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Checklist of Tasks for a Smooth House Move

February 18, 1990

Here are the main steps in the house-moving process:

* Find the lot. Recruit realtors to help, scan the newspaper's classified section for lots-for-sale by owner and track down empty lots and their owners. Research the potential of the area you are moving to.

Choose an improved, flat city lot or one that has a level building pad. Know its legal description, sewer and gas access, zoning and setback requirements, whether any liens or easements exist and if move-ons are approved for the area; check local parking requirements and height restrictions.

* Find the house. Houses may be found through the classified section in newspapers, public auctions, a move-on broker or house movers. Unless the buyer wants a structure of historic value, it is best to pick a house built after 1950 to lessen chances of dry-rot and other problems connected with the age of a building.

Choose one that is compatible with the neighborhood and the site; find out whether it is a complex move that requires several cuts to the building and consider the improvement-to-land ratio in the area and potential resale of similar properties.

* Get a permit. Each city requires a valid permit to move a building. Applicants must apply with the relocation division of the Building & Safety Department and provide the permit office with a simple plot plan indicating site and house measurements and proposed siting of the move-on.

Within five to 10 working days, a relocation inspector will inspect the lot and the structure to be moved. Permits are valid for 120 days. Permit fees for a move within the city run $480 for a dwelling up to 2,500 square feet, and $180 for each 10,000 additional square feet; when a building is relocated from the county to the city of Los Angeles, an additional permit fee of $300 must be paid.

* Purchase a bond. A completion or performance bond is required as part of the move-on process, at a value determined by the city that is usually 65% of the house plus 10%. A completion bond is obtained from a bonding company or insurance company.

* Find a lender. Relocation loans are not in the mainstream of real estate investment. The sources are limited and the costs are usually high. Relocating a building is more complicated because one is not borrowing on a "packaged deal" but on a lot and a house in separate locations, with the concurrent costs of getting them together and rehabilitated to meet the requirements of the local municipality.

House movers usually know which lenders are familiar with move-on loans and are willing to provide them.

* Hire a house mover. Once a city permit number has been issued, the house mover begins his work. The house is split, jacked up, and steel beams are placed under it. Dollies with wheels are then slipped under the structure to make it mobile. Moves occur at night, between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., as required by law.

When the house arrives at the site, it is positioned at a predetermined spot and "cribbed up"--sustained by a framework--to allow the contractor to pour the foundation.

The mover returns to lower the house onto the foundation.

* Choose a contractor. Contractors, as well as house movers, should be bonded and insured. The contractor begins by building a new foundation on the new site based on the footprint of the move-on. He will also "sew up the building," renovate and hook up the structure's plumbing and wiring to bring it up to code and ready to function. The same contractor may also be contracted to do the landscaping.

* Get certificate of occupancy. To get a certificate of occupancy for a move-on (a city requirement) all repairs listed by the relocation inspector must be fulfilled.

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