Blog Cabin 2011: Home Lifting Moments

Jim Matyiko, president of Expert House Movers of VA and lifter of this year's Blog Cabin, talks about his company's 60-year history and the greatest challenges he's faced as a house lifter.
By: Lori Dolnick

Taking Recycling Seriously

House moving has a rich heritage and according to the International Association of Structural Movers, is the world's oldest and largest recycling industry. Rescuing one home can save about 45 tons of landfill debris. Companies owned by families who pass on the knowledge of their craft from generation to generation dominate this fascinating industry. Expert House Movers is one such family-owned business, responsible for successfully lifting Blog Cabin 2011.

How did your father get started?

"My dad did road projects, clearing right of ways. He was taking down a house when a woman asked if she could have the door. Later she realized that the door would outshine her existing home. She asked for the house instead. My dad tried to hire a mover, but he didn't show up. Dad ended up moving the house himself."

What are your most stressful moments when moving?

"I worry a lot about old septic tanks underground. When you hit a tank under the grass, the earth just caves in. We were moving one near Mathews and we carried it through five fields. Then the truck just dropped out of sight. We got it back up again, but it was bottomed out to the axles. You have to jack it up and put steel plates under the tires to move it out. At the end, it worked out fine and a local farmer acquired a really nice house out of that move."

What are among the most unusual structures you've lifted?

"We're very passionate about saving historic buildings. Our first lighthouse was the South East Lighthouse in Block Island, R.I., in 1993. Since then, we've moved the Nauset and Highland lighthouses on Cape Cod, Mass., in 1996; the tallest unsupported masonry lighthouse in the world, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton, N.C., in 1999; and the Sankaty Lighthouse in Nantucket, Mass., in 2007."

What was the most challenging lighthouse project?

"Hatteras Lighthouse. It was a mammoth and hurricane season was upon us. We knew that we had to have it backed away from the ocean by late August. We worked 24 hours a day to move it 1/2 mile from the ocean. We just made it. In mid-September, hurricanes flooded the site. If we were still moving – that would have been a disaster."

You moved the Serendipity House featured Richard Gere's Nights in Rodanthe?

"We were at the mercy of Mother Nature. The ocean kept coming in on us, but we got it moved. That one almost kicked my butt. In essence we had to move between tides. It was 50 feet tall and very narrow – topsy-turvy. It was one of the most challenging jobs we've encountered."

Photo courtesy Richard Adkins/WRAL-TV