What you Need to Know About Cranes


The crane will generally be arranged by your dealer. Having a good understanding of what is needed will make the set go smoother.  Have the dealer visit your site (preferably with a representative from the crane company) to meet with your excavator.  Be sure that everyone is on the same page regarding how the site should be prepared for the delivery and set.  Failure to properly prepare the site will cause delays and cost overruns which may be passed-on to you.

Can the Crane "Get" to Your Site?

Generally, the answer is "yes" but don't assume that just because your site is on a main road that it is accessible to a crane.  Cranes must obtain travel permits from state and/or local authorities and there are restrictions on where cranes can travel due to their weight. 

Watch out for the following:

  • Small bridges (especially with posted weight loads)
  • Narrow roads with "hairpin" turns (also a problem for module deliver)
  • Low overpass (also a problem for module deliver)
  • Low electrical wires (also a problem for module deliver)

Be sure your dealer checks with the crane company regarding access before ordering your house.

Avoid Needing an Excavator

Due to site conditions, it may be necessary to have your excavator help move the boxes around the site, either on the day of delivery or set (or both). Having an excavator involved greatly increases the complexity of the set. Avoid needing an excavator if you possibly can.

Watch out for the following:

1. Excavator gets “cold feet” just when he is needed and wants to know “who's responsible” if something happens. It is best to use an excavator who has experience moving modules. Discuss this issue of liability with your excavator in advance. If he is not on board you will need to make other arrangements before the delivery and/or set.

2. Excavator does not have adequate equipment. Modules are HEAVY. Trying to move a module with a machine that is too small is not fun to watch and can cause costly delays. Don't waste time fooling around with inadequate equipment!  Delays in the set will cause ripple effects.  For example, if the set crew can not finish the set as planned they will need to come back at some future date. The roof may not be completed due to limited daylight causing potential problems from leaks. Also, cranes can not generally travel after dark. The crane may need to leave the site before the set is completed so that it can get back to “shop” before dark. Short days in winter can be a real problem when working with cranes. Wasted time during the set will cause multiple problems that can be avoided by proper planning.

3. Rescheduling the set. Delays beyond the dealer's control, such as weather, may cause the set to be rescheduled. The excavator will not be happy because he may need to move his machine back to your job on the day of the set, costing him time and money. Be sure to discuss this scenario with your excavator before it happens.

4. Who pays the excavator? Good question!  Discuss the situation with your dealer and excavator. Make sure, in advance, that everyone knows who is responsible for the cost.

Where Should the Crane Set-up?

Ideally, the crane should be located midway on the “long” side of the house. The boxes (“modules”) should be parked within “reach” of the crane. Contrary to popular belief, the crane can not “reach and pick” a box more than about 25' away (center of box). Cranes do not “walk” the module to the foundation.  Parking the crane on the gable end of the house is not ideal but may be the only option. If a larger crane is need to reach the boxes the cost of the crane will go up dramatically.

The Takeaway

  • Work with your dealer to prepare the site for delivery and set.
  • A properly prepared site will save everyone time, money, and headaches.
  • Be sure that the crane can access your site.
  • All obstacles to the crane must be removed prior to arrival, including snow, piles of dirt, debris, rocks, boulders, trees, buildings, vehicles and overhead lines or cables.
  • The crane set-up area (usually near the foundation) must be level and hard packed.
  • Allow space for the crane to set-up near the foundation.
  • Do not install well or septic if it will interfere with set.
  • Designate an area where the empty carriers can be parked for an extended period of time. Carriers must be accessible to drivers for removal.

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