Thursday, January 12, 2017

Taking your home with you when you move

This post is inspired by an an Amercian TV series currently being shown on French television* about buying, transporting and renovating timber based affordable homes which can be sited wherever you want.

Much of the action shown takes place around Forth Worth (Texas) and features a series of entrepreneurs - a young couple husband and wife team, two sisters of a certain age, and a fearsome grandfather working solo - who buy up decrepit wooden homes sold at auction (sight unseen, buyers were not allowed inside until after purchase) and rarely costing $200 and often much less.

The secret is that the properties are large enough to include one or two bedrooms - but are transportable using a wide-load trailer and benefiting from the areas major highways. The journeys are generally around 50 miles, with an obligatory police escort, and in only one case it was found necessary to saw the building in two (it was T-shaped) and transport it in two loads. Average cost of transport including a police escort was around $5,000.

Back at base the entrepreneur(s) then proceed to convert and renovate the wooden structure, paying particularly attention to the floor and foundations, the ceilings and roof, plumbing and electrics etc - but rarely spending more than $10,000 to transform the property into a desirable small home.

On completion the wooden home is then sold agan at auction, for prices averaging around $20,000 and occasionally reaching $30,000 or more for a particularly large or attractive model. Buyers than were faced with the cost of further transporting the property to their own site and placing it onto the necessary concrete foundations, and connecting to the main services. As a result they ended up owning a desirable new property for a fraction of the normal costs of a bricks-and-mortar version on an estate.

A colleague who spoke to me about this type of housing solution said it was common in some parts of Australia for owners of this type of property to transport it by wide-loader to where they wished to move , enabling them to continue living in their existing home in which they had already invested.

It should go without saying that politicians and planners should be bold enough to permit alternatives such as those shown in the American programme. Note finally that the average $30,000 to $45,000 cost is about one-tenth of the prices being quoted for the British 'garden villages' recently announced by the Conservative government.

* French channel 6ter (22) Sundays from 11.00am 'Rénovation impossible'

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