As the number of demolished houses continues to grow in Rehoboth Beach, every now and then a house is given a new lease on life. Most recently, a one-story cottage at 226 State Road was moved roughly 50 miles west to Wicomico County, Md., by Gabriel Matyiko.
Matyiko is a third-generation house mover. His grandfather, John Matyiko Sr., started a house and structure moving business in Virginia Beach in the 1950s. His father, Jerry Matyiko, started Expert House Movers in the mid-1970s. Matyiko joined the company in the early 2000s.
Matyiko said his dad spent a lot of his early career moving old beach cottages in Ocean City from the ocean to the bay to make room for bigger houses. Then, he said, he moved those houses to make room for the city’s large hotels. Nowadays, he continued, a lot of their business is lifting houses higher for customers who are looking to meet floodplain regulations.
The night of the move, Nov. 24, Matyiko and his crew were on site a little before 9:30 p.m. The majority of the work – raising the house, removing cinder blocks, getting the trailer underneath – was done in the week leading up to the move, but there were some last-minute boards to place, straps to tighten and other details to finalize that would make the move a successful one.
Among the final details Matyiko personally oversaw was the cutting of a bamboo pole the lead truck would have attached to it to make sure the house fits under power and cable lines.
“The height of the house, plus six inches,” he said on how tall he made the pole. “We’ve used expensive poles before, but they break. This bamboo works just as well, and we have a ton of it readily available at our shop.”
Matyiko said the house was in good shape. He said he plans on renovating it and then selling it. He said moving a house is tedious work, but it saves a lot of resources.
Plus, Matyiko said, a lot of these older houses are built with better materials that aren’t used anymore. There’s a reason they’ve survived so long, he said.
The 50-mile journey began by backing the house out onto State Road so the hauling truck was facing Grove Street. Matyiko said this was done so the porch on the front of the house could be saved.
Once backed out, the crew slowly went down Grove Street, around the circle, down Rehoboth Avenue Extended, up Coastal Highway to Five Points, where they turned west onto Route 9 and went to Maryland.
In an interview prior to the move, Matyiko said the house was almost too wide to move.
“It’s 24 feet wide. If it were even a couple feet wider, it would be too wide,” he said. A few days later, as the house made its way down Grove Street and then around the circle in Rehoboth Beach, it was clear he was right. The driver was experienced, and the team directing him did their job, but there wasn’t much room to spare.
Middle-of-the-night moves are the norm for Matyiko and his team, because there’s just a lot less traffic at night, he said. They’ll move a house in the rain, but not if it’s too heavy. He said fog will also delay a move.
“We’re coming straight at people as we make our way down the roads. We want drivers coming at us to see us coming so they can pull over into the breakdown lanes if the road is too narrow,” he said.
Matyiko had three other trucks accompanying the one moving the house. There was a large truck serving two purposes – it carried all the supplies needed in case the moving truck broke down, and it went ahead of the moving truck scouting out low power lines. There were two smaller trucks trailing the move that helped block intersections.
“People are crazy when they drive around us sometimes,” said Matyiko. “It’s good to be able to help the police with an escort.”