Friday, October 22, 2010

3 Tips for Determining if Your House Was Moved

Do you suspect that your older home was moved  from another location?  Moving homes was fairly common a hundred or more years ago.  They were lifted off of their existing foundations and moved down the road or to another part of town. Another way to move houses is to dismantle them and reconstruct them in another location.  I'll talk about that method in a future post.

Here are three tips that will give you clues as to whether your house was moved or not.

1) Check the basement foundation

If you live in an older home in New England then you will very likely have a fieldstone foundation.  Fieldstone is a foundation made of  large rocks.  If you live in an old home but your foundation is made of bricks, cinder blocks or poured concrete then it very likely was moved.

2) Check for chimneys and fireplaces

Chimneys and fireplaces were and still are very difficult to move intact.  The process of moving them is also very expensive.  For this reason, many chimneys were taken down before a house was moved.  If you have what looks like a very old house but you are lacking in chimneys then your house is a good candidate for having been moved. Also, if you do have chimneys check to see if they are of modern brick in the case that they were rebuilt.

3) Check an old map
Does the feel of your house suggest that is 100 years or older?  If your house was moved then it would be a fairly recent transplant to the land that it sits on.  Look at old maps of your town from before 1920 or whenever you suspect the house was moved.  If a 1900 map shows no house on the land but you think your house was possibly built much earlier then perhaps it was moved. Be careful not consider this as definitive proof.  There could have been another house on the property before yours that was demolished. In that case a house would appear on earlier maps on the same plot of land.


  1. How about numbers on the beams? The Londonderry Historical Society has already moved three buildings to it's museum location, and one barn already had the beams numbered so it was easy to re-assemble. One was moved on a flatbed truck. There are three more houses (in storage, all three in pieces) and one was numbered, and the other two were done with a modern numbering system so they will go up easier...

  2. Funny you should mention that. As I was writing this post I was also thinking about houses that are dissembled and thinking I should do another post on those. In this particular case I was writing about houses that are transported intact by lifting them off of their foundation. Maybe I should add a note to make it more clear.