HJ/EDHerald Journal, Dec. 5, 2005

Economy and saving money lead people to consider moving a house

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

Citing the economy and a way to save money, professional house mover Paul Otting said people can purchase an already built home at a fraction of what it costs to have a new one built – and have it moved to the lot of their choice.

Otting has moved homes throughout the entire area, and said he has moved homes for Gordon Birkholz, and also for the Otto family in Winsted years ago.

“We moved one to the east side of Lester Prairie, behind the county maintenance shed, that came from Maple Grove,” he said. Otting also has placed some homes in Waverly, along Highway 12, years ago, and has moved some homes out of Waverly.

“It just depends on the house,” Otting said. “Some go fast. Some are very time-consuming.”

Otting, who owns Otting House Moving with his brothers, Bill and John, has “temporary layover” lots in Silver Lake, Mora, and Grove City, where homeowners can keep their homes until the necessary permits and ground work have been completed.

These lots also serve as a show room for homes the company purchases to sell to prospective buyers, and eventually, move to another permanent location.

Otting said his company buys houses from all over the state, and said a majority of them come out of the Twin Cities area.

“Most people don’t have any idea where to start,” Otting said, recommending people call the county and ask, or stop by a county seat to pick up information on home moving.

The company, which was started by Otting’s father, Bill Otting Sr., in the 1960s, has been based out of Lakeville since its inception. Currently, there are six employees, and the Ottings also hire on additional part-time help in the summer months.

“We move between 40 and 70 houses a year,” he said, adding it takes about four hours to move a home 50 miles, and about two or three days to load the home. “We work year-round, but the weather is a big dictator in our business.”

“We try to do everything in an orderly fashion, but that doesn’t always seem to work,” he said with a laugh.

Just what does it take to move a house?

Houses are usually loaded onto steel beams, which is called the main frame, Otting said.

The house is pulled with a truck tractor that has a fifth wheel pin attached to it. On the back are “dollies” that are steerable, and have breaks, he said. The entire load ends up being approximately 30 feet wide by 60 feet long.

“We do a lot of our work at night because of traffic,” Otting said, noting that a police escort is used in front of the truck pulling the house, and a private vehicle brings up the rear. He said power lines and things of that nature “haven’t been a problem.”

He said it is very important to map out the route the homemover is going to take before actually making the trip, to see if there are any obstacles such as bridges, low wires, and narrow streets. Otting added that for night moves, his company lights up the home by shining spotlights on it.

“It looks like a big light bulb going down the road,” he said. “We’ve been pretty lucky, knock on wood,” he said, adding that about the only problem with a move that he can recall in his years of home moving has been flat tires.

For precautionary reasons, the house movers wear safety glasses and are constantly upgrading their cables and chains.

“It’s something we take a lot of precaution in,” he said. “We try to give people the best service we can.”

The company obtains all the necessary permits that come with moving a house, but says it is the responsibility of the homeowner, if it is not the company, to get the necessary building permits to do the work once the house hits its new permanent location.

For more information on house moving, contact Otting at (952) 461-3265.

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