Most days, Rick Geddes can be found working under a 60-ton house. Literally. As the owner of Geddes Building Movers, Inc., Rick and his crew of four employees specialize in raising, shoring up and moving buildings. A business that requires them to work underneath the building.
Rick got his start as a teenager when he worked for a mobile home company and began jacking up small buildings as a side job. Even after becoming a teacher, he continued part-time in the summers. Fast-forward nearly 40 years and Rick’s full-time house- moving business, based in Bow, New Hampshire, has him crisscrossing the northeast from Pennsylvania to Maine.
As the name suggests, the company moves homes and historic buildings to new locations throughout New England. But most projects involve raising turn-of-the-century homes to replace old stone foundations or installing basement foundations on lakefront cabins being converted to year-round homes.
“We’re probably 90% foundation replacement and 10% moving,” Rick says.
The work involves raising or “jacking up” a home with hydraulic lifts, shoring up the structure on wooden piers that Rick describes as “giant Jenga pieces” and then excavating and trenching underneath. A separate contractor pours the new basement foundation.
Reliable, powerful and compact
This skilled and precise work requires reliable, powerful and compact equipment. Rick relies on a mix of Bobcat equipment that includes T595 and T590 compact track loaders and E26 and E85 mini excavators.
The equipment must fit in tight spaces but still deliver big power. After operating different brands “side-by-side to see which ones we liked,” it became clear to Rick that the power-to-size ratio of Bobcat equipment was ideal for the work.
It’s a far cry from Rick’s early years in the business when he did much of the work by hand.
“What used to take me three or four hours, I can now do in 10 or 15 minutes having a machine, so it’s that much easier,” he says.
On each job, the Bobcat machines work in tandem. The narrow frame of the Bobcat E26 mini excavator makes it possible to access the area directly underneath the home. The tight space leaves little room for repositioning the machine, so over-the-side lift capacity helps keep productivity high.
“You can drive right in and dig sideways,” Rick says. “That’s a big advantage.”
On homes with an existing stone foundation, the E26 equipped with a breaker attachment can open spaces in the walls in order to raise the structure.
“On a regular foundation it would take us two hours to put a hole in it by hand. With the breaker, it takes literally less than two minutes,” Rick says.
The compact track loaders also do their fair share of excavating and moving material. The tight turn radius makes it possible to work in between and around the wooden piers.
“The maneuverability and their power is what makes all the difference in the world,” Rick says.
Big power in small packages
“If you get any smaller than the E85, it’s like trying to load a truck with a teaspoon,” Rick says.
He calls the E85 the muscle of the operation without being too large for residential jobsites. Whether working on tree-lined yards or between homes in urban areas, oversized equipment is simply not an option for Rick and his crew.
“People want to keep their trees, and they want to keep their landscaping,” he says. “You can take the E85 and get between two trees that are only 10 feet apart. You can’t do that with a boom truck.”
Service for small operations
The service provided by Bobcat of New Hampshire is irreplaceable for a small operation like Geddes Building Movers, which relies on each machine every day. Rick says the dealership understands the importance of avoiding downtime at all costs. When a bolt on his breaker broke at closing time on a Friday, he didn’t lose time waiting on a replacement.
“They had it delivered to my shop by 9 o’clock on Monday morning. You can’t get much better than that,” he says.
With multiple house-moving projects in the works and more than 100 on the schedule, Geddes Building Movers needs all the uptime and reliability it can get – and Bobcat equipment and Bobcat of New Hampshire will deliver.
Read about more Bobcat excavators at work – including this one that’s helping carve out bike trails in the Tennessee mountainside.