... With a happy ending. This is us:
We needed a kitchen table. After all, a kitchen and its table are the heart of every home. But, which to choose: color, size, medium. At that time we were living in a small 30 year old single-wide home that was crowded with treasures from two lives that became one. We barely had enough room to get out of one another’s way, much less have room for another piece of furniture. There was another option… We buy the perfect table and keep it for the house we planned to buy. That was over 7 years ago. And at that time we’d been married for a little over a year. We were full of plans and dreams like most newly married couples. But from that point on we had one major goal: to get a house. Michael proposed to me on a hill overlooking our then current mobile home. We only dreamed that we would be able to afford to design and build our own home, but feared we might have to purchase an existing home. We began our search with a list… I’m told I’m great at making them. The list would give us an idea of what we expected in our home. How we planned to live and what features meant most to us. Our list grew long and we sought a home with as many of the features as possible. I wanted a large kitchen that the gals in our family could gather and cook in…perhaps something with an island. Michael wanted a fireplace reminiscent of historical homes. Mostly, we wanted enough room in our home to bring our families together. We both had memories of strong grandmothers who acted as anchors that drew the family together. Homes filled with laughter and love and lots of people! Both matriarchs have since passed and left withering get-togethers that never truly feel the same. We wanted our home to be the source of life and love for our future children. We’d heard horror stories of stick built homes and the difficulties and delays that occur during a traditional build. We decided to go with a manufactured home. It seemed like a logical choice and much more straightforward. But neither of us had ever even so much as ordered a brand new vehicle, much less a home. We started looking at lots. Local lots, lots in surrounding states, lots while on vacation… we even considered home kits and partial build packages. We pored over thousands of floor plans and visited hundreds of lot models. We stood in nearly a thousand versions of someone else’s dream. We took literally 1000’s of photos of homes that had a great feature or version of what we wanted. Meanwhile years passed and many Christmas’s and birthdays passed with gifts purchased for use “in the house” or “for the house”. We had pots, pans, sofas, lamps, bedding with plastic and price tags still attached… all saved for a home we’d never even seen yet. And we saved… Tax returns and every spare cent became “poof” money as in “poof” it’s gone…disappeared into a bank account rarely touched and then only for “house” items. We were able to pay off the land the single-wide stood on. We owned our own dirt but still no house, only a 30 year old mobile home that required much regular maintenance.
It seemed some folks knew exactly what they thought we should and shouldn’t buy. Everyone had an opinion, even the folks on some lots. One particular floor plan seemed to resurface throughout the years. It seemed closest to our dream, but although it still lacked a few details it just felt like home. One day we walked onto the lot of LUV Homes in Kingsport, TN. We were greeted warmly by Joshua Daniels. We’d never met someone so accommodating that seemed more interested in our dream than the bottom line. We’d dropped by earlier that week to pick up some floor plans and there it was, a similar plan and that déjà vu feeling of home. By this time we knew so much about manufactured homes that we could have sold them ourselves. We cringed and waited for the typical “How much of payment can you afford” or other questions designed to determine how quickly a profit could be made. But they never came. Josh was very patient, very kind and had a sense of humor. Most of all he wanted to help make our dreams come true. Anyone who’s lived in an older mobile home can tell you that though you’re grateful to have a home, they take bunches of upkeep and maintenance. A $600 water bill here, a $400 power bill there & plumbing repairs at $300 a pop. I cried and prayed to God every time Michael had to go below in freezing temperatures to fix a water leak. Winters were cold and summers were hot.
Anyone who’s ever purchased a home will tell you that it can be a harrowing experience. Enough to test the patience of a saint. But for some reason every time an issue came up we would pray and remind ourselves to trust God. The obstacles we encountered were many, but at every turn we would look back in wonder at what all had to take place to make each issue work out the very best. There’s no way you can look at our experience and not see the hand of God. To make an already long story short, hundreds of emails and 69 changes later (I told you Josh was patient!) we’re home. The folks that set up the home were amazing and professional. Once set up we had the pleasure of meeting Don and his son Brad who process service requests and repairs. No detail or question is too small for Don who helps us take care of our home with the same care and precision as if it were his own.
As I write I’m sitting on our den sofa looking out the windows at either side of the fireplace in our new home where the deer like to sleep & play in our back yard and don’t pay much attention to our cats. Last weekend for Michael’s birthday we brought up our table, unpacked it and set it up shortly before building a fire in the fireplace for the first time. 9 years earlier Michael had proposed in what is now a spot just to the right of me in our den. Michael and I marvel daily at this dream that surrounds us. It’s unbelievable and we wish to thank everyone at Clayton homes who participated to make our dream come true. We joke often that should we win the lottery there is absolutely nothing we would change. We were able to customize our home to meet every single item on our list so what more do we need?
This Thanksgiving we invited both families over for a grand feast. The first of it’s type since we were children. I’ve got my kitchen, he’s got his fireplace. We’ve got a utility area that acts as an “airlock” to keep our cats from laying siege to our home and wreaking havoc on Michael‘s asthma. But, most of all, we’re warm, we’re happy and we’re home.
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