By Joseph Robertia
When it comes to purchasing a home, many people look for a house and property that agrees with them, but for Kasilof newlyweds Jane and Randy Adkins, the house they wanted wasn’t where they owned land, so they moved their dream structure, all 25,000 square feet of it, and not by doing it one piece at a time.
“It went pretty darn smooth, all things considered,” said Jane Adkins.
They relocated the three-story structure that formerly stood on top of a tall hill behind the Tustumena Lodge, in Kasilof, roughly eight miles down Cohoe Loop Road late last month.
Married last June, Randy lived in a camper off of Cohoe Loop, while Jane lived in a barn in Soldotna. In starting a new life together, they wanted a new home — this home on the hill. Nailing down a price with the seller was the easy part, but the move was a long time coming, according to Jane Adkins, primarily because of how massive the structure would be to transport.
“It was probably last May we found out about it and started getting ready for it,” she said.
She and Randy, a carpenter by trade, liked the house and weighed the option of building one like it. However, the cost of building materials has skyrocketed in recent years, and they quickly realized it would cost significantly more to build than it would to try and move the existing house, particularly since the owner was eager to see it go and cut them a great deal.
“A lot of people wanted it, but were put off by the idea of how much would have to be done to move it,” Adkins said.
The move wasn’t going to be cheap. Jane said only three businesses in the state specialize in this kind of work, and the one they selected — Toney Hannah General Contracting —cost twice as much to move the house as it did to purchase it. Still, the price was thousands of dollars less than if they had built a new home.
“It was really intense. A lot of people told us it would fall apart, but it wasn’t that old and Randy looked it over and said it was a well-built house, so he was pretty confident we could do it,” Adkins said.
This wouldn’t be like moving a one-room log cabin to the Kasilof museum grounds, though, as has happened on occasion in Kasilof. This was a three-story house, with three huge rooms, two full bathrooms, stairs and a kitchen. Inside there was a fridge, a stove and all the plumbing and electrical wiring.
They spent months shoring up the structure and disconnecting and removing what could be taken out to streamline the move, such as the garage, greenhouse and external lights. In the end it was decided the upper two stories would be lifted off the ground floor and rebuilt onsite after the move.
With this plan in place, there still was the task of getting the two stories of the house down the big hill behind the Tustumena Lodge and onto Cohoe Loop. This was the part Adkins said they all feared the most due to how many things could have gone wrong.
“It was so steep, we knew if it tipped at all, we’d lose everything,” she said, but going slowly with hydraulic lifts, they got the house raised, kept it level and got it set onto a trailer.
“They attached that to a truck and the truck to a dozer to keep it from going downhill too fast,” Adkins said. “We
also had to expand the road and put down plywood to drive over. It was really something.”
The move down the hill was only day one. The next morning they all met again — the Adkinses, the movers and this time Homer Electric Association — to prepare for the move down Cohoe.
“We got going at 9 a.m. and it took up basically the whole road, and was so tall HEA went in front of us. They’d lift the power lines so the house could fit under it,” Adkins said.
It took several hours before they rounded the corner onto South Cohoe Loop. Slightly more than mile remained to get the house to their property, but this last pass took almost as long as the other seven miles did, due to lower-hanging power lines.
“Instead of just pushing them up, HEA had to disconnect them, let us pass, then put it back up and on. It was pretty
slow going on that final stretch,” Adkins said.
In the early afternoon they made it to the property and the house was set on cribs. With the decision made to abandon the old first floor of the house, a new concrete pad will have to be poured and walls erected.
“After the walls are built, the contractor will lift the house off and drop it onto the walls, and then we’ll put in the floors, doors and windows,” Adkins said.
It was a lot of effort to get the house moved, and a lot of work still remains, but Adkins said that she and her husband are looking forward to completing the project, which will one day be their home. Once done it should be even nicer than the structure was when originally built, she said.
“It’s ours now,” she said. “And finishing it will be a labor of love.”