Historic homes designed by famous architects typically fetch a killing on the market, particularly if they’re in affluent neighborhoods. This is all the more reason why one such house in Montclair, NJ, designed by Dudley S. Van Antwerp has everyone talking due to its bargain-basement price: $10.
You read that right: Ten. Whole. Dollars.
So what’s the catch? There has to be one, right?
It turns out you can’t just toss down a tenner and move in. First, you’ll have to lift this 3,912-square-foot mansion off its foundation and move it to an entirely new location.
This might have you wondering: How do you move a whole house?
Why move a house?
Moving a house might sound like a Herculean feat, but it’s actually more common than you might guess. Landmark buildings and churches are sometimes moved for a number of reasons, typically because the land under them is being developed. Yet the structure’s historic significance means it’s worth salvaging rather than razing it to the ground.
In this case, the house—a four-bedroom, two-bathroom built in 1906—is one of about 500 in the area designed by Antwerp, who lives in the area. Currently the property is owned by Ann Lewis, who put it on the market in May 2015 for $1,400,000.
Nearly a year later, in April, news surfaced that the home was sold to BNE Real Estate Group, a developer with plans to demolish the house and subdivide the 2.7-acre property into eight lots, each containing a single-family home, according to northjersey.com. After all, eight homes total far larger profits than one large home.
But given the home’s historic significance, the Montclair City Planning Board approved the developer’s plans on the condition that it first advertise the house in local papers for 60 days in an attempt to find a buyer willing to move it within a quarter-mile of where it stands today. The deadline for offers is Aug. 31; if no one steps forward by then, the wrecking ball can start swinging.
In an effort to attract a buyer, the developer listed the house for the bargain-basement price of $10. Meanwhile, the seller is willing to kick in $10,000 to help move it.
Still, the question remains: How do you move a house, and how much would it cost?
How to move a house
The first step to relocating a house is to dig up the foundation, then wedge steel beams just beneath the home’s frame. Once the beams are in place, hydraulic jacks at each corner lift the structure about 4 feet—just high enough for it to be placed on the bed of a trailer so it can be driven to its new site and placed on a new foundation.
Sound like a pricey endeavor? It is.
“Assuming we have a clear move route, the cost to move this house would be between $75,000 and $100,000,” says Ben Brovont, an estimator with Wolfe House & Building Movers. And the expenses don’t end there.
Brovont explains that companies like his are responsible solely for picking up and moving the house.
“There is also a general contractor involved who would oversee preparing the new foundation,” he says. The move might also require that you trim trees and move power lines to clear the route to the home’s final destination.
You’ll also need a plot of land to put it on, of course.
Brovont says moving a house this size a quarter-mile would take about two or three weeks, with the whole project lasting about two to three months.
All of this is a long way of saying that while this $10 house might seem like a bargain—especially considering the house’s estimated value (minus the value of the land) is a little over $435,000—to get the true cost, you’ll have to factor in the move.
Still, though, it really would be a shame to see such a beautiful house demolished. If you have the land and the budget, why not weigh the pros and cons of saving this house from its flattened fate?