A Kansas Family Relocated And Renovated Their Free Dream Home From 1910
Have you ever daydreamed about the house of your dreams? What about getting it for free? It might sound too good to be true, but that dream became a reality for Julie and Eddie Flores.
The Kansas couple stumbled upon a unique opportunity that allowed them to secure their dream home without paying a penny–imagine that!
For The Love Of Old Homes
Like so many others, 32-year-old Kansas natives Julie and Eddie Flores have always had an affinity for older homes. Such homes possess a certain charm and character that sets them apart from modern constructions. Many love the distinctive architectural features, craftsmanship, and history that can only be found in these types of houses.
However, despite their love for older homes, Julie and Eddie had resolved to admire them from afar. Having been married for five years with three children, they had no intention of moving. They were perfectly content in their Kansas City home. That is until the couple took an unexpected trip to Julie’s hometown.
A Hometown Visit Upends Life As They Know It
In January 2022, the Flores family visited Julie’s hometown of Lincoln, Kansas. While there, Julie’s parents suggested a peculiar activity–to visit an abandoned home nearby that had been vacant and in a state of decay for almost ten years.
Julie and Eddie obliged her parents’ strange proposal to visit the home and set off. But when they arrived at the empty house and took in the frightful sight of its exterior, there was only one word to describe it–horrible.
House Of Horrors?
In terms of curb appeal–this house had none. Its lime green paint job was harsh and out of place, not to mention visibly peeling away. In addition, the roof of the porch was beginning to cave in, and the rest of the house and surrounding property were similarly unkempt.
Squirrels had taken over and could be seen scattering in and out of the unsecured roof. But despite all of the “red flags” the exterior sported, everything changed as soon as Julie and Eddie stepped inside the home.
The Original Home
Though the house now appeared in a state of dilapidation, it wasn’t always that way. The home was built over 100 years ago, in 1910, in a Dutch colonial style typical of the time. It boasted a 2,023-square-foot living space covered in hardwood floors with three bedrooms.
The memory of the old home’s former glory came alive when the couple entered. They immediately fell in love with it as they uncovered its original features, like its stunning staircase and wood floors hidden under the old carpet.
Always Wondering, “What If”
The house certainly made an impression on Julie and Eddie. From the moment they walked inside, they both began to envision its potential and pictured it being a forever home. However, they also agreed they were happy with their life and home in Kansas City, and this was just something to daydream about–and daydream they did.
Weeks went by, and they found themselves still actively thinking about the old home. They imagined their children, Lily, Drey, and Sophie, growing up there and making memories. It was around this time that they heard a rumor about the house.
The House Was In Danger
News reached Julie and Eddie that the house might be demolished unless a new owner was found within a year. The historical home sat on a piece of land acquired by the Lincoln County Hospital & Healthcare Foundation (LCHHF), which sought to develop the land.
However, rather than mindlessly tearing down this local piece of history, the LCHHF gave the Lincoln Economic Development Foundation (LCEDF) a deadline of one year to find a new owner. And the best part is, they offered quite an incentive to the future owner.
Free To Good Owner
Incredibly, the LCHHF was offering the house for free! The news caused a sensation, and the story went viral nationwide in February 2022 after Kelly Gourley, the director of the LCEDF, promoted Lincoln’s “free house” on social media. To manage the overwhelming number of responses to the listing, a local committee had to be established to shortlist potential candidates.
Despite the high competition, Julie and Eddie were determined to pursue ownership of the house. They were inspired by the vision of the life they could build there and submitted an application.
Terms And Conditions Of Owning A Free House
Despite being free, the new house owner had to agree to some stipulations. First, the new owner had to commit to preserving the home within Lincoln due to its historical significance to the community. The century-old property was once inhabited by W.J. Grubbs, one of the town’s original mayors.
Additionally, the new owner was required to reside in the home, as the organization sought a family to live in the house rather than someone looking to profit from flipping it.
And The House Goes To…
You guessed it! Within just a few months, the committee selected Julie and Eddie Flores as the new owners of the house. The couple’s application for Lincoln’s “free home” stood above the rest, and their dream home would soon be in their care.
The couple hired attorneys who prepared a “bill of sale” to formalize the ownership transfer. It served as a written confirmation of their ownership despite them not having paid for the property. According to Julie, this document was crucial in ensuring they had proof of ownership.
There Was More To Their Story
Julie and Eddie’s motivation to rescue the house also stemmed from their belief in repairing and refurbishing rather than discarding. The house was in good condition to them–albeit requiring some tender loving care. Julie, raised on a farm in Lincoln, was instilled with the philosophy that anything can be salvaged with hard work.
Julie explained she was taught not to dispose of things but to restore them, citing that her father, for instance, would not buy a new lamp if it broke but would disassemble and mend it. So, that’s the approach the couple took with their new home.
The Work Begins
Once they became the legal owners of the house, Eddie and Julie wasted no time in getting started on the many repairs the old home needed–beginning with a complete roof replacement. They documented their home renovation progress on their Instagram account and blog, “Nursing Back to Life,” which they launched in July.
One of the first transformations they documented was hiring a local contractor to remove the old roof, which they guessed was somewhere between 15 to 40 years old based on the shingles’ condition.
Reworking The Basement And Porches
At this stage, the goal was not to completely renovate the house but, rather, to prepare it to be moved to a new location. Julie and Eddie prepared the house for transportation by decluttering the basement and dismantling the porches.
With the assistance of their relatives, they removed both the front and back porches. Following the porch demolition, they mended the openings to prevent any bad weather or animals from entering the house before it was relocated.
Much To Discover
As Julie and Eddie continued overhauling the house’s interior, they stumbled upon several fascinating finds. Amid the clutter and dust, they discovered quite an array of items, such as hair clips, old coins, Walmart receipts, and vintage playing cards.
However, the most heartwarming discovery they made was a set of children’s handprints imprinted on a concrete slab left by a family in 1973. They decided to preserve the slab to commemorate the house’s past. If only the discoveries had ended there.
Unfortunately for the Flores family, other, less endearing surprises were in store for them. In a blog post published before the house relocation on January 12, Julie and Eddie candidly shared some rather unsettling discoveries they came across during their renovation efforts.
As they cleared the dining room and removed the wall plaster, they heard squirrels panicking from within. They were chattering and skittering and attempting to flee. But this was far from the worst of what they found.
It Was To Be Expected
Upon opening the walls, Julie and Eddie were horrified that the insulation was infested with cockroaches. Despite this unpleasant discovery, the couple found some solace in the fact that it was a freezing winter day in Kansas, and the cockroaches were cold and moving slowly.
In an interview with Insider, Julie revealed they were mentally prepared to encounter pests and critters in the house due to its prolonged vacancy. They had anticipated finding things like that because the house had been empty for so long.
Meanwhile, On The Other Side Of Town
While the couple was busy working on the house, there was another matter at hand developing across town. After all the preparation to get the house ready to be moved, it needed somewhere to go, of course!
So, a new basement was being dug two miles away on a 3-acre plot of land the couple bought from Julie’s father. This plot was to be the new–and final–place for their free historical home. Once it was ready, the house would be placed gently above it.
They Were Scammed
After the discovery of the cockroach infestation, the couple faced an even greater challenge while building their new basement, though not in the form of a nasty critter. This time they had an issue with someone–not something.
According to Julie and Eddie, the couple hired a local basement company, which made numerous mistakes. Eventually, they decided to end their contract with the company and find a new one. However, the individual took their payment and moved to California, leaving all his bills with his mother. This was the biggest hiccup, in Julie’s opinion.
Moving Day Has Arrived
In January, following months of preparation, the couple was finally ready to relocate the house. Julie and Eddie, along with their family members, had done all they could for the time being. It was now time to leave it up to the professionals. They hired Unruh House Moving for approximately $40,000 to relocate the home.
Then, on the big moving day, while Julie and Eddie were inside the house finishing up packing, they felt a sudden jolt. Was the house being moved while they were still inside?
Their Home Was Hanging In The Balance
Luckily, that was not the case. Instead, the movers were simply beginning the process of readying the house. First, they had to knock down the existing foundation, except for the house’s four corners, to get the moving beams underneath. Afterward, they placed five steel beams beneath the house to lift it onto the back of the truck.
Eddie vividly remembers being awestruck as he watched the process, feeling like their home was hanging in the balance.
Will It Tip Over?
The journey to relocate the house to its new plot of land, which was only two miles away, took around two hours. Throughout most of the trip, Julie and Eddie followed behind and anxiously watched as the movers used hydraulic lifts to navigate over mailboxes and under low-hanging telephone wires.
Although there were moments of fear, they had confidence in the house’s ability to withstand the move, noting that they don’t make houses like that anymore. Ultimately, Eddie described the experience as a “smooth ride,” as the house stayed upright throughout the journey.
House On Parade
It’s certainly not every day a house can be seen riding down the interstate, so it’s not hard to understand why the Flores’ home on wheels drew a crowd. Though the safety of the house and all involved was indeed at the forefront of the couple’s minds, Julie expressed excitement as she reminisced about the impromptu parade that formed along the house’s route.
Undoubtedly, the proud owners couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride and happiness as they watched their home being celebrated in such a unique way.
Never Ending Work
Although the Flores family has successfully relocated their house, Julie and Eddie still face the daunting task of turning it into the forever home they envisioned that very first day. They overcame the struggles with their basement and the nerve-wracking relocation, but their biggest challenge now is finding time to complete the renovations.
This has proved to be a difficult feat, given they are parents to three school-age children and because Eddie’s job as a traveling nurse requires him to be away three days every week.
Where Are They Now?
Currently, the Flores family resides in a home that belongs to Julie’s parents while they work on renovating their house in increments. Despite the challenges, they are committed to juggling their responsibilities and obligations and improving their house bit by bit.
To date, the Flores family has invested approximately $95,000 in their home, which includes the cost of relocating it to its new site, amounting to $40,000. Renovating a house takes substantial investment, time, and effort, but they remain steadfast in their goal.
Home For The Holidays
Even with the work ahead, Julie and Eddie remain optimistic and believe they can have their house ready to move into by Thanksgiving. According to Julie, spending the holidays in their new home would be a dream come true for their family.
While they are undertaking most of the renovations themselves, they have also enlisted the help of a few local companies to handle more technical tasks such as air conditioning and electrical installation.
By working with local companies, Julie and Eddie are making their home a collaborative effort that will contribute to revitalizing their town, which is facing economic challenges due to an aging population and other factors. By supporting local businesses, they hope to create a ripple effect that will help rekindle a sense of pride and community in Lincoln.
Turning their house into a home goes beyond the physical renovations for Julie and Eddie. It is also about making a meaningful contribution to their community that will benefit everyone in the long run.
Putting Their Community First
Julie expressed concern for the well-being of their town; however, she also acknowledged the opportunity that their situation presented and emphasized their commitment to using it to make a positive impact.
Julie and Eddie recognize that by saving their home and using their platform, they can play a small but meaningful role in the ongoing effort to improve Lincoln’s economic and social landscape. They believe that supporting local businesses and helping the community thrive is crucial.