Tuesday, February 2, 2010

More on the Cheney Cottage

Today, we met with staff at UC Berkeley, along with our house mover, Phil Joy, and the contractor who will build the new foundations for both houses, Eric Angress.  

The UC Berkeley Real Estate office, Kevin Hufford, is very helpful and a nice guy, but until today I think he thought we were nuts.  When I told him we were planning on cutting the second floor off the first floor, and moving the house in two sections, he seemed shocked.  And when we mapped out the route for how we plan to get the house off the campus of the University, I don't know if he thought it could be done.

But today, everything changed.  Phil Joy is an ebullient and energetic, bursting with confidence. He has moved many houses, and has a wealth of experience. We walked through the Cheney Cottage, and Phil figured out where it would be cut and how it would be moved.  We're basically going to lift the second floor walls right off the floor.  The second floor will be stiffened with metal framing and temporary floor joists, then cut right at the bottom plate of the walls, and lifted up and lowered onto dollies.  Then the second floor will be rolled down through the campus, out on to Bancroft, and then down toward the new site.  Once it arrives on 62nd Street, the second floor will be jacked 14 feet in the air, and left on cribbing.  

The following weekend, the first floor will be jacked up, put on dollies and follow the same route the second floor too.  Once on 62nd Street, the first floor will be slid under the second floor, and then the second floor will be carefully lowered down into place.  The two floors will be joined together, and Tom and I will begin the process of repairing all the damage done to walls and siding, and running new plumbing, wiring and heating pipes.  

The amazing thing about this incredible process is how routine and almost mundane Phil makes it seem.  Cutting a 108-year old house in two and rolling it down hill and across town seems almost impossible, but he makes it seem effortless.  We were standing looking at the house, and he said, "Don't stand next to the house and think about it. Step way back, and look at the house from a distance - then you can see how small it really is, and how you can just pop the second floor off the first."   It all sounds so do-able.


  1. Well, Phil(me with)Joy, why don't ya!
    Cribbing and dollies and joists. OH MY! Does a glossary come with this blog? I never comment on blogs, so forgive my lack of etiquette. We really need to get this on History Channel's Extreme Engineering. I just have to be there when this puppy goes sailing through the Sather Gate, like the Queen Elizabeth passing under the Verrazano. As Lucy said "We crank down the smoke stack and squeeze in the poop deck"
    It never occured to me that the floors would be separated. Did you really say the second floor will be jacked and left on cribbing? I love it when you find the perfect person for the job, like Phil Joy!
    One question related to another post about the Delaney House on 62nd St (and this is coming from a person who can't change a light bulb): Did you say you're putting in new wiring and plumbing and linoleum etc and the next step is to move it?? I don't know nuthin 'bout movin houses, but...well oh never mind. It's all a vicarious thrill for me. An exotic adventure filled with thrills and spills and colorful characters. Remember: Keep Phil Joy in your heart. Don't make Eric Angress. And if all else fails, ask That Man, Kev Hufford.
    If anyone else is reading this, forgive me. Dmitri and I renounced the English language ages ago.

  2. Hey, I'd love to watch the house-moving when it happens. Also, if you need a photographer to document the process, let me know!