CTA designers help relocating client turn cabin into temporary ‘houseboat’

It’s a rare day when CTA is afforded the opportunity to move a structure. A longstanding client asked if we could assist in designing a foundation and managing a project that included moving a $1.5 million cabin from a private island on Flathead Lake to the main shore.

The estimated 80-ton log and heavy timber structure didn’t quite max out the 110-ton-capacity barge, but the team was challenged by shoreline limitations at each site and driven by a lake level that drops in mid-October by means of dams at each end. The 20-year-old structure was forced to leave its fireplace and chimney behind due to weight, though it will receive new versions in its new location; and a new basement will be created in lieu of the cramped former crawlspace.

The moving process included severing building systems and utilities, excavating the surrounding site, cutting the foundation in several locations to thread high-strength steel needle beams across the span of the building footprint, cutting anchors, and carefully positioning cribbing, jacks, and rollers. After several days of prep at the island and forming a new foundation at the main shore, about two weeks ago, a brawny crew of a dozen with steady nerves and an understanding of the physics required to move robust structures spent a long, abnormally windless day moving the cabin from the island shore onto the barge, and carefully floated it across a portion of the nearly 200 square mile lake.

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