The request was the same every afternoon.
Any time Amanda Lukins loaded her two children, 5-year-old Cole and Isabell, 3, they wanted to take a detour to a quiet neighborhood in Franklin.
Pulling into a cul-de-sac, they stopped in front of a one-story brick house. Soon, it’ll be their home.
“We have to drive by at least once a day to see what they’ve done,” Lukins said. “They’re so excited.”
Lukins and her family are the most recent recipients of a house built by Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County. They will leave behind the small two-bedroom apartment that they had been living in, trading it in for a spacious backyard, rooms for each child and a sense of ownership she never had before.
“It is it a timely thing, but it’s worth it. I can come in here and do what I want as far as decorating. I can own it eventually,” Lukins said.
Habitat for Humanity builds low-cost houses and sells them to families who otherwise could not afford one. The new owners receive a 20-year, interest-free mortgage for the house and are responsible for monthly mortgage payments of about $350.
New owners also are asked to put down $700 on the house to help cover closing costs. Families take financial classes and pay “sweat equity” — 300 hours of volunteer labor on their home and other Habitat and community projects.
Lukins became aware of Habitat for Humanity after her brother volunteered on a build. When he described the process, she felt that it would be ideal for her situation and her family.
“The payments on it would be cheaper than my rent,” Lukins said. “You get more space and a yard. That’s something we’re excited for.”
A single mother, Lukins works as a nanny during the week. On weekends, she is an aide at Homeview Health and Rehabilitation in Franklin.
‘A very good thing’
She submitted her application two years ago. Habitat for Humanity has to do a comprehensive investigation to make sure candidates will be good stewards of the houses they build, so Lukins provided financial information, her employment history and past housing situations.
Representatives inspected her apartment and talked to her about what a Habitat for Humanity house would allow her family to do.
Lukins learned she had been accepted in early 2013. She went to work on the sweat equity, including volunteering at Homeview and at Head Start in Franklin, where Cole goes to school.
She took a Dave Ramsey financial literacy class, which prepared her to plan for the bills and monetary responsibilities of home ownership.
Construction on her own home started May 7.
The project is the 13th for Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County. It was dubbed the “heroes build,” with most of the volunteer labor coming from area fire and police departments and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.
Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County has put together projects with volunteers from local churches and a women-only build.
Themes help draw attention to each construction project and bring a large group of available volunteers to help complete each home, said Lee Ann Wilbur, executive director.
“We started putting themes to the build, so we wanted to get together with our local heroes. Who better to help build a house?” she said. “It’s turned out to be a very good thing.”
‘I can pay it off’
Crews worked three or four days a week for six weeks.
Lukins was present each day. She helped put up wall studs and drywall. When it was time to paint, she was one of the first people with a brush in hand.
“To be able to put my time and effort into finishing it will help me appreciate this house a lot more,” she said. “Every little thing in here, except the carpet, I helped with.”
The family will move in Sunday.
Monthly payments will be between $300 and $450, depending on the final costs of the project. Still, since she’s paying $400 each month in rent, it will be worth it.
“I can pay it off to own it, instead of an apartment where I’m paying for nothing,” Lukins said.
Currently, she’s planning how to decorate the house. Cole’s room will be a bright shade of blue, while Isabell will get purple walls. She’s going to paint the interior and living room in a neutral tan.
Cole is excited by the prospect of having a long driveway to ride his bike and a backyard for the swing set he’s always hoped to have.
“Where we live at now, there’s no place to have a swing set,” Lukins said. “This will be their first one.”