Moving houses ‘all part of job’
Crew readies Main Street building for new home in country
To hear Clifford Tessendorf talk about his work, the casual listener might think his job entailed nothing more interesting than the simple moving of goods from one place to another.
Tessendorf and his crew at Valley Moving L.L.C. of Wamego move houses. Eleven days ago, they started removing the house at 208 N. Main St. and readying it for a move into rural Leavenworth County.
Tessendorf, a crew foreman, has been moving houses full-time for 30 years. He said he didn't see anything that difficult or amazing about his work.
"When you've been doing this for as long as I have, it's all part of the job," Tessendorf said. "It keeps us busy year-round."
The house at 208 N. Main St. is awaiting a permit from the city of Leavenworth before the crew can transport it, Tessendorf said. Danny Asher, a Leavenworth businessman, sold the house to make room for a strip mall on the lot it occupied.
Moving a house requires separating and lifting it from its foundation with hydraulic jacks and sliding it onto a flatbed truck over soaped plywood boards with another truck's winch, Tessendorf said. Before this is done, the crew must disconnect the electrical wires, plumbing and cables. Often crossbeams must be laid underneath the house to rest on the truck bed for the move. The most difficult part, Tessendorf said, may be ensuring that the house is seated so that it is balanced evenly on the truck's bed.
The truck used by Tessendorf's crew can handle up to about 100 tons, said Jack Scott, who has worked with Tessendorf for four years. Other than that, the only limitation on what kind of house they can move is height: about 16 feet is the maximum limit for making it under telephone wires and cables in most towns.
Rachel Turner, Leavenworth resident, bought the house at 208 Main St. She said she would save about $30,000 compared to what it would cost to build a house on her property at 19181 Bauserman Road.
The crew began work on the house on April 25. Since last Thursday, the house has been sitting on the truck next to its former foundation. It's ready for its move. The crew originally had planned to move the house via Eisenhower Road, but a road construction project may force the crew to use another, much longer route along Main Street and county roads.
But the job isn't all bureaucratic hassles and brute physics.
Scott said, "I sometimes find old stuff like newspapers, marbles and cans" under the houses. The house at 208 Main St. yielded an antique Budweiser can and some newspapers from the 1950s.
Tessendorf said the house should be moved by Tuesday.