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5 Tips for Lifting or Moving a Balloon Frame Home

Balloon frame homes have been around for ages, and moving or lifting them takes special care and expertise. Below we provide five tips for lifting or relocating your home that help you plan for the big day.

Where is Balloon Framing Used?

Balloon framing was a popular form of timber construction from the late-19th century to the mid-20th century. If you own a house built during this period, you likely have a balloon frame home.

The studs run from the soleplate to the rafter plate in balloon framing with large cavities in the frame. Second, walls are usually constructed on their side then raised upright. And lastly, true balloon framing means the studs go down to the foundation mudsill.

Though this technique was mainstream for years, eventually, the timbers used for balloon framing became scarce. As a result, platform framing took its place and rose in prevalence.

How to Lift or Move a Balloon Frame Home

Balloon frame homes are usually at least 70 years old. These older, sturdy homes are great candidates for a lift or even a relocation. Below we give you five tips for lifting or moving a balloon frame home, so your project is as smooth and stress-free as possible.

  1. Mind the Mudsill

Balloon frame homes are unique in the fact that they have single-plate mudsills as support for the rest of the framing. Therefore, when lifting or moving your balloon frame house, your contractor should pay special attention to the mudsill.

In many cases, the mudsill of an older home can rot and decay, leaving behind structural hazards. Therefore, as you relocate the dwelling to its new property, you’ll want to ensure your moving contractor and general contractor are aware of the current mudsill’s condition. Then, they have a plan for the new foundation.

They might choose to replace the old mudsill with a new sole plate made of treated lumber. This will help prevent future rot and ensure the structure rests on a sturdy foundation.

  1. Check Building Codes

Balloon framing was the most popular form of framing at one point in time. However, it’s no longer allowed by modern building codes because the framing is a fire hazard. Balloon framing creates spaces that interconnect floor levels. The open spaces act like a chimney, feeding fires and allowing them to spread quickly. When you lift or move your balloon frame home, we strongly suggest hiring a contractor to renovate your house to make it safer.

Any time you do major renovation work on your balloon frame home, you need to work with your contractor to review the existing building code for your state. Lifts and whole-house moves may be subject to these codes depending on your location and local or state governing body.

As you plan for your move or lift, work with your general contractor to address the hazards that come along with traditional balloon framing. Now is the perfect time to make renovations that result in a safer, more flame-resistant home.

  1. Use the Move to Install Insulation

As we explained above, balloon frame homes can pose serious risk for fire. The open channels characteristic of this framing method allow for fires to spread quickly. When planning your lift or move, ask your contractor about adding insulation or other approved materials in the open spaces of your walls’ interiors.

Filling these spaces with materials approved in building codes prevents airflow and slows the spread of fire should one start in your home.

  1. Prepare Your Home for the Move

Both you and your contractors have extensive prep work to complete before the day of your home’s lift or relocation. Before your contractor sets up their equipment, you need to do a few things to prepare your home for the move:

  • Disconnect utilities
  • Secure plumbing and wiring under your home
  • Remove landscaping or yard décor from the perimeter of your home
  • Remove HVAC unit to prevent damage

You can request that your general contractor take care of these tasks before the lift day arrives. This ensures there will be no obstacles to begin lifting or relocating your home.

  1. Choose the Right Contractor

The most critical choice you can make for your balloon frame home’s lift or move is your contractor. These old homes require expertise and a careful hand, and the right equipment to move them successfully.

DeVooght House Lifters brings decades of experience to every house lift and move. The team at DeVooght knows balloon framing’s particularities and can raise your home or move it to a new property entirely with all pieces intact.

DeVooght House Lifters makes the entire process as stress-free as possible. They’ll guide you in every step to ensure you’re aware of the plans and procedures, answering your questions along the way. Then, when you’re ready to choose a house-lifting contractor for your balloon frame home, DeVooght House Lifters has the knowledge, experience, and integrity to do the job right the first time.


Lifting or moving your balloon frame home takes an entire team of skilled professionals. But when you choose the right team, you can rest assured that your home will sit firmly on its new foundation –– wherever that may be! So contact the team at DeVooght House Lifters today to speak with someone about your vision for your balloon frame home.

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