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Turning over and moving a 2-story Pump House

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I am moving a 2-story 10x10 pumphouse 6 miles into town and want to set it
up in town (Modesto, CA) as a storage and possibly guest bedroom if allowed.
Will add outdoor stairway.

The problem is how to slow its descent when I pull it over without using a
fancy crane. A mover estimated it would take $1800 to use a crane to pick it
up, put it on a trailer, move it and set it back up. He hasn't been able to
give me a final price for the last week or so. I'm trying to save money and
time. I plan to move it horizontally on a flatbed trailer. I have already
had a pre-move inspection and am getting ready to move it or at least take
it down.

It was probably built around 1900 and uses balloon framing with 2x4's and
4x4's full length, fireblocking, 2x3 diagonal blocking, 1x6 redwood
vee-groove siding. No plaster or sheetrock. Aluminum roofing. Estimated
weight 5200 pounds total. Window sashes will be removed prior to move.
20'-3" tall.  Will add temporary bracing and strap ties.

One idea is piling a large dirt pile to one side with an inclined broad flat
surface facing the puilding. Install a stand and hinge point 4' high so the
building will pivot 4' high above the near edge. Pull the building over and
let it fall several feet into the dirt.  A bit drastic. Dig out dirt until
the building falls level. Prop it and drive trailer under.

Another idea to slow its descent is to build some kind of big A-frame with
block and tackle.  Or use a heavy duty forklift, such as a Gradeall (which
has a lifting capacity of about 7000 pounds).

Time is of the essence as the building needs to be down so the Owner can
apply for a permit on the building that will stand where the pumphouse was.
The county is not allowing us to apply for a building permit for a new house
until the existing house and buildings are demolished.

These pump houses were used before rural electrification in the central
valley of California. Typically they were 3-stories tall with a big
sheet-metal open-topped tank on the top floor. A windmill attached to the
side of the building pumped water into the tank where it gravity fed the
house nearby. Lowest floor was used as a utility room. The middle floor (now
top floor) was used as a bedroom, probably for a field hand.  They have some
historical interest and character and are dissapearing and inexpensive to

Sorry to be so wordy.  Any further ideas on how to take it down and put it
back up?

Gary M. Wheeler, AIA, Architect/General Contractor
American Architecture Service.  Try our Web Page at