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Moving Home with Shacks on Racks

Saving history in Jackson, Wyoming, one wide load at a time.


  Photo courtesy Shacks on Racks


In Jackson, Wyoming, historic structures are everywhere, from tree-lined streets to steep ski slopes. Sometimes you might even spot them on the highway — quite literally. Loaded up on the back of an oversized trailer, these former cabins, restaurants, shops and more are likely a project of Shacks on Racks and are headed to a new homesite elsewhere. 

Founded by Esther Judge-Lennox in 2017, Shacks on Racks started with a completely updated 1941 Craftsman home that was going to the trash until Esther had it relocated to her driveway where it sat for 18 months before getting a foundation. 

“Honestly, I had no plan when I started it; it was out of sadness and desperation. And as it’s gone on, it is mind-blowing to see the amount of trash that we’ve kept from the landfill, which wasn’t even my original goal,” Esther explains. “I mean, this started with trash houses, and it’s morphed into providing housing for people, saving things from the trash and demanding better of my community and the contractors that work in it.” 

Today, Shacks on Racks has kept 1,563,350 pounds of refuse out of landfills by scouring public records of demolition permits and connecting individuals who are planning to redevelop their property (and in doing so, tear down a structure) with individuals and families looking for alternative solutions to building new. With this, Esther hopes to keep perfectly good building materials out of the garbage, abate the growing mountain-town housing crisis and preserve the history and charm of places like Jackson. 

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The Cost

While the structures themselves are free, there are certainly costs associated with the process. First, you’ll need to have land ready to receive such a structure. Then, Shacks on Racks advises budgeting $35 to $65 per square foot for the base cost of moving the home. (The current owners are encouraged to donate their demolition budget to the moving cost.) After that, you may need to spend tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars for everything else: permitting, site prep, utilities and finishing


The Move

As Shacks on Racks attests: humans have been moving buildings for centuries. Today, we have the aid of hydraulic jacks and high-powered engines. That being said, a big part of it is still hard labor. Once utilities have been disconnected, holes are inserted into the foundation and steel beams are placed beneath the floor joists to support the load of the building as it’s lifted and placed on a trailer. 


The Location

Next, the home can be moved anywhere, as long as it can fit on the roads along the way. This is something Shacks on Racks will help clients figure out by working with the relevant department(s) of transportation. Depending on the road restrictions, the home may need to be moved in sections. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure your county, town, HOA or other local authority allows relocated homes. 


The Restoration

The properties saved by Shacks on Racks run the gamut. Esther says they just saved a home built as recently as 2021. Some however, are quite a bit older and will require more work to bring up to code, including remediation for asbestos and lead paint. 


See Also: Using Reclaimed Wood in Timber Home Design

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