Sarah Hasson wasn't the type to buckle on a tool belt and go build a house.
She is a loving mother to 2-year-old Lucas and a member of the Dayton ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hasson also suffers from fibromyalgia, a chronic pain illness, which causes her sporadic back pain. She's a self-described girly-girl.
But Hasson, 29, did help build her home, and five others owned by neighbors in Gold Country Estates. This subdivision is a Citizens for Affordable Homes Inc. building project for families such as the Hassons.
In March, Hasson and her husband, Lynn, and Lucas moved into their four-bedroom home with pebblestone-colored vinyl siding and plum accents.
Hasson said plum was their "inspired color." She found the color on a cookie jar in Wal-Mart. The cookie jar is embellished with grape bundles and autumn leaves. It sits in her kitchen, along with the set of serving bowls and canisters.
"I know what the inside of the walls look like," she said. "I know what it looks like under the floor. We did everything that didn't need a contractor."
That means all but the air system, plumbing, foundation, dry wall, electrical, carpet and linoleum.
"It was fun. It was really cool to see the whole thing come together," Hasson said. "I got to participate in every stage of building the house. I know how to build a wall and raise it up. Some days it was too cold and other days too hot, but I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed the process."
It didn't start that way. In the beginning, the Hassons had no savings, no insurance and a baby to care for. The prospect of putting $20,000 down on a home was impossible, even though Lynn Hasson worked full time as an electrician.
"You make too much for assistance and don't make enough to pay for it on your own," she said. "So you're stuck."
With nowhere else to go, the couple considered applying for a government loan, until they found out about self-help housing through Citizens for Affordable Homes. Those who qualify for the housing assistance program must dedicate 35 hours a week to the construction of their group of homes. And that was the problem for Sarah Hasson.
Her husband had always wanted to build his own home. But she was scared because of her back problems and the time it would take her away from Lucas. Her husband told her to pray about it. Hasson still resisted.
At the second annual Oodles of Noodles festival in downtown Dayton the family came across a CAHI information table. She reluctantly approached the table with her husband. A gust of wind blew up the booth's tent, which knocked her in the head. Hasson considered it divine intervention.
"I literally had to get hit in the head to realize this was the right thing to do," she said.
They filled out an application in May 2003, and a year later they were ready to build. Their housing loan is $125,000, plus $10,000 in downpayment assistance.
Applicants are grouped by neighborhoods. Each group progresses at the same level. Together they take classes. This is where Hasson - who had never constructed anything in her life - learned what a floor joist was and how to use a chop saw.
The future homeowners worked together to build all the homes in their group, progressing one level at a time. They never got behind, Hasson said proudly.
Their floor plan was appraised at $160,000.
"I needed to do it for me, personally," she said while sitting on the sectional couch in her living room, which is painted in olive green and tan, also colors lifted from her Wal-Mart kitchenware. "I was the last person in the world who could do this."
Hasson got something more out of the building process. She knows her neighbors.
"Our kids all know each other. It's the coolest feeling in the world. Sometimes when you first move in it takes a long time for the place to feel like home. When we moved in it already felt like home because we'd been here building."
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.