After spending more than a year building his home on the south side of Hayden, Nick Planansky signed the final paperwork May 26. It was pretty obvious what to do next.
"I went straight from there and put mattresses and pillows on our trailer so we could spend our first night here," Planansky said.
Planansky's family has been renting a home, and their lease was to expire two days later. Leases are something Planansky, his wife, Christene, and their three children no longer will have to worry about. The young family now has a mortgage payment and can begin building equity in their home.
"If it weren't for the enormous help we got from people, it wouldn't have happened," Christene Planansky said.
The Plananskys and seven other families are getting settled into their new Hayden homes in the Sagewood Subdivision. The homes were built through the Yampa Valley Housing Authority's Hands on Housing program.
Since April 2005, each of the families has spent at least 30 hours a week building the homes. It is part of a rural development program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that provides low-interest loans and grants to cover administrative costs. The loans covered much of the $150,000 it cost to build each home. At closing, the homes were appraised at $250,000.
"We weren't going to be able to stay here unless we got into the program," Christene Planansky said about living in Routt County.
The couple has been renting a home since moving from Texas two years ago. Nick works for Atmos Energy, and Christene spends most of her time raising their three children, who spent Friday afternoon jumping on the trampoline and playing with other children in the neighborhood. Christene is due to give birth to her fourth child June 24.
"I told her we have to get finished up and moved in before she had the baby," Nick Planansky said.
All eight homes had to be completed before any of the families could move in.
"The human dynamic is the greatest strength but also the greatest weakness," said Elizabeth Black, executive director of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority. "It's a group build, so you're only as strong as your weakest link."
Two families dropped out of the project during the build. Along with the time commitment, working through the winter seemed to be one of the greatest obstacles.
"There were a lot of times when we were at wits ends," Christene Planansky said. "We were like, 'Let's just go back to Texas.'"
The families encouraged one another throughout the building period, and they say it was worth it.
"The whole program is great," Christene Planansky said. "There is no way my husband and I would have been able to afford a house."
The Hayden project is the second of three Routt County YVHA Hands on Housing projects. The program built seven units in Steamboat Springs in 1998. Six homes should be completed later this year in Oak Creek.
YVHA is applying for an----other grant for future projects, but Black said the success of the program is dependent on the availability of land.
"It's one of the many programs that are worthwhile," Black said.