SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — When an entire house moves, you can’t just pack it up in a box.
Sioux Falls Police Sgt. Travis Olsen said moving a house requires a network of partners that starts with a city permit.
The permit involves about 10 entities such as police and utility companies, Olsen said.
If the move requires using county roads or state highways, the county highway department and county sheriff and the state patrol would also be involved, said John Euchner, the operations manager for Southeastern Electric Cooperative of Marion.
The partners need the height, weight and other factors about the house along with a moving route.
When a house is moved it may cross under utility lines that need to be lifted to accommodate the height of the house or traffic signals may need to be lifted and even stopped while the house passes through an intersection.
“Before the house gets to a new site the (mover or owner) needs to submit a route plan,” Euchner said. “We go out in the field and check crossings…”
A utility crew will note where power lines may need to be lifted and any other needed accommodations.
Ideally, “We’d like two more weeks (notice). The more time we get the better,” Euchner said.
Ted Smith, the vice president of operations and engineering for Sioux Valley Energy, said the cooperative likes ample notice.
“State law requires at least 48 hours’ notice,” Smith said.
Justia Law website said the appropriate person “Provides no less than forty-eight hours notice, which notice shall be calculated as two working days of the utility.”
House moves “are incredibly disruptive,” Smith said.
The cooperatives want to limit any possible power outages but there are times when there may be a short outage when a line is lifted, Smith said.
The most important thing is safety, Smith said, because no one wants a utility line hit during a house move.
House moves make permanent changes
Euchner and Smith said their cooperatives work with companies that manufacture homes that must be moved from the factor to a permanent location.
Southeastern has been working to upgrade transmission lines and related equipment on routes frequently used by home manufacturers, Euchner said. “We’ve been picking away for the last 15 or 20 years…,” he said.
The same with Sioux Valley, Smith said.
Lines and equipment are modified to accommodate the height and size of those manufactured homes, “so they don’t have to keep paying us every week or every month to move a house,” Smith said.
Why are those always police when a house is moved?
Sioux Falls Police also need to know the route and other features of the house.
“The traffic safety aspect is my concern,” OIsen said.
On average it takes four to six officers to move one house, Olsen said. “…it depends on the route that’s going to be used and how big the house is,” he said. It can take only three to four or as many as seven, he said.
If the house has many roof pitches, then there is a good chance traffic signals will need to be raised and police need to be posted at those intersections. Railroad crossings also require more police.
There are times when a house mover will “hop out of the truck to verify the house can clear the signal,” Olsen said.
“I need to block those intersections because of the potential for workers to be in the street,” Olsen said.
Two houses were moved in Sioux Falls on March 24. One was moved from Pam Road and the other was moved from near the intersection of 33rd Street and Minnesota Avenue. Both houses traveled down Minnesota Avenue to Russell Street and then headed west on Russell until Marion Road. The houses were both taken down Bent Grass Court to a residential subdivision, just off Marion Road.
If a mover doesn’t plan ahead for a move it could mean waiting on the side of the road.
Euchner said most moving companies do submit a route plan well in advance. Still, there are times when a mover works with a neighboring utility but the route may change on the day because of road construction.
If the house is too tall to fit under a utility line on the new route in a different utility cooperatives’ service area, it may need to wait, even up to a few hours, until the cooperative can come and lift the line, Euchner said.
Homeowners will pay more than the moving company
Moving a house will require a permit.
If the move requires using a state road, a state permit is needed from the Highway Patrol anytime they travel on a state road. The basic fee for the permit is $25. If overweight, there could be additional charges for ton-mile fee,” said Tony Mangan of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.
The city charges the moving company or owner for the cost of the police department’s time during the move, Olsen said.
Utility companies such as Southeastern also charge for the time and equipment used during a house move.
Euchner said Southeastern has a member and non-member rate. Cooperative members are charged $65 an hour for labor while non-members are charged $80 an hour. The equipment charge for all is $100 an hour.
The cooperative charges enough to cover the cost so that cooperative members are not paying for the move of the house, Euchner said.
Sioux Valley Energy also charges an hourly labor rate and an hourly equipment rate, Smith said. Just as with Southeastern, the charges cover the cost and no profit.
South Dakota law says cooperatives can require a deposit before the move is done. The deposit would cover the estimated cost of the move and not any profit, according to Justia.
Euchner said if the estimate is too high, money is refunded. If the estimate is too low, the cooperative and submit a new bill.
Smith said many house moves can take a day but some can take two or more days.
The longer the route or the more days it takes increases the cost.
A house move may also require the mover to work with several different cooperatives, Smith said.
Why down Minnesota Avenue?
“Some moves get so big, not just houses but grain bins and barns, they they need to shut the road down,” Euchner said.
The city did not need to shut down Minnesota Avenue on the morning of March 24.
Olsen said some may question why two houses were moved down Minnesota Avenue just after 9 in the morning.
When all factors are considered, “Unfortunately Minnesota Avenue is often the best choice,” Olsen said.
The size and weight of the house again are key when a route is considered.
Even the potential damage to trees is considered when a house is moved, Olsen said.
Ideally, the straightest route is the desired route “but you can’t always do it,” Olsen said.
A new home for a moved home
It’s not unusual for folks to take videos or photos of a house being moved.
Olsen said the families who will be moving into the moved home can often be among those taking video or photos.
“It’s an exciting time,” Olsen said.
Some families have been in need and waiting for this home and “it’s gratifying to see the family acquiring the house,” Olsen said. “They’ve come out and taken pictures before the move and then, after.”
Although a house move may be disruptive, the move does give houses a new life, Smith said.
That includes houses that were once moved from the Sanford Health neighborhood when the health care system expanded its campus, Smith said.
Moving a house preserves some of South Dakota’s character, he said.
More moves coming
Olsen said there will be more houses moved this summer than in most prior summers.
Several projects within the city will include moving houses from one neighborhood to another, Olsen said.