work with power, telephone and cable-TV utilities – and highway traffic signal jurisdictions – to plan out the route. Emmert also secures permits to close down roads as the house rolls through the area.

The grade increases on SE 45th Ave. as the house approaches SE Flavel Drive.

Takes no chances coming up 45th Ave.
And yes, they do have a big truck. Nelson said it’s a 1970s era International Harvester “Prime Mover”. “The motor is geared so low, that in first gear, top speed is a mile-an-hour. But, we can get houses going down the road safely at up to 35 mph.”

Their trip north on SE 82nd Ave. of Roses was a straight shot up from Clackamas. They crept around corners when they turned west on SE Flavel St. and south on SE 52nd Ave. as well as the corners at SE Harney and turning north again on SE 45th Avenue.

“But then, we needed to make it up the hill on SE 45th Ave.,” recalls Nelson “That was a substantial grade. We had our heavy-duty piling truck right behind it, just in case it got loose, to stabilize it – but we didn’t need it.”

An excavator pulls the house – while the piling truck pushes it – into the house’s new home.

Using a bucket excavator pulling, and the piling truck pushing, the house rolled down on steel ramps, into place on the lot.

Having started at sunrise, by noon, the neighborhood had one newly recycled house in place. “The project went well,” Nelson said. For more information about Emmert International, see their website: CLICK HERE.

Meet the new neighbors: Sebastian Maia and Julian McGaw, and Maud Whalen are on hand as their new home is “installed”.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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