Delivery and Set Up | August 1st, 2019


In the TV show “Massive Moves”, they chronicle some pretty incredible transportation feats and a lot of house moves. While our moves aren’t usually quite so dramatic, or at least we don’t have the dramatic narrator, transporting a building truly does take great precision and planning.

Method to the Madness

The methodology of transporting modular or prefab structures in Western Canada can generally be broken down into one of the following styles, or possibly a combination of each, depending on the complexity of the move:

  • Use a trombone trailer to haul truss floor modules (as pictured above). This type of trailer extends to meet different lengths of modules. Cranes will often be required when a building is transported on a trombone, but it can be rolled onto its foundation, or blocked onto wood cribbing and lowered down onto pilings. Trombone trailers may require a bigger turning radius, more room at the approach to a client’s site and more room once on site in order to clear the length of the home once it is on its foundation.
  • Using a “dolly” system (pictured below). A dolly is a tridem assembly of three axles with 12 wheels that is slid right underneath the module with a deformation resistant steel frame. The transporter will also attach a removable hitch which will be used to haul the module. If the building is designed on longitudinal beams (steel frame) – it can be transported either by trombone trailer or using the dolly system, but dollies are typically used on a framed module.
  • Ferries and floats. While this is unusual in Alberta, we have ferried homes to the Territories. Both truss floor and framed modules can be ferried.

If you’re considering factory construction, we’ve presented in the list below a few of the things to know about transporting your home or commercial building to its final resting site.

  • Transportation falls under provincial jurisdiction. In Saskatchewan, for instance, a second pilot truck will likely be required. Transporting a home into BC requires a completely different set of regulations, including some very specific width restrictions. In Alberta, we are very lucky to have nice wide open highways (for the most part!) and here we can ship up to 27’ wide in one section on many of our highways.
  • There will be restrictions. 100% of the time our transporters will run into restrictions. It could be on the time of day they can move, where they can travel (some roads and highways are restricted), they will face load dimension restrictions and always – weight restrictions.
  • Some months are better than others. Buildings are very heavy; a basic understanding of your soil conditions is beneficial, but most professionals will come to do a site inspection for you to help you assess things. Many people want their homes delivered in the spring but that is the time of year where there are most likely to be delays because of soil conditions. The best time of year to deliver is often in the winter when the ground is hard and frozen.
  • The most challenging part of the journey is often on the owner’s site. Factory built homes and buildings can be transported hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles to their final destination. The most challenging bit is usually from the road to the placement on the lot. It is a journey that can be marked with narrow driveways and ditches, overhanging trees and landscaping, out buildings and nowhere to turn around. Most home buyers underestimate the amount of room that is required until the building actually arrives.

Despite the precise coordination required, if you are working with a professional builder, they should coordinate the move on your behalf and guide you in the process with permits, site preparation and the like. If you choose to do it on your own, we would highly recommend you do your research and ensure your transporter is well insured, bonded and licensed.

In summary, how the structure will be transported is dictated by what style of structure it is, where it is going and what the site conditions are like at the final destination. There has never been a location we haven’t been able to get to, some are just a little more complicated than others.

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