MOVING DAY: House rescued from dump

Crews from J. Jonassen Inc. of Fruitport gave new meaning to the word motorhome on Tuesday. The crews moved the home, once located at 12950 Ail Drive in Robinson Township, for the Vander Zwaag family.
Alex Doty
Mar 28, 2012


“We rescued it days before it would be going into the dumpster, and we are moving it to another location,” homeowner Sonya Vander Zwaag said. “It is going behind my business, Precision Lawn Care on Lake Michigan Drive. It’s about 4 miles away from here.”

The home was originally purchased by the state for demolition in preparation for the M-231 bypass project. Quick work by the moving contractor nearly three weeks ago resulted in the purchase of the home.

“I think it’s pretty unbelievable that I’ll be getting a house bigger than the house I live in now for a third of the cost,” Vander Zwaag said. “This will be my permanent residence.”

The home is approximately 1,900 square feet and, according to 2010 construction statistics, it would cost $167,200 to build. It is estimated that $60,000 will be put into the entire project, which includes purchasing and relocating the home.

“I think it’s less than 10 years old and it’s a gorgeous house,” she said.

Jason Jonassen of J. Jonassen Inc. said from start to finish, the entire project should take about 5-6 working days.

“The easy part is getting the house up and ready to go," he said. "The harder part is a bit of the coordination of mailboxes, power companies, permits, police escorts — that sort of thing. The actual moving part is quite simple.”

According to Jonassen, the process involves jacking up the house, rolling it off its foundation, putting it on wheels, putting it on the road, and then putting it on a set of lower tires so it clears power lines. He said the entire process was expected to take about four hours to complete.

“It is challenging, but you do enough of them and a lot of them are the same project,” he said. “It’s fun to do houses like this because of how wide it is. There’s a little bit more of a challenge.”

The process is what Vander Zwaag calls “upcycling” — in which people make items out of old ones.

Vander Zwaag said the house is not her first “upcycling” project.

“I have wall decorations made out of old windows and I have a garage full of cabinets purchased on the side of the road for $50,” she said.

Vander Zwaag said she encourages more people to take advantage of opportunities such as her finding the new house.



My wife and I are truly happy for the family saving their home especially given the fact we are being forced out as well and know the heartache involved when the home you love will end up as rubble in a land fill and in our case it may be just weeks away.
That being said we feel it will be great for commuters and for the local economy however we are left feeling a bit upset about the lack of courtesy on the part of the moving company; we had no notice at all our home was to be used as a staging area for the move. We did not understand why our dog was acting weird and upset about something until we noticed tracks and ruts in our front yard. We were puzzled who would do such damage and say nothing, no note or anything and then we recognized our fence and driveway on the news featuring the heavy equipment, trucks and people in our yard, we wouldn't mind other than the damage left behind and no notice we were taking a passive role in a house move.

We have no issue with the family or the news crew as we feel it unlikely they were the cause of any of the damage; we just wanted to let people know that we felt it callous to assume it was ok to trample on the home we have only weeks left to enjoy with no letter, note or representative from the movers asking our permission or offering to repair the damaged area, with such little time left to live here it is doubtful we would ask anyone to spend money repairing our lawn but the consideration would have been appreciated.
Mike and Margie
12124 Lincoln St.


Dear Mike and Margie,
Am I understanding your concerns correctly? The sherrifs department had Lincoln street closed and we were changing out the equipment under the house in the middle of the street in front of your house at 9 am in the morning which upset you because it made your dog bark and Consumers Power drove on your grass that you allready sold to the State of Michigan? You actually had to watch all that happen? And your dog had to listen? Please accept my sincere apologies for using the county road in front of your house and making your dog bark, I will make sure I give you advance notice if I move a house down that road again, please also convey my apologies to your dog. Dave Jonassen


Dave let me begin by pointing out you and your equipment can be seen on TV on my property beyond the right of way, I still own and maintain it and I find your comments both insensitive and condescending considering this emotional time for our family.
If I may let me try to explain; to those passing by it’s just another house on Lincoln but to us it’s home and our sanctuary; we planned on living out our days and watching our grandchildren grow there, that home has seen first steps and echoed many mangled first words; much love and laughter has been contained within walls that by the stroke of a pen are to be no more.
Regardless of the inescapable fact that it’s not ours much longer it's still ours and we ask simply to be respected in the most basic of ways. It is unfortunate for us all that in this instance that measure of compassion has escaped you; I am surprised you chose this time to offer up insensitive comments and with finger pointing rather than a simple statement of apology.
Dave, saying I’m sorry is not an admission of any guilt or wrongdoing, it simply reflects a recognition of the suffering of others and that being said I am sorry if I upset you but for all who may read this please understand we got an emotional punch in the guts a couple weeks ago and it aches when I think of growth marks on a doorframe ending up as mulch or printer paper…the thoughts of what shall be lost beyond wood, paint and carpeting hurt all the way to the soul and we find ourselves slowly removing the reminders of lives lived so that when the day comes we will have already said goodbye on our own terms and in our own way.
PS, the dog is fine; her unusual behavior was her way of telling us something different happened that day but thanks for asking.


As the former owner of the home at 12950 Ail Dr. We wanted to Thank You for rescuing our home. It was one of the hardest things we ever had to do so a happy ending for you is truly a blessing. We hope the home brings you as much joy as it did us. The Frankhouse's


We were very happy to see a house and home rescued from the jaws of the excavator and it was very cool to watch a house move, I do not in any way wish to cause any upset or diminish the joy of saving a home by my reacting emotionaly to the movers, my wife and I said "chalk one up for the good guys!" when we saw your home on the trucks next to Lincoln.
God Bless the new home site!
Mike and Margie Squire


Jjonassen, wouldn't it have made for better business not to try to publically humiliate this family? A Phone call to them or a visit to his address provided to explain it was not your company but rather the Power company would have been a more appropriate response. Many people will see your post and it will cost you in the long run. You attract a lot more bees with honey than with vinegar!


Newsblogger, I totally agree with you!!! Not good customer service practice at all, Jjonassen.


We devoted considerable resources to relocating a 114,000 pound structure 48' wide and 26' tall almost 4 miles down county and state roads on schedule and on budget in a safe manner. This included incredible cooperation and cordination with Pitsch companies, Ottawa county road commission, Ottawa county sherriffs department, MDOT, MDOT permits, Consumers Power, Att, Charter cable, and many others. It also required the removal of over 20 traffic control signs and almost every mile box over several miles and their reinstallation as well as the rerouting of 7,200 volt power lines and the temporary disconnection and reconnection of residental services. We estimated 6 hours of road time and believe we were off the road in just under five hours. It's what we do. We certainly did not intend to publiclly humiliate anyone and do understand the trauma that relocation involves for Mike and Margie but we are just moving a house. The first 7,200 volt line we encountered was in front of their house and we actually swapped out the wheels (dollies) in front of their house lowering the vertical load profile about 18" as planned. Their public letter left the impression that we were using their property without permission and left it trashed while we were actually working in a closed county owned right of way with full permission, permits and a police escort. It would have been great if Mike or Margie would have just asked what was going on and given us the opportunity to address any of their concerns prior to public disparging the housemovers. We would also be glad for the opportunity to quote relocating their home which presents a very cost effective and viable option, the office number is 231-865-8121. MDOT is taking the position that all these homes are to be landfilled or burned regardless of age or condition, this is the first house out of approximately 38 that has been upcycled. You would think with all the concerns about the Michigans budget, the econmey, and the enviroment a better why would be found.
J Jonassen


You're clearly skilled and competent at moving homes, however, I believe you could use some help in the area of public relations because I agree with the others - your initial response was unnecessarily harsh and made you sound like an insensitive hothead.

Nobody is questioning how much coordination and hard work this job was, in fact I thought the paper did a nice job conveying that. But a diplomatic response would have appeared much more favorably than your condescending and mocking tone.

Their comment clearly was not a mean-spirited criticism, even if they were wrong in whose fault it was or should have contacted you directly, but I still think you'd seem like a much better businessman with a courteous (and still honest) response.


Things that meant something, then, don't mean a whole lot, now. And the crop of new workers out in the market? To them, life is an entitlement program, and they haven't learned what it means to work hard, yet. -FXDD


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