House recycling finds success

Ken Ball, the owner of a house moved to his property by the Goosefoot Affordable Housing Program, cuts drainage channels in the mud Monday to prepare the house site for foundation work. - Matt Johnson
Ken Ball, the owner of a house moved to his property by the Goosefoot Affordable Housing Program, cuts drainage channels in the mud Monday to prepare the house site for foundation work.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

Two years after they saw their new home torn off its foundations near Mutiny Bay and plopped onto a foundation in Greenbank, Terri and David Schaal are no longer alone.

The Schaal's were first of a number of South Whidbey families to receive what are essentially "recycled" homes from a two-year-old program that is bringing affordable housing to landed, but cash-poor families. The program is also making use of homes that would have otherwise been demolished in neighborhoods undergoing gentrification.

Two weeks ago, a house moving crew working for the Bayview non-profit Goosefoot Community Fund, moved the sixth and seventh houses under the Goosefoot Affordable Housing Program. The moves gave permanence to an effort that started in 2000 as an experiment and made owning a house on South Whidbey an option for some who were sure they could not afford it.

Terri Schaal said she is glad to see the program working. When she and her husband received their house, they had been sitting on a 5-acre piece of property for 20 years, unable to come up with the cash to build a home. By getting the home through Goosefoot, as well as a no-interest loan to make the house liveable, the Schaals and their three children were able to move into a 1,300-square-foot home for about $50,000.

"It's awesome," Schaal said.

The Shaals and other house recipients get their homes from property owners who want to tear down old homes to make room for new ones. Linda Moore, an attorney who works for Goosefoot and who serves on its board of directors, said homeowners can choose to donate their houses to the Goosefoot program for almost the same price as demolishing them. By giving over the house and $10,000 to $15,000 -- the approximate price of demolishing a home -- donors can receive tax breaks and can feel good knowing that someone else can use a house they did not want.

The new owners of the recycled homes are expected to do much of the construction work required to make them liveable and comfortable. They are also required to get a bank loan after the homes are on new foundations to do additional construction work and to repay Goosefoot for the "bridge" loans it offers to get construction started.

The two most recent house moves done by the Goosefoot crew differed greatly in nature. The first removed a 4-year-old, 3,100-square-foot home from its foundation on Smugglers Cove Road and sent it to an adjoining property. The second took a small house off Brighton Beach to a wooded acreage off Bob Galbreath Road.

Moore said that in the first case, a couple purchased a piece of property they loved, but a house they wanted to replace, even though it was almost new. In the second, moving the old beach house makes room for a larger new home.

The Smuggler's Cove house will be resold by Goosefoot, with proceeds going into the affordable housing program. Moore said the house was too large and too new for a low-income family to afford, especially at property tax time. She said the non-profit expects to sell the house for around $700,000.

The second house went to Ken Ball and Danieal Stull. The couple, who currently live in Scatchet Head with their 5-year-old son, Kevin, will have a new place to live within a couple of months. Ball, who spent time Monday cutting drainage ditches under the house to dry the ground for foundation work, said he looks forward to a day when Kevin can play in the family's five acres of woods and "chase after bugs" instead of being confined to a small yard.

Ball and Stull both work at The Doghouse in Langley. The purchased their property about nine months ago and found out about the recycled home program shortly thereafter.

"I'm actually pretty happy with the whole situation," Ball said.

Debbie Torget, the administrative manager for Goosefoot, said most new homeowners, like Ball and Stull, can expect to get into their homes for between $60,000 and $70,000, not including the price of the land.

"It's a very affordable mortgage," she said.

In all, Goosefoot's house moving crew transported three houses this summer. Torget said the non-profit probably will not move more houses until next summer.

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