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Measure twice, and cut once. Cutting a house into 3 pieces.  RSS feed

Posts: 7139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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This U-shaped house had to be cut in preparation for transporting it to a new location. U-shaped things don't travel down the highway very well, while rectangles do. This house will be set up in the same configuration as it is currently. One wing will be set 8 feet to the side of the cut line. This will allow the new house to have a larger kitchen than what currently exists. The new owners business involves people with disabilities living with them. A big sprawling rancher with no stairs , makes sense for them, more than it would for most small families. The greatly enlarged kitchen will also be sort of a meeting room. It separates the family wing from the guest wing.
My job is to cut the building cleanly , so so that it can be put back together without too much difficulty. This means having nice clean cut lines. Buildings must be cut in a manner that will not allow any portion to collapse during transport. The location of floor joist, headers and trusses must be taken into account when choosing the cut line. Once a path is chosen , I must be sure that a suitable path between joists on the floor, does not involve cutting through a roof truss or any other important component. We want to almost always be cutting through only the sheeting materials that lie between framing members.

 I charge more for this than my only competitor does. I get the work because of my record of never screwing this up. The other guy has got it wrong , which quickly made his slightly cheaper price, not look so cheap after all.

The electricity has already been turned off at this house, so I did it all using my cordless Makita tools. Everything was done with my circular saw and reciprocating saw.

Chalk lines are very important. Doorway frames and bulkheads must be notched out to make a clear path for the line. Once there is a good line, a steady hand is required. Cut lines are not necessarily always square. On this house, both lines we're set up to be a given distance from walls that run in the right direction. The Carpenters putting the house back together, will appreciate this.

 Drywall is always cut with the reciprocating saw , using a fine tooth metal and wood blade. It cuts well with a circular saw, but the saw draws in massive amounts of drywall dust, which would kill it in short order. Once the drywall is cut on the ceiling , I have to find a way to get my hands and a tool inside the space , so that the roof can be pierced at exactly the right spot. The slot being cut out of this house is 6 inches wide. Once the roof is pierced, I simply measure over 6 inches, later on when I'm kneeling on the roof, to get the second cut right.

With most houses, I am able to get into the attic. This very low attic was filled with insulation , and the attic was very hot. So I did the entire job without ever going into the attic.

Wires are labeled before they are cut. Large wires in the basement are disconnected and sent with whichever segment of the house makes the most sense. Plumbing pipes are cut cleanly. Large sewer pipes that lie below the floor joists , are taken down and piled in the upstairs of the house. The big steel beams that the moving company uses , would destroy most things that are below the joists. Most houses have crappy carpets in some of their rooms. Pipes, furnaces , water tanks and other items being saved are placed on those carpets. We don't pile things on hardwood floors or on nice tile.

After this house is lifted and the wings separated , I will return and build some temporary reinforcement walls. I always use screws , so that the customer can easily dismantle my work and keep the lumber for  their other projects.
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Spots like this are always difficult
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This window was within the cut line. The wood has been taken away, leaving enough room for the two sections to pass when it
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The pocket door had to be removed. Always close a pocket door before you go cutting. It
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The door came out cleanly with only one side of the drywall having to be removed.
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There is a stairway leading to the basement. There was no easy way to get a ladder into this space, so I devised a reaching stick, to snap the line.
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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