DIY House Crane

A reader submission showing creativity in his lifting Solutions!  A big  Thank You to “A Treehouse Dweller” for this story about building a house crane to access his tall home.  Of course, this is pretty cool in my opinion. It’s also quite creative in the way he built it, and in the way he uses it.  Enjoy.

Customer Story:

House Crane – from “A Treehouse Dweller”

I have a tall house, to get a picture in your head, think of a treehouse.  Everybody who visits it says “It’s like a treehouse!”

Part of the house is a flat roof deck which is on the 5th floor, access by a tight and twisting stairwell.  Just how does one get something large, say, a mattress up onto the roof?  Answer:  Of course, with a House Crane.

Upper Pivot MountBuilt of square aluminum tube and flat bar, this Jib crane uses an off the shelf overhead electric hoist to do the heavy lifting.  The crane construction requires a minimum of tools – a drill press, hacksaw or reciprocating saw, and a few other odd tools.  No welding. Other than the three pieces of aluminum, all hardware is from a good hardware store.

Lower Pivot ProtectionThe boom is approximately 6′ long, and swings 180 degrees from the lower level where it is loaded, to the roof deck where it is unloaded.  The fixed pivot supports for the crane are 1/4″ thick aluminum angle.  To ensure a smooth jib pivot, the jib rotates on 3/4″ tractor hitch pins riding inside bronze bushings.  The bushings have grease lubrication via a grease fitting.  The crane screws to the house using GRK RSS structural screws – 20 screws in total.  Instead of welding the strap to the box tube at the hoist end, I used grade 8 bolts with steel sleeves inside the box to keep it from deforming.

Then the winch at the end.  A nifty electric winch for all the lifting duties.  The direct spool to hook helps with efficiency as a choice for the winch.

House Crane In Action:

This crane has been a workhorse.  I spent a summer replacing the flat roof with the crane to both lower the old material, which amounted to about 3 tons, and to lift all the new material onto the roof.  The heaviest lift I’ve ever attempted is the single piece of rubber roofing (20’x 25′), which weighs 220 lbs.  The limitations on the capacity are likely the attachment to the building, or more likely, the building itself.  Houses are usually not designed to take a horizontal pull such as the upper support which holds the jib.

At the time of this writing the crane is about four years old and has been 100% reliable.  It is a fantastic solution for moving all sorts of things to the upper levels of the house.  Besides being so functional, it is a great conversation starter with visitors!

House Crane Pivoting MountCrane In Action


With the concept of “in the moment problem solving” this is the Mechanic’s Post category for “Solutions!”  These are customer stories about how they have creatively found DIY ways to solve life’s little inconveniences.  While this is just one, we have a whole category dedicated to the wonderful stories.

This is your area, so please share your creations that make life a little easier.  Readers just like you would love to see what you’ve done, while being inspired in their own problem solving.  It doesn’t have to be long, just a short story and some photos.  Just like this solution for a DIY House Crane.  Thanks again to “A Treehouse Dweller” for sending the photos and story.

Now it’s your turn.  If you have done something that others can benefit from seeing, please take some photos, then tell us your story.  Just submit it on this Customer Stories Submission Page.  We’ll format things and post it just like you see here.

Mechanical Elements is the DIY Web Portal for all sorts of projects, so we would love to see your creative solutions too.  Jump in and be a part.  Thank you!

More Crane Info

While not specifically about a house crane, we have some other good articles about cranes.  Try Practical Safety With Cranes as a reminder about making the crane work for you.  Or, see Crane Failure Modes to learn some things to avoid as you keep yourself from disaster.

You can also read about Gantry Cranes we offer in plans.  Thank you for visiting.


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