Transporting 50-ton houses down the highway is old hat to William Johnson, owner of Anderson Building Movers.
The business’s efforts are being featured in two upcoming episodes of HGTV’s Massive Moves -- a show Johnson agreed to participate in for the sake of the industry.
“They’re going to do this show regardless,” said the past president of both the Saskatchewan and International Building Movers Associations.
“When you see some of the stuff the other guys are doing, this doesn’t really make the industry look good. We want to make this look professional. Here’s someone who’s going to show up on time, they’re going to do this, it’s going to come in on-budget, on-time.”
Although a team of four endeavoured to have things go off without a hitch, fate dealt them a different card for the second of two moves that crews came out to film.
The challenging second move had the crew out for two weeks, moving a single-level bungalow 40 kilometres a week before Christmas, for an episode to air some time in March.
Two major components of the move made things tricky, including the owner’s desire for them to move not only the house’s main floor but its basement as well, alongside its attached garage.
“You could probably shoot a three-hour mini series on that one,” Johnson said. “We had a lot of site issues with that one … There wasn’t a lot of room, and up a hill.”
The basement involved a lot of digging, with a huge sloping ramp allowing them to drive the entire structure out and away.
The detached garage proved to be the most difficult component.
“It’s like trying to move a roof and two walls,” Johnson said. “It’s kind of a frail structure.”
When you see some of the stuff the other guys are doing, this doesn’t really make the industry look good. We want to make this look professional. Here’s someone who’s going to show up on time, they’re going to do this, it’s going to come in on-budget, on-time. - Anderson Building Movers owner William Johnson
The first of two moves that crews filmed proved less stressful.
To be aired in early February, Anderson Building Movers transported a two-storey house south of Maymont to Richard, Sask.
“It’s an older structure, so you’ve always got to look for the problems that you can have with an older structure,” Johnson said.
“We had to cross the Maymont bridge and hammer some of the concrete out. There were some tight spots on the road here or there.”
The show’s producers like to see movers face two problems in every episode, with two solutions accompanying them, Johnson said, noting that this was something both moves accommodated.
“There’s stuff that we face every day that’s really challenge, but it doesn’t look real exciting,” he said. “We move a lot of smaller houses that are more difficult than the bigger, but the bigger ones look more spectacular.”
Johnson purchased Anderson Building Movers from its previous owner in 1996, expanding it drastically since that time.
“We went from a little rented shack in Red Wing to owning our own property -- from four employees to 16,” he said.
“It’s something different every day. I kind of like the challenge of doing it. There’s physical result at the end of the day, you can see where you’ve done something.”
There’s something particularly rewarding about this extreme means of recycling, Johnson said.
“There are houses being torn down every day that are perfectly fine houses,” he said. ““We just had a phone call today from someone who wants to move an old Eaton’s house. This is a piece of heritage.”