Tools to Lift a House


Lifting a home can seem like a daunting task--and in some ways it is. It is certainly not a project to be taken on lightly. The tools needed to lift a house are surprisingly few. You'll need house jacks, steel I-beams, plus up to several hundred 4-foot 2 x 4s or 4 x 4s, preferably oak. The only other things you need are patience, a few friends to help and agreeable weather.

Things You'll Need

  • Four to eight 30-ton house jacks
  • Two to four 50-foot steel I-beams
  • Several hundred 4-foot oak 2 x 4s or 4 x 4s

Start by turning off all utilities to the house. The last thing you need when lifting a house is a live broken electrical wire or a snapped gas line.

Break all cement, stucco or other connections between the house and the foundation so the house is free to lift off of the foundation.

Crawl under the house and remove all wiring and pipes that could be crushed during the lifting process.

Slide two or more 50-foot long steel I-beams under the house, one on each side of the house (plus one or more in the middle of the house if the house is too large to be lifted by only two beams). Line the beams up perpendicular to the floor joists.

Place a house jack under each end of your I-beams. You want the I-beams on top of the jacks and as level as possible.

Raise all four house jacks a few inches at a time. This is where it pays to have friends helping. There is less danger of stress cracks to the house if all four jacks are raised the same amount at the same time so that the house remains level as it rises. Continue raising the house an inch or two at a time until the house is approximately 18 inches off of the foundation.

Lay your oak 2 x 4s or 4 x 4s under the I-beams in a crisscross pattern. This is called cribbing. The cribs are put into place to help hold up the house in case of a problem. Continue raising the house an inch or two at a time. Whenever you raise it another 12 inches place additional oak cribbing member under the I-beams.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make certain that you and all members of your house-raising team know how to use a house jack. Practice if necessary before trying to lift the house.
  • Work slowly. Raising a house even 18 inches may take a full day or more.
  • Wear work gloves and heavy clothing.
  • Make certain you have enough light under the house so you can see what you are doing.
  • You may want to use oak 2 x 4s or 4 x 4s as a base under each jack.
  • Think at least one step ahead at all times. Caution is the key. Never put any part of your body under a steel I-beam even when supported by a crib.

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