Homeowner donates house to charity, and IOP woman gets a new place to live

Rusty Shumpert of Carolina House Movers said the company used to move about 18 homes a year; now they take them as they come. The recent 14-block move of a 3,000-square-foot house took three hours on the Isle of Palms. Situating the house on the lot and setting it up to raise 12 feet took a few more days.

jessica miller

Debra Farinello had been struggling since 2005 to replace a home lost to fire. The owner of an old beach house wanted to build a better home for his aging mother on a family lot.

Carolina House Movers offered a solution for both Isle of Palms residents.

The former homeowner, who asked not to be named, donated the 3,000-square-foot home to a private foundation called Societa Dante Alighieri; Farinello bought it for $21,000 and paid contractors the cost of setting it up about 14 blocks away. The West Columbia company moved the home overnight on Feb. 8.

Rusty Shumpert, Carolina House Movers president, said the truck traveled about walking pace, stopping every so many feet so that South Carolina Electric & Gas linemen could raise utility wires along city streets. It took three hours to roll it 14 blocks. By 5 a.m. the home was on Farinello's Cameron Boulevard lot.

Then the Carolina House Movers crew situated the home to place a sunroom and allow the entire structure to be raised 12 feet later this week so a garage can be built beneath the structure.

"It's a slow, painstaking process," Shumpert said.

Watching it might be similar to waiting for a flower to bloom, he said. Farinello could be living in the home within 90 days.

The move wasn't cheap, but it saved both owners some costs.

Demolishing the donated home on Isle of Palms would have cost about $18,000-$45,000, according to figures from www.hometowndemolitioncontractors.com. Karen Berry, one of the owners of Berry & Sons Demolition Contractors Inc. of West Ashley, agreed. Home demolition can cost anywhere from $6 to $15 per square foot, she said.

Each job depends on the home, materials it's built out of, its current condition such as whether it's been burned, and the distance from the landfill, Berry said. Charleston County doesn't have a construction and demolition landfill. A haul from Charleston to Dorchester or Berkeley county landfills can be an hour round trip, Berry said.

"Move a house, save a tree," Shumpert often says. "We're the largest recycler in the country."

And if the homes are donated, as Farinello's beach house was, the former owner can take an income tax deduction.

The town used to permit some 10 to 12 home moves a year, said Isle of Palms Building Department Director Douglas Kerr. But in recent years, it seems that more homeowners choose demolition over selling or donating an old house to make way for a new one.

Shumpert said he's noticed a slowdown in donated homes, too, but that could be due to the current economy.

Some local charities also are less willing to accept donated houses. Christine Pinson, East Cooper Habitat for Humanity's assistant executive director, said the organization has accepted donated homes, but found the process to be too cumbersome. The United Methodist Relief Center's website states that it accepts home donations, but the center couldn't be reached for comment.

Guido Evangelista of Societa Dante Alighieri said his organization takes about two donated homes a year. The group sells them or moves them to its own property. The problem with accepting the homes is the cost involved in moving and ensuring the structure conforms to building codes afterward, he said.

Though Evangelista also lives on the Isle of Palms, he hadn't heard of Farinello's story until after she found the home for sale on the Web.

Farinello will have paid $100,000 to set up her house when the process is final. The costs include taking down utilities and getting necessary permits from the S.C. Department of Transportation. In Farinello's case, Carolina House Movers could move the home only from 1 to 6 a.m. so it wouldn't interfere with traffic, a requirement set by the Department of Transportation for Charleston County and other populated areas of the state.

Reach Jessica Miller at 937-5921.