Frequently Asked Questions

Who Can Qualify for the Program?

  • Must be a first time home buyer (or no mortgage for last 3 years).
  • A single person or a family unit may qualify.
  • Income must not exceed 80% of median income guidelines for the county
    (see income guildine sheet).
  • Must have stable and dependable income.
  • Must have good credit.
  • Must have enough income to pay the monthly mortgage payments, which include property taxes and insurance.

Who Will I Work With and How Much Money Do I Need?

You will work with an approved group of households.  The group elects officers, holds regular meetings and will work together on all of the homes in their group.  A group usually consists of 8-12 households.  The work is done under the supervision of an experienced foreman who shows you and the others how to do each phase of the work.

Remember there is NO Down Payment

You pay cash out of pocket for a credit report, some tools and course-of-construction insurance before construction begins.  You will pay some property taxes during your home construction and closing costs upon completion.

What Will Expenses Be After Moving In? (You are now a homeowner)

You will not make any payments on the loan until thirty days after final inspection of the home or fifteen months from the start of construction, whichever occurs first. After moving in, you will make the following payments:

  • Regular installments on your loan.
  • Utilities, such as:  gas, water, electricity and telephone.
  • Property taxes and insurance.
  • Maintenance and repairs on the home.

What Are The Terms of the Self-Help Mortgage Loans?

The loans are for 33 or 38 years. Loans are based on USDA’s current rate of interest, but subsidies may be provided that can reduce the interest cost depending on the family size and income.  In addition, low interest loans, deferred loans and forgivable loans are part of the financing package available to qualified applicants.

How Long Does It Take To Complete the Homes?

Generally, construction takes 14 to 16 months.  Each phase of construction is completed on each house in the group before going on to the next phase of construction.

What Kind of Homes Are Built?

Conventionally designed, homes are of stick frame construction and vary in size based on each family's needs. From 3 bedroom to 4 bedroom homes, with 1.5 or 2 baths, 2 car garage, they meet all local government codes and comply with USDA/RD lender requirements. No changes are allowed to the house designs.

When Are The Homes Built?

Because most of the family members work during the day, construction time is usually performed on weekends and in the evenings.  Saturday and Sunday work is mandator.  If the family is not willing to give up their weekends and many of their free evenings during the construction of the homes, they should not join a self-help group.

How Many Hours Does Each Family Contribute To The Construction of The Homes In The Group?

About 2,400 total hours of labor per household is required to build a house (35 hours per week).  Hours include the labor of members of the household, including child 16 years of age or over.  Fifty percent of the hours per week may be performed by relatives, friends or volunteers of the Self-Help household.

Do Families Need Construction Skills?

No.  RCHDC provides a construction foreman that will order materials, instruct applicants in construction tasks, and oversee the program.  Each household receives technical assistance and instruction in the various skills required. Licensed contractors do the more technical work such as electrical and plumbing. 

Tasks assigned may include: measure and cut lumber, assemble materials, work with concrete or plumbing, and performance of other construction related duties.

What is needed is the ability to follow instructions and complete tasks as assigned. It is important for the success of a project that households work together as a group.

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