Photo © Melanie Lehtola
Free six bedroom home ... you move it.

Our Big House Move
by Melanie Letohla
Howard Lake, MN

I cannot tell you how excited everyone is to finally have "The Big House" moved to the Howard Lake farm. We all feel God has richly blessed us with this home.

There were so many obstacles put in our way, but God overcame them all. I want to tell you about a few of them so you will understand why I know that this was God at work. This might take awhile but please humor me. :o)

All last summer we had been searching for a house to build that would fit the needs of two families, Lisa's and mine. We found a plan that we liked and we'd all be able to squish into. We figured with help from her kids and mine we could build it ourselves. We put it on the back burner until I could find a nursing job, being I had just graduated.

Well, I'd say God had a different plan and he dropped it right in my lap. One day in August I was searching the local paper for a recliner when I came across an ad that said "free six bedroom home ... you move it." I showed it to Brian and Lisa [Boldt] and said, "What do you think?" I made the call to John Dammann; he told us the house was just south of Lester Prairie and we could come on over and look at it that afternoon, if we wanted to.

When Lisa and I walked into that house we got the feeling that we had come home. It was unreal how we both felt the same way: this was our home! Brian, Lisa and I had a short conversation and decided to step out in faith and tell John we wanted the house.

We talked to the bank and then started getting quotes to move the house. John had already contacted a mover because he was wanting to build a new house right where this one sat. We called the mover he had talked to and got a quote. The mover told us what route he had planned on taking and which electric companies were involved that we had to get quotes from (there were four of them). This house is tall so we couldn't just scoot under the wires. We had to get quotes from a plumber, electrician, someone to do our septic ... the list went on and on!

OK, so the very last quote to come in was from Xcel, one of the electric companies. They wanted $90,000 to drop their lines. Wow, what a bubble buster that was! It really floored us ... that would take up most of our budget. But I couldn't give up on the house. I just knew God wouldn't bring this house to us and then let it slip away.

I talked to Mark at McLeod County Power (not an Xcel employee); he thought the high price was probably due to the route our mover had chosen. He told me he had an idea of a different route we could probably take. This dear man went out in his own truck on his own time and came up with a new route for us. He got together with our mover and they decided it would work.

I contacted Xcel with the new route ... and then we waited ... and prayed ... and waited ... and prayed some more. This would make or break our plans to move the house. It took WEEKS for them to finally contact me; the call actually came from a big shot who was out in Denver at some convention. He apologized for taking so long to contact us and then gave me the new quote for $7,500! We were moving forward!

My mover now had different bad news; he could not get the State of Minnesota to agree to let us move the house on Highway 7 or Highway 12 during the day. A night time move would cost us an extra $12,000 - $15,000 from the electric companies alone.

I had to get the budget to the bank so I put in all the figures and shot it off to her in an e-mail. Unfortunately, this was around the time Wall Street went in the toilet. We went in to meet with her and she said there was no way she could get a mortgage company to go along with this; the cost was too high, those lending money were being overly cautious. "Couldn't you just find a rambler to move in?" Ummmm ... NO, we couldn't. She said if we could get the cost to under $100,000 she could finance it through the bank.

On the way home, I told Brian I would go through the budget and cut out everything that was not absolutely necessary to get the house on a foundation and hooked up with electrical, water and septic. I talked to God and told him that I was going to step out in faith and if he wanted us to have this house he would have to make the State DOT agree to a daytime move. So, even though the house mover was planning on a night time move, I cut all the electrical quotes back to what they would be for a daytime move. I submitted a $95,500 budget to the bank. She was happy with that and gave us the go ahead.

February 5th rolled around and about five hours before we go to close on the house I got a call from our house mover. He can't do the move because one of the electric companies (yes, that would be Xcel again!) can't do it until the second week in March and that is just too close to possible road postings; the ground might be too soft. If I can't get the electric company to agree to the move by the last day of February he just can't do it. OK God, that's pretty humorous ... this is just not going to be easy, is it?

I call the lady at Xcel and plead my case. She is surprised; she did not realize it was an issue. How about we plan the move for February 26th? OK, I said, that will be fine.

I call my mover. He has been thinking about it and talked to his partner (his uncle) and he just does not feel comfortable moving it this late in the winter season, they only have two dollies and it might take four ... yadda, yadda, yadda. I say, that's fine, just tell me, yes or no, will you move our house? He says (very nicely), I'm sorry, but you will have to find someone else. OK God, you're up to bat again.

Brian calls his cousin (a contractor from Monticello) who gives us the names of three different movers he knows. I call the first one and nobody answers so I leave a message. I call the second one and get a message that gives me the cell phone of the owner. I call that number and get Neil Anderson of Anderson Building Movers, Paynesville, Minnesota.

"Hi, can you move our three-story house 25 miles? We need it done on February 26th."

"Sure, not a problem, when can I come out and look at it?"

I about die right then and there from excitement, AND his quote is almost the exact same as our first mover.

We go to the bank that afternoon and I hesitantly explain to Amy about our mover backing out. She says, "This is how much money you have; I don't care who you pay to move your house."

We sign the papers ... all 1,000 of them ... and drive home in a daze. The next day we meet up with our new house mover and take him out to the house in Lester Prairie. This kid is all of 27 years old. We take him along the route and he says, "I think we can turn this into a day move." Of course you can. Neil makes some calls and gets the OK for a day move.

Four days before our move, Neil calls me. The woman he talked to about the Highway 12 portion of the move said it would be OK, but come to find out, she is not the one that signs the permit ... and the guy who does, does not want us to do a day move. Neil said he talked to him twice for about 20 minutes each time and cannot get the guy to budge. I told Neil that if he wanted to go talk to this guy in person I would go with him, because there is no way we are getting more money from the bank to pay the extra fees for a night move. So, off we go to St. Cloud to face this guy, who is probably really ticked off by now because Neil is being a nagging pain in the butt.

On our 45-minute drive to St. Cloud, Neil and I discover we have something in common: we are both Christians. Before we go in to face this guy (who turns out to be a very BIG guy), Neil says, "Let's pray about this first."

We get into this guy's office at 12:57 and he tells us he has a meeting at 1:00 so we have to make it quick. He then pulls out a map of Highway 12; he's ready for us. Neil pulls out photos I had taken with my camera and printed before we left home and a traffic study we did that morning ... we're ready for him, too.

A couple minutes into this, the guy's cell phone rings ... he's late for his meeting. He's muttering this and that and not really saying much other than it's too busy with traffic and no one would see the house coming down the road. (Yeah, take a look at those pictures; you'd have to be blind to not see that thing coming down the road.) His phone rings again; he stands up 'cause he's really late for this meeting. Neil keeps on talking. The guy says, "I really want this to be an exception and not the rule," and then shows us out of his office.

Standing outside the office, Neil and I look at each other ... well, that was as clear as mud! I ask Neil if he thought the guy said yes or no to the day move. Neil said he wasn't sure but he was going to take it as a yes. Two days later he gets the permit in the mail for a day move. Oh, man ... does it get any better than this?

A day before the move, the forecast said we would be getting 6 to 8 inches of snow. Great ... we have to reschedule. What are the odds of four electric companies, the police escort and the State DOT being able to find a mutually acceptable two-day move for this house within the next week? Road posting will be going up shortly and if we can't get them to agree on a new date soon then we'll have to wait until the road restrictions come off in May.

Oh, ye of little faith! Neil called the day after the snowstorm and said we'd be moving the house on Monday and Tuesday of the upcoming week. I think I need to ask him to remove his shirt to see if he's hiding a set of wings under there. :o)

The move went very smoothly; we only had a few hitches ... some farmer is minus one tree in his ditch along the road and we had a nice hour-long lunch as we waited for the OK to go onto Highway 12. Nobody was hurt and we actually made it across the railroad tracks without getting a train through our living room ... so, all in all, it was a great two-day move! There will be a few pictures in the local paper with a little story about the move.

Thanks to all of you who offered up prayers for our project; I am confident God heard each and every one of them! Considering all the excitement of the first phase of getting our new home moved onto the property, we could sure use everyone's prayers, if you chose to offer any up, for the next phase of getting a foundation built, a new septic put in, electrical and water hooked up and all those other details that go along with it. Sometimes it's the nickel and dime stuff that sinks the ship. But I am confident God will provide!

We are so excited to get moved in and plan a big housewarming party, which you all will be invited to attend!

Photo © Melanie Lehtola
Ready to go...

Photo © Melanie Lehtola

Photo © Melanie Lehtola
Coming down the highway...

Photo © Melanie Lehtola
Traffic should be able to see it coming, all right.

Photo © Melanie Lehtola
Made it across the railroad tracks without getting a train through our living room.

Photo © Melanie Lehtola
Almost there now...

Photo © Melanie Lehtola
House on farm awaits foundation, septic, water & electric hookups, etc.

Back To Bulletin 352