House Moving Rules and Regulations

House Moving Rules and Regulations

  1. Permit Requirements
    1. Permit Necessary
      1. Any operation to move a building along or across any public place requires a permit from Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).
      2. No permit to move any building by use of dollies, or to move a building over sixteen feet (16') wide shall be issued except to authorized house movers as provided in City Ordinance 108382.
      3. No permit will be granted by SDOT until the applicant, who must be in possession of a contractor's license, has satisfactorily passed an examination on the rules, regulations, and ordinances governing house moving operations within the City of Seattle.  This examination shall be administered by the Seattle Transportation Permit Manager.
    2. Permit Application
      1. Application shall be made through the Seattle Services Portal and shall include the following information:
        1. Location from which building is to be moved
        2. Proposed location to which building is being moved
        3. Building Permit number (attach photocopy of permit)
        4. Dimensions of building when loaded
        5. Proposed route over which building is to be moved
        6. Any additional information or facts which may aid the Permit Manager in determining whether to issue the permit.
      2. The application shall be submitted at least twenty-one (21) days prior to the scheduled house move.  This minimum time may be reduced by the Permit Manager, provided that due cause can be shown by the house mover.
      3. If the authorized house mover applying for the permit intends to have the building moved by some other authorized house mover (example: a sub-contractor) , he/she shall so state and furnish the Permit Manager with the name of the permit user.
    3. Permit Fee: The permit fee is to be paid in full before permit is issued.
    4. Route Check
      1. On all moves of buildings fourteen feet, six inches (14'6") or more in height when loaded, a survey of the proposed route to be traveled shall be made by a Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer (CVEO) or CVEO Supervisor in order to estimate costs to utilities whose services must be moved to allow the building to pass.
      2. The resulting survey report shall be endorsed by the authorized house mover prior to his/her receiving the requested permit.
      3. The authorized house mover shall agree to reimburse the City of Seattle and/or private utilities for expenses incurred on his/her behalf.
      4. A deposit may be required if it is determined that more than one (1) hour of inspection time will be needed due to the complexity of the move.
    5. Permit Issued
      1. The permit will be issued to the authorized house mover only when all of the above requirements have been met, subject to restrictions of City Ordinance 108382.
      2. In all cases, the permit user shall meet the same standards as the permit holder.
      3. The permit holder shall comply with all regulations as specified in chapter 15.28 of the Municipal Code.
  2. Equipment Standards
    1. Intent
      1. These standards are intended as a guide to ensure safe and efficient house moving operations within the City of Seattle.
      2. Any deviation from these standards must be approved by a Seattle Transportation Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer (CVEO herein).
    2. Approved Equipment Only
      1. Only authorized equipment shall be used for house moving operations within the City of Seattle in order to minimize risk to persons and public or private property.
      2. All equipment used in house moving shall comply with the equipment require- ments of the Washington State Vehicle Laws.
      3. Any equipment which breaks down and causes undue delay, or any equipment breakdown which occurs frequently, constitutes just cause for the Seattle Transportation  Permit Manager or CVEO to rule against continued use of such equipment, and it shall be condemned.
      4. Equipment that has been condemned shall not be used until it has been repaired and subsequently inspected and approved by the Permit Manager or CVEO.
    3. Dollies
      1. All dollies shall be properly licensed and insured, and shall be inspected periodically by a CVEO.
      2. Dolly tires shall be in good condition, and spare tires or wheels shall be carried on each move.  Unsatisfactory tires/wheels shall be condemned.
      3. Dollies with solid rubber tires may be used on surfaces of concrete, asphalt with concrete base, dirt, or rock.  If any portion of the route is over asphalt with other than concrete base, special permission (a release) must be obtained from the Pavement Management Group within Seattle Transportation's Street Maintenance Section.
    4. Trucks
      1. All trucks shall be properly licensed and insured, and shall be inspected periodically by a CVEO.
      2. Truck tires shall be in good condition and be inflated properly.  Spare tires for each truck shall be carried on each move.
      3. Power and Control
        1. The towing truck shall have adequate power to start and pull the building  being moved on upgrades of up to 5%.
        2. For upgrades of 5% to 10%, additional power may be used in the form of a tow at the front of the operation.
        3. For grades of over 10%, either upgrade or downgrade, the move shall be controlled by winching.
        4. On downgrades of 10% to 5%, the extra braking necessary shall be in the form of a haul-back truck at the rear.
        5. A tractor that is being used as a towing vehicle shall have weight added to the chassis (example: ecology blocks chained in place) in order to provide adequate traction to pull the load.
      4. Contingencies
        1. A second towing truck, capable of continuing the move should the first unit break down, shall be required on each move on an arterial street or on a bus route. 
        2. Should the need arise for outside help in order to continue the move, the Permit Manager or a CVEO can call upon any outside source available and the cost of such extra help shall be paid by the authorized house mover holding the permit.
    5. Tire and Axle Loadings
      1. The following method of computing weight shall be used to determine the size of the equipment needed for any given move:  length x width x height (including walls, floor, and ceiling joists) = cubic volume of the building.  Calculate load weight at five (5) pounds per cubic foot.
      2. Tire and axle loading shall comply with Washington State Vehicle Load Limits. 
      3. A fifth-wheel type suspension with two non-steering dollies can be used for buildings which do not exceed forty-six feet (46') in length.  Longer buildings shall be moved on steering dollies due to the need for maneuverability.
    6. Supports
      1. When wooden timbers are used as the cross member, a steel saddle or cradle able to distribute the load weight evenly over the cross-sectional area of the timber where it is supported by the dolly or fifth-wheel shall be used.  This saddle or cradle shall be constructed in a manner that enables it to be used on any standard fifth-wheel configuration.  Cross members of any material other than wood also shall be so equipped if used on fifth-wheel loading.
      2. When running members are secured to the lower side of the cross member supported by the fifth-wheel or front dolly, the primary support shall be three-quarter-inch (3/4") steel bolts placed one on each side of each member and spaced from the members by half-inch (1/2") steel shaped to act as a template for placement on the top of the cross member and beneath the running member.  Three-quarter inch by three-inch   (3/4" x 3") steel nuts shall be used to tighten the above described clamp in a secure fashion.  A secondary binding of chain, or cable with chain binders or jacks, shall be used to securely fasten the running members to the cross members.
      3. A safety chain shall be fastened between the running members and the towing truck to supplement the tow bar when a CVEO deems it advisable to provide an additional safeguard against the running members being pulled off the cross member that is being supported by the truck, or off the dolly.
    7. Timbers
      1. The running members, which support the load and which ride on the rear dollies, shall be as long as and extend the full length of the building being moved.
      2. Wooden timbers shall be in one piece, be in good condition, and be of a size sufficient to maintain not more than one inch (1") of deflection for each two hundred inches (200" = 16'8") of unsupported span.
      3. If the building is of such length that timbers must be spliced, only the cantilever system splice shall be used.  Spliced timbers shall be inspected and approved by a CVEO prior to use.
      4. A wooden cross member being used on the front dolly or on the fifth-wheel of the truck shall be of a size and of such construction to preclude any deflection.
      5. All joists of the building being moved shall be firmly supported on the running members or on the cross members, which in turn ride on and are securely attached to the running members.
    8. Warning Equipment
      1. Wide loads being moved during hours of daylight shall display a one square foot (12" x 12") red colored flag on each corner.
      2. Wide loads being moved during hours of darkness shall have the following electrically operated lighting system:
        1. Not less than seven (7) approved (as per City of Seattle Official Traffic Code) blinking electric lights, each to have a 360° red lens and not less than a ten (10) candlepower bulb.
        2. The spacing of these lights shall be as follows:
          1. One on each side of the four corners of the building
          2. One on each side of the building at the center
          3. One on the back of the building in the center
        3. There shall be additional lights used in order to conform to City Ordinance 108200, which requires an amber light every five feet (5') across the rear and every eight feet (8') along the sides.  These lights may be non-blinking, but shall be electric and have not less than six (6) candlepower bulbs.
        4. There shall be at least one (1) white light of thirty-two (32) candlepower having a six inch (6") diffusing type lens mounted on the cab of the towing truck so as to illuminate the front of the building.  
        5. he towing truck shall have one (1) amber blinking light mounted on the crown of each front fender.  These lights shall be at least four inches (4") in diameter and have not less than fifteen (15) candlepower bulbs.  Directional lights meeting these requirements are acceptable for this purpose. 
      3. Kerosene lanterns shall not be used during the time the building is being moved.
    9. Transportation of Timbers
      1. On solo truck:
        1. The length which may be permitted shall not exceed twice the length of the supported portion of the timber with a maximum of eight feet (8') overhang beyond the truck's front bumper, and a maximum of twenty feet (20') overhang beyond the rear axle.
        2. The portion of the timber resting on the truck bed shall be supported for its entire width.  No overhang is allowed.
        3. Timbers shall be transported on the right (passenger) side of the truck only, unless the door or opening on the left (driver) side would permit the driver to freely enter and exit the cab with a timber in place on that side.
      2. On tractor and semi-trailer, timber overhang shall be limited to seventy-five percent (75%) of the length of the portion of the timber that is carried ahead of the rear axle, with a maximum of twenty-five feet (25').
      3. On tractor and pole trailer, there is no limitation on overall length.  Overhang shall not exceed one half (1/2) of the overall timber length or twenty-five feet (25'), whichever is the lesser.
      4. On tractor and house moving dolly:
        1. Timber length shall not exceed sixty-five feet (65')
        2. Overhang beyond the dolly shall not exceed one half (1/2) the timber length.
        3. Not more than two (2) timbers shall be transported at one time.
        4. The tractor shall be capable of stopping the combination in the distances prescribed in the Revised Code of Washingtom (RCW herein) 46.37.351.
        5. On the tractor, timbers shall be rigidly secured to either a standard logging bunk or a steel bunk with an interchangeable fifth-wheel pin.
        6. The dolly shall be licensed for house moving and shall be used in conjunc-  tion with a tractor licensed for the total gross weight of the move as required by the RCW.
        7. Tail lights, directional lights, and brake lights mounted on a fixed frame shall be attached to the rear end of the timber(s).  These lights shall be connected to the truck electrical system and shall be in proper working condition.
        8. For brakeless vehicles the permit shall restrict speed for the combination to twenty-five miles per hour (25 MPH), with a lesser speed on downgrades consistent with item (d) above, and shall prohibit movement when roadways are slippery due to weather conditions.
  3. Safety
    1. Familiarity with Safety Code:  An authorized house mover shall be familiar with the Washington State Safety Code and shall comply with its requirements.
    2. Personnel on Roof:
      1. Personnel who are on the roof of the building handling overhead power lines shall wear rubber gloves that are capable of withstanding high voltages, and that are in good condition in order to fully protect the wearer.
      2. These gloves shall be Salsberry'sâ steam cured lineman's rubber gloves with Salsberry'sâ lineman's glove protector rated for a minimum of ten thousand volts (10,000 V), or equivalent by another manufacturer.
    3. Ladder:  A ladder of a length to reach from the ground to the roof of the building being moved shall be kept readily available on each move.
    4. Blocks:  Blocks capable of holding the unit being moved shall be carried on each move.  In the event of winching, the blocks shall be kept near the downhill side of the wheels in order to prevent a runaway should the winch cable slip.
    5. House Blocking Street:  When an authorized house mover leaves a house on a street, and in doing so blocks the street to through traffic, he/she shall notify the Seattle Fire and Police Departments of that fact.
    6. Other Personnel:  
      1. During the moving of a building, an authorized house mover shall have available sufficient personnel to safely and properly handle the following details:
        1. Driving the towing truck, the pilot cars, and any other vehicles needed in order to comply with the requirements set forth in this document.
        2. Flagging traffic around the building any time it is stationary.  This includes pedestrian traffic and either a protected walkway or a flagger shall be provided when the sidewalk and planting strip are blocked. [NOTE:  A flagger shall have successfully completed a State of Washington course in Flagging and Traffic Control and shall have a valid flagger's card in his/her possession while on duty.]    
        3. Attending to blocks required to be near the downhill side of dolly wheels during winching operations.  There shall be at least one attendant per dolly.
      2. In the event that a CVEO determines that additional escort personnal are needed, he/she may pause the operation until such personnel arrive.
      3. When a building is stopped for any reason on an arterial roadway, escort personnel shall remain with the building until the building can be moved off the arterial.
    7. Other Equipment:  An authorized house mover shall carry one spare set of dollies per building on each move.


Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.