Ranchos woman builds own home
After working every day for 10 years and never getting ahead, handing money over to a landlord for a house that will never be hers, Caren Guerra and her two sons will get their home the only way they can – they’re building it.
The Guerras are one of eight families who are working together, with the help of Citizens for Affordable Homes and the USDA, to build their own homes in the Ranchos.
The organization offers the deal of a lifetime to those who just don’t make enough for a down payment on a house.
“It’s good for a lot of people who can’t come up with that kind of money,” Guerra said.
CAHI helps the families get loans – in Guerra’s case, for $105,000 – if they pass a series of credit checks. They don’t need a down payment, but do have to pay closing costs.
“Since the end of the year, I’ve been working to pay off my bills,” she said.
Guerra, who has lived in Gardnerville for 15 years, has worked as a checker at Raley’s for almost 10 years, as long as she’s been renting her current home.
Guerra said she knows it will be a lot of work to build a home, but it will be worth it.
“Getting a chance to build it is satisfying. I will be able to look at the house and say, ‘I did this.'” she said. “It will be worth it on move-in day.”
The eight families began building last week, and all will work together to make sure everyone’s house gets built like an old-fashioned barn-raising. Each family has a responsibly to their own home, though.
Each family was required to attend construction classes one night a week in Carson City before building began.
“They go over all the tools and using all the big stuff. I’m doing a lot of reading,” Guerra said.
Once the foundation is laid, the group starts work. They will do 68 percent of the work, but will bring in professionals for the electricity, plumbing, drywall and floors.
Each family is required to put in 35-40 hours a week on their house, but anyone who knows how to swing a hammer is welcome.
“Anyone can stop by and help, they just have to tell the supervisor who they want to put in hours for. But half the hours have to come from us,” Guerra said.
Working full time, in addition to the fact that Guerra doesn’t have a spouse to help her, may make it difficult, she admits, but she will have help.
“It’s not going to be easy, but all my co-workers have said they will go out and help a lot,” she said.
Guerra also is getting a lot of help from long-time family friend attorney Alan Erb. Students from Rite of Passage also will be at the site for help.
The site on Wagon and Wheeler roads will be known as Cahi Circle, and will eventually have 24 homes built by the families who live in them. Ten lots are still available. For more information about applying, call 883-7101.
The neighborhood will be tied together with a small park in the middle of the circle with playground toys for the kids and barbecues and picnic tables.
The families get to pick their floor plan and the little features.
Guerra said her boys, Jose, 14, and Ryan, 10, were excited about the planning part, since they can’t actually work at the site because of their ages.
Guerra also visibly perks up when she talks about her new house.
“We get to pick the colors, the carpet, the vinyl, the cabinets. It will be a two story split-level with four bedrooms and a study. It has two car garage and two baths,” she said with a smile. “I can’t wait to get started.”