Diane Myer and her fiance, Mel Kite, thought about building their vacation home on Anderson Island, but the steep price scared them off.
So they’ve decided to float one over from Seattle.
“It’s going to be a nail-biter,” Myer said before the 60-mile move, which took their house through the Ballard Locks in Seattle and under the Tacoma Narrows bridges.
The move started Jan. 20 and the home arrived at Anderson Island early Friday (Jan. 27).
The Puyallup couple launched the project because they wanted a weekend escape from the noise of the city and the fast pace of their longtime jobs at Boeing where Myer, 53, works on the wing assembly line and Kite, 47, is a graveyard shift tooler.
On Anderson Island, Myer said, “It’s a whole different life than what we have on the mainland. All you hear is the birds singing.”
Building a home on an island is more expensive than on the mainland, and in this case would have cost more than $600,000, Myer said. Plus the couple would have had to wait a year before construction could start because of the wait list for local contractors.
“That wasn’t going to work for me,” Myer said.
She also considered a manufactured home but changed her mind when she Googled “house move” in November and found several houses for sale on the website of Nickel Bros, a British Columbia-based structural mover with offices in Everett.
The winner turned out to be a three-bedroom, 1941 Cape Cod-style home, with new wiring and plumbing, in northeast Seattle.
Its 2,300-square-foot size was perfect for what the couple needed, Myer said, and when they walked through the 76-year-old home at its original location, they noted the hardwood floors, crown molding and laundry chute.
“Man,” Myer said, “this is beautiful.”
The couple bought the house — for $140,000, including shipping — last month. Shortly before that, they paid $20,000 for two lots facing the golf course at the Riviera Community Club.
“I love the look of the golf course, but I don’t want to do lawn work,” Myer said. (She doesn’t golf, but Kite wants to learn.)
The price — $160,000 plus costs for tree removal and permits to remove and replace utility wires in two cities — was perfect, Myer said.
“We didn’t want to put too much money into it, but we wanted something nice,” she said.
Before the couple could have their house moved, there was paperwork to handle. Nickel Bros helped get a state permit that authorized a special beach landing close to their lot on Anderson Island.
“This to me was a challenge,” Myer said.
Nickel Bros, she said, “came to the rescue.”
Work to prepare a house for moving starts several weeks to months before the move.
Holes are cut in the foundation, and workers slide through steel beams in parallel rows under the home. That forms a temporary foundation during the truck and barge journey.
On moving day, hydraulic jacks lower the house onto dollies that resemble airplane tires. A 10-person crew rigs the dollies to the back of a semitruck, which pulls the house at walking pace to the barge.
Utility workers remove and replace wires that block the home on the route.
Moving a building by barge can be unpredictable, especially because of the weather.
The delivery date for Myer and Kite’s home was delayed from Monday to later in the week after Nickel Bros said conditions on Anderson Island might not have been ideal — not too cold or damp — for the steep climb up a hill to the new home site.
When everything looked good, Nickel Bros began the move late Jan. 20. Neighbors gathered to watch and later walk alongside the home.
The crew placed plywood sheets under the dolly tires for traction. The wood cracked as the semitrailer pulled the 95,000-pound home up the hill.
Myer said she panicked at the sound.
“I thought it was the house,” she said. “I’m still running on adrenaline from that night.”
The 1.6-mile journey from north of the University of Washington to Magnuson Park on Lake Washington took a little less than eight hours.
The semitruck backed the home up 40-foot-long steel ramps onto the barge deck as the sun rose.
Within two hours, the home had sailed through the Ballard Locks and into the Puget Sound as Myers and Kite looked on from the shore.
On Friday, the home arrived at Anderson Island safe and sound and spent the night at the marina parking lot, waiting for a second semitrailer to move it to its final location Saturday.
One truck will pull the home and one will push up a steep hill as it travels 1.1 miles to its final spot at 11123 Country Club Drive, where a foundation will be built beneath the house.
“Having to go from that marina up that hill,” Myer said, “I’m going to be a wreck.”
She inspected the home Friday and found a few cracks in the paint, but there didn’t seem to be any structural damage.
She and Kite plan to move in by spring at the earliest.
“Would I do it again?” Myer said of the trip her new home took. “In a second.”