Thirty years ago this month I moved into my current residence. I am grateful to have been part of the “self help” program in which residents put in “sweat equity” hours towards building their homes and the homes of others in their group.
Now the Community Resources & Housing Development Corporation locates the “self help” houses in a subdivision on south Craft Avenue, but at the time our group built our houses, we bought lots around town and built on them. There were five in our group. As far as I know, three of us are still in the houses we built three decades ago. Louise lives down the street from me and Bill and Ruth live a few blocks away. I have lost track of the other two families, but I don’t think they are still living in the houses we moved into in January 1989.
I believe very strongly in this program, as it provides home ownership for people who might not otherwise be able to get into a home. I am glad that the program is still going strong, with future homeowners pounding in their own nails and painting their own walls.
It’s a lot of work, and I bent many nails, especially the long ones. I did better with the short roofing nails, although getting up on the roof was a bit scary. I also never minded painting, although I would never be hired as an expert…too many splashes outside the lines. Taping the line helps with that problem, though.
My husband at the time put in a lot of our family hours on the house, as he was a student and had more flexibility in his schedule. I mostly just spent Sundays on the job sites. We were fortunate to have folks like Bill who were good at construction, since some of us (me at least) were not. We always joked, “good enough for who it’s for,” when we were working on our houses, but we actually wound up with some pretty well constructed structures.
We bought a lot from Beth and Quentin Garcia, and I am pleased to call the Garcias neighbors all of these years. Quentin is gone, but Beth is still living next door. Some of my original neighbors are also still living on my home street. Others have passed away.
I haven’t landscaped my property as well as Louise or Bill and Ruth, but maybe someday when I have more time…. I have (with lots of family help) repainted the outside, however, and the interior still serves its basic purposes of keeping the rain and snow out and holding up the furniture. I haven’t modified much inside aside from more nails in the walls to hang things on and some paint on the kitchen and bathroom floors. It’s just me and the dog now, so I can pound as many nails in the wall as I want.
I also like magnets and am lucky to have magnetic front and garage doors, refrigerator, washer, dryer and even a metal plate my brother-in-law made for me to put magnets on.
So no home design magazine is going to feature me in their trendy sections, but that’s never been my goal anyway.
I still like my house, my home, my place of refuge and comfort from the world. At my age I would be hesitant to do this all over again, but I am certainly glad I did it 30 years ago.