Incentives needed for people to recycle homes over demolishing: Calgary mover

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Calgary home mover calls for incentives to encourage people to recycle homes
Within the last two years, more than 1,000 homes have been demolished in Calgary to make way for new houses. Only 61 of those were saved and moved to another location at a time when the city continues to face a housing crisis. Carolyn Kury de Castillo witnessed the painstaking process of moving an entire home. – May 25, 2024

Houses are being demolished throughout Calgary’s inner city to make way for new homes, but only a small number of houses are being spared, according to city statistics.

Figures provided by the City of Calgary show that only five per cent of the homes being removed from sites move to another location.

“There’s so much rebuilding in the city of Calgary with all those great inner-city lots,”  said Jaylene LaRose, co-owner of Wade’s House Moving.

“There’s a lot of demand for it and there’s demand on our end as well with people looking for really good quality recycled homes.”

Issued Permit CountSingle Family House DemolishedSingle Family House MovedTotal
Grand Total1,092611,153

Crews from LaRose’s company come in to strip the basement of the home. After that, beams are inserted, and the house is put onto a jack to lift it off the foundation.

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LaRose said an average 1,200-square-foot bungalow weighs approximately 35 tonnes. With a blocking system that looks like a Jenga game, workers raise the house with a hydraulic jack system.

“That raises the house in a unified way where it’s all level so there’s no structural stress on the house,” LaRose said.

In the case of a house in Cambrian Heights in northwest Calgary that moved to a community near Taber, Alta., workers spun the house around to save a city tree.

The house is slid out and then placed onto the beams, supporting it as it travels to its new destination in Burdett, Alta., where it will soon be home to another family.

Permits and preparation work are required before the move, ensuring the house fits under wires and cars aren’t parked on the route.

LaRose said business has shifted over the years from moving buildings and barns to recycling houses.

“Fifteen years ago, we would do maybe 30 per cent of that and 70 per cent moving buildings, and now probably 80 per cent of our business is our recycled house sales,” she said.

“Everything is just so expensive, so to be able to find a home and have it set up for a fraction of the cost of building or buying new is just huge.”

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LaRose said it can often be in the landowner’s best interest cost-wise to have the home moved.

But not every home is wanted as is, she said.

“We do look at anywhere between four to six homes a week,” LaRose said.

“We do have to reject many because of either the condition and the cost of moving outweighs the recycle value.”

Tons of waste are spared from going into landfills by moving a home, LaRose said.

She said it would make sense for incentives to be offered to homeowners to encourage them to recycle.

“The pricing of all the services keep going up every year, which makes us raise our cost,” LaRose said.

“You would think in an industry like this where we are saving so much and with the environment and recycling that there would maybe be some grants or incentives not only for our company, but for the landowners that could help fund the overall process that could make it happen even more.”

Many recycled houses have moved from urban centres like Calgary and Edmonton to smaller towns in Alberta, Saskatchewan and eastern B.C.

LaRose said recycling homes can help address the housing crisis in those cities because they are often replaced with multi-family dwellings like duplexes.


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