Why would we take on the overwhelming task of building our own house as “Owner Builder?” We have a unique story to share with you. In 2007, we had two sons, eight months old and four years old, along with a chocolate lab. We built what we thought was our dream home. Two years and two months later, we discovered that it was not a dream, but a nightmare.
In June 2009, we had the air conditioner serviced for the fifth time and the serviceman mentioned having our walls checked for Chinese drywall. As we quickly put the puzzle pieces together of the corroding a/c coils, an electrical inspection showed that the wiring in the house was aged to that of eighty-year-old wiring instead of two years old. The sulfur gases as well as other noxious chemicals that were off gassing from the walls was creating a toxic home, soaked into the furniture, fabric, stuffed animals, and even some plastics, which lead to replacing almost everything in the house. As thoughts go through our minds, the biggest frustration is that we, especially our son who was eight months old when we moved in, has extraordinary food intolerances and hypersensitivity to chemicals and smells.
Six months later, after we moved into a rental house, our Chinese drywall house began having sinkhole activity. We went through the process of insurance testing and they determined that there were caverns over 50 feet deep. Chinese drywall AND a sinkhole! There are days we wish that it would have been swallowed up, but instead we had a crash course as we researched and learned about sinkholes. At the time, we did not know if we would move back into the house and it was repaired the most effective way with helical piers around the house with low level grouting.
In 2014, we received a settlement check from our insurance company which was not anywhere near the bids we had received to repair the Chinese drywall situation. With God given discernment, we demoed the house to cinder block and studs, and then rebuilt it. It was an experience to pull permits and find subcontractors. The county permits were approved in 3 days – God truly was in the details!
As we share our brief version of the five-year journey, we should tell you that God honored our faithfulness and a buyer came along two weeks before the bank was going to start foreclosure. With a check in hand, we went to closing and were thankful for the bittersweet end of owning the Chinese drywall / sinkhole property.
As we walked through that five-year process of owning an unlivable house, we lived in a rental house for almost two years until the owners let the rental property go into foreclosure in 2010. In 2011, with a third newborn son, we were able to purchase a foreclosure house, which we made our home with all new flooring, paint, lighting, mirrors, sod and landscaping. It was located in a wonderful gated community, but with that there was the cost of HOA, and bills which reflected a house that is less than what would be considered a green home.
In 2016, two side by side acre lots went on the market, in a rural suburb area of Tampa. A perk is that it’s two lots down from friends. Must be a great street! One of the two lots sold right away. We inquired about the lot but with it being a higher than budgeted price, we waited. Two months later, a sermon about not just being hearers, but doers stepped on our toes about taking the steps needed to follow God’s word to lower our monthly bills and live more debt free. That week, we made an offer on the land. The realtor informed us that there had been no activity on the property until two days prior and our offer was the third one. The next day, they accepted our offer. We closed on the property with thankfulness of God’s confirmation.
This past June, after living in our renovated foreclosure home for 6 ½ years we sold it with mixed emotions. Best neighbors ever!
Land To Home will unfold each week as we post to document how we walked through this journey and the details as our story unfolds and our home is built….
Maybe you too will be inspired to take on your own journey of building a house and/or make your house a healthy home!