Owning a dream house is a lifelong aspiration for many. It represents a sanctuary where we find comfort and solace and symbolizes our hard work and achievements.
But how would you feel if you got your dream house without spending a single penny?
Getting your dream house for free is a remarkable and life-changing event. The overwhelming gratitude, awe, uncontainable joy, empowerment, and graciousness accompanying this extraordinary gift create a kaleidoscope of emotions that is hard to put into words.
A couple from Kansas recently found themselves in possession of a remarkable treasure—an old Dutch colonial house in Lincoln.
Julie and Eddie Flores have always held a deep affection for older homes. Little did they know that their affinity would lead them to the most extraordinary opportunity—owning one for no cost.
In January 2022, the couple happily settled in Kansas City with their three children and had no intention of uprooting their lives.
However, everything changed when they visited Julie’s hometown of Lincoln, Kansas.
During their visit, Julie’s parents insisted they explore a local home that had long remained abandoned and neglected.
At first glance, the exterior of the 2,023-square-foot, three-bedroom Dutch colonial house appeared far from impressive.
Years of neglect had taken their toll, leaving the porch in disarray, the lime-green paint peeling, and even squirrels finding their way in and out through a hole in the roof.
But the couple’s perspective shifted dramatically when they stepped inside.
Originally constructed in 1910, the Dutch colonial house held a wealth of hidden treasures that Eddie and Julie discovered as they delved deeper.
Beneath the carpets, they unearthed stunning hardwood floors that added a touch of timeless beauty. However, the staircase truly stole their hearts and ignited their imaginations.
“It had good bones,” Eddie said. “It’s kind of hard to describe, but the minute we walked into the house, it was more of like, ‘Wow, this could be our forever home.’”
They could vividly imagine a future filled with cherished memories for their children, Lily, Drey, and Sophie, all thriving within the walls of this enchanting Dutch colonial house.
Even though they were content in Kansas City and had no intention of leaving, the house kept pulling them back.
It exerted an irresistible magnetism that tugged at their hearts, painting vivid pictures of a future shared with their children, Lily, Drey, and Sophie, within its walls.
They repeatedly returned to the property, and Eddie couldn’t deny the enchantment and shared how his wife, Julie, would often say, “Can’t you just imagine our daughter descending that staircase in her prom dress?”
As fate would have it, Eddie and Julie soon learned of a potential threat looming over the house they had fallen in love with.
If a new owner couldn’t be found within a year, the house could be torn down.
The land on which it stood belonged to the Lincoln County Hospital & Healthcare Foundation (LCHHF), which intended to repurpose it for its own needs.
However, before taking such drastic measures, the LCHHF extended an opportunity to the Lincoln Economic Development Foundation (LCEDF) to find a new owner for the house within a year.
To sweeten the deal, the house would be given away free of charge, serving as an incentive for prospective buyers.
News of the “free house” spread like wildfire in February 2022, thanks to the efforts of Kelly Gourley, the director of the LCEDF, who harnessed the power of social media to generate widespread awareness.
While the Dutch colonial house came with no price tag, there was a significant requirement: the new owner had to agree to relocate the entire structure to another part of Lincoln.
This condition aimed to ensure the preservation of the historic house while giving it a new lease on life.
The overwhelming response to the listing prompted the formation of a local committee tasked with the challenging responsibility of narrowing down the pool of applicants.
Eddie and Julie revealed that the committee established specific criteria for their selection process.
Firstly, the new owner had to commit to keeping the house within Lincoln, recognizing its significance as a historical gem for the community.
The house boasts a century-old legacy and once belonged to W.J. Grubbs, one of the town’s original mayors—a testament to its deep roots in Lincoln’s history.
Secondly, the committee sought a buyer who intended to make the house their home.
“They wanted a family to actually move in,” Eddie said. “They just didn’t want somebody to come in and flip it and make money off it.”
Julie and Eddie couldn’t resist the allure of the house that had captured their hearts. They simply couldn’t imagine a life without it, prompting them to throw their hat in the ring and apply to become the fortunate owners.
Their dreams became a driving force as they envisioned the incredible life they could build within those walls. The thought of creating lasting memories and a warm, loving home for their family motivated them to take a chance and pursue ownership.
Months later, their hopes materialized when their bid was chosen to be accepted. To formalize the transaction, Julie and Eddie sought the assistance of lawyers who crafted a “bill of sale.”
This important document solidified their house ownership, despite no financial exchange.
Julie reflected on the significance of this legal record, emphasizing that it served as tangible proof that they were the rightful owners of the Dutch colonial house they cherished so deeply, even if they got it for free.
Julie and Eddie’s decision to save the house stemmed from their strong belief in the value of fixing things rather than discarding them.
Julie expressed her perspective, emphasizing that in their eyes, the house was perfectly good; it just needed a little tender loving care to bring it back to its former glory.
Julie’s upbringing on a farm in Lincoln played a significant role in shaping her mindset. She was instilled with the belief that everything can be salvaged and revived with enough dedication and effort.
Growing up in a culture where nothing was simply thrown away, she was taught the importance of repairing and refurbishing items rather than replacing them.
With the keys to their dream house, Eddie and Julie wasted no time diving into the renovation process.
They enthusiastically approached their new home and determined to bring it back to its former glory.
In July, they took to social media platforms like Instagram and their blog, aptly named “Nursing Back to Life,” to share their captivating home renovation journey with their followers.
It became a platform to document their progress, inspire others, and showcase the transformation.
One of their initial and noteworthy undertakings was the replacement of the entire roof. Recognizing that the old roof had seen better days, they enlisted the services of a local company to remove the worn-out shingles.
After clearing out the basement, Eddie and Julie, with the help of their family, proceeded to remove the front and back porches.
They carefully dismantled the porches, ensuring they were fully prepared for the impending relocation of the entire house.
After that, Eddie and Julie focused on patching up the open areas. They aimed to prevent rain or animals from entering the house before it was moved.
By sealing and securing these vulnerable spots, they took necessary precautions to protect the structure during relocation.
Gutting the home was an adventure for Julie and Eddie as they stumbled upon a treasure trove of intriguing items.
They found something special among the dusty old playing cards, hair clips, coins, and Walmart receipts—a set of children’s handprints imprinted on a concrete slab that once served as the garage floor.
These handprints were left behind by a family living in the Dutch colonial house in 1973.
Recognizing the sentimental value of this discovery, Julie and Eddie decided to preserve this piece of history.
“We just wanted to kind of bring the history and the feel that the house did have with us to the new spot,” Julie said.
In a candid blog post dated January 12, Julie and Eddie shared their experiences of gutting the dining room and removing the plaster from the walls before the house move.
As they worked, they were startled by the sound of squirrels frantically trying to find a way to escape. Although the squirrels initially caused some concern, it turned out to be a minor issue compared to what awaited them.
Upon tearing open the walls, Julie and Eddie were confronted with an unpleasant surprise: cockroaches infested insulation.
They described the distressing sight but found some solace in the fact that the cold winter temperatures considerably slowed the insects’ movements.
Speaking to Insider, Julie acknowledged they were mentally prepared to encounter animals and pests during the renovation process.
Given that the house had been vacant for an extended period, they had anticipated such challenges.
As Eddie and Julie focused on renovating their house, a separate project was underway two miles away.
They had purchased a 3-acre plot of land from Julie’s father to build a new basement.
However, this endeavor proved to be one of their most significant challenges.
Initially, they enlisted the services of a local basement company, but their experience with this individual turned out to be highly problematic.
The couple found that the company made numerous mistakes and did not meet their expectations. Eventually, they decided to sever ties with the company and seek an alternative solution.
After months of extensive preparation, the long-awaited day arrived for Eddie and Julie—the day their house would be moved to its new location.
They entrusted the task to Unruh House Moving, a company they hired for approximately $40,000.
Eddie and Julie found themselves inside the house as the move commenced, making final preparations and securing various items. Suddenly, they felt a distinct shudder throughout the house—a tangible reminder of the monumental task.
The moving crew had to remove a significant portion of the existing foundation, leaving only four corners intact. This allowed them to carefully position five steel beams beneath the house, providing the necessary support to lift it onto the back of the truck.
The process of relocating their home to a new plot of land situated just two miles away proved to be a lengthy endeavor, taking approximately two hours due to the cautious and deliberate pace required for safety, as explained by the homeowners.
Throughout the journey, Julie and Eddie anxiously followed behind their house, attentively observing as the movers skillfully maneuvered it using hydraulic lifts, navigating past mailboxes and maneuvering under low-hanging telephone wires.
Despite moments of trepidation, Julie expressed confidence in the structural integrity of their home, stating that it was built to withstand such a move.
“They don’t make houses like that anymore,” she added, acknowledging the sturdy construction of their residence.
Eddie reflected on the experience, describing it as a “smooth ride,” with the Dutch colonial house remaining upright throughout the journey.
“Our house was on a parade,” Julie said. “There were people all along the route and everything. It was so fun.”
Following the challenges encountered with their basement and the nerve-wracking relocation of their house, the Flores family now grapples with the significant task of finding time to complete the remaining renovations.
This endeavor proves particularly demanding as they navigate the responsibilities of raising three children and Eddie’s demanding job as a traveling nurse, which often requires him to be away for three days each week.
Residing in a house owned by Julie’s parents, they strive to allocate time to visit their homes to gradually renovate them.
Thus far, they have invested approximately $95,000 in their home, which includes the $40,000 expense associated with relocating it to its new location.
Despite the ongoing renovations, Julie and Eddie have set their sights on completing their home in time to move in by Thanksgiving.
“We really want to be able to spend the holidays in it this coming year,” Julie said.
While the couple undertakes most of the renovation work themselves, they have also engaged the services of local companies for specific tasks such as air conditioning and electrical installations.
This decision to collaborate with local businesses stems from their desire to make their home a community project, rekindling a sense of pride in Lincoln.
They recognize the economic challenges faced by their town, including an aging population and a lack of innovation, and wish to contribute to its revitalization.
Julie and Eddie think they can do their share to save Lincoln if they can save their home.
“We’re trying to stick to our motto of really helping our town grow and giving the people who already live here some business,” Julie said.