dream home in the making

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Three years after buying her dream home and weathering an incident where it “rained in the living room,” Martina LeClerc realized she needed help.

I knew it was mine before I even walked in the house,” Martina says of her 1900 farmhouse in Fairfield, but the necessary renovations have been extensive.

Martina is admittedly a “carpenter’s daughter” who put her own sweat equity in with help from her brother, a contractor in Colchester. Their updates have included adding insulation, replacing the plumbing and piping, sanding and refinishing the floors as well as cosmetic fixes like paint and stain.

In the spring of 2014, however, it became obvious that the roof needed to be replaced – an issue that could render all of their hard work inside moot. She says that while many of the home improvement projects have been things she felt she could tackle, the time and expense of a new roof left her searching for options. At first she had expected the work to cost $10,000, but it turned out to be more than $20,000.

Martina works seven days a week as a cleaner, and volunteers with animal rescue in her spare time. “I work so much,” she says, but she still finds that it’s hard to make ends meet.

She was on her way to a meeting at the bank to talk about extending her mortgage when she happened to hear about the Champlain Housing Trust’s home loan program, so she swung by the office to pick up the paperwork on the way.

She decided to work with CHT, where she found that the loan application process was easy to navigate and staff were helpful and professional, answering all of her questions.

“I was struggling a bit because I didn’t know how I was gonna do it,” Martina says. “When I got the [CHT loan approval] letter, I actually cried.”

First she called CHT to confirm the good news, then called her mother. Martina was approved for both a CHT loan to replace the roof as well as being awarded a grant through NeighborWorks® America and Wells Fargo’s “Safe and Sound” initiative.

The roof work wrapped up on time despite a rainy June, and Martina can now enjoy the security of knowing that the roof over her head is solid and won’t leak. She feels a sense of pride in her home, and looks forward to the next improvement project. Now that the roof is done, she feels like the other fixes are ones she can handle.

“When I first moved in, I was petrified,” she explains. “Now, I wouldn’t change it for the world. … I plan on dying in that house.”