House Relocation Industry Booming as Building Delays and Costs Frustrate Landowners

John, a dragline operator, said a quote to build a three-bedroom brick home came back at $270,000.

"And that was just your basic house. Nothing flashy or anything like that," he said.

"But we got up one morning, footloose and fancy-free, and thought we would go for a drive to town and talk to Busby's home removals."

The houses for sale included three ex-government homes located 270km away at Emerald that had been previously provided for police officers and school staff.

The next day the couple drove out for an inspection and found a well-appointed and maintained three-bedroom weatherboard home.

They snapped it up.

In fact, all three Emerald houses were quickly sold.

The couple's home was delivered to their land by truck and placed on highset steel posts for $80,000.

Sitting on their front verandah last week, the Winkelmanns couldn't be happier with the outcome. And they are not alone, with the Queensland house removal industry reporting a surge in demand.

"We have done a little bit, but you could have moved in here and not done a thing," Chris said.

"It would have been quite adequate, other than getting your water and power connected. Security screens, five split system air conditioners, everything in it is up to date and the wiring as well.

"I think the way we've done it [with a total cost just under $140,000] was the best option."

It saved them $130,000.

'It's gone mad'

Busby's House Removals boss Patrick Busby said the company was experiencing its busiest period in more than 30 years as frustrated house-block owners gave up on building and looked for more timely and cheaper alternatives with most homes selling for less than $100,000.

It's a similar story statewide.

"The shortage of building materials and whatever has really made things go crazy," Mr Busby said walking through his holding yard in Depot Hill.

The yard contains an assortment of mostly sold timber homes standing on trestles.

"People are waiting 18 months to two years for a builder [for a house] and the building materials. The costs are going up 25 and 30 per cent," he said.

Demand for relocating older homes has been accelerating for 12 months and Busbys is booked out to mid-year as new clients join the queue.

Busby's usually moves up to 30 houses a year but with the increasing workload is looking at starting a second crew.

"It's a big job to move a house," Mr Busby said about the combination of transport logistics, heavy work and specialised skills needed.

"A small house can take up to seven days and when it's a double shift, where you've got to cut the house in half and put it back together, it's a two-week job.

"That's for five or six blokes and you need police escorts, police permits and pilots. And we're restricted by the width of the house and the lights and the powerlines and all that sort of stuff.

"Everyone's got to be hands-on and you've got to try and give your men a break in between those jobs, which is quite tricky as well otherwise you'll burn out."

His wife DeeAnn Busby, who handles marketing, said there was a demand for relocatable homes across the region.

One of the business's more challenging jobs involved moving a "beautiful big old home" from Winton to a property near Longreach after the original homestead burnt down.

Queensland House Removers owner John Wright said it was the busiest he had seen the industry in 35 years.

"We are moving three houses a week," he said.

"People are buying them off FaceTime. It's gone mad for us. I've gone from 15 guys to 35 and I could use another 10 guys if I could find them."

Mr Wright has recently transported homes to Yeppoon and two homes to Melbourne and is about to bring a classic Queenslander priced at more than $300,000 from Mackay to Brisbane.

"I've been doing this all my life, moving houses, and it's a bloody good thing. It's cost-effective; you just can't replace these older homes. They were built [well] back then."

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