Help Build Accessible Home for Maria

I need your help! My partner Maria is paralyzed from the shoulders down as the result of a diving accident. She needs a custom house. As a result of being confined to a power wheelchair, the house must be completely accessible. Some of these items include a roll-in shower, track lift, accessible kitchen counters and desk, remote control lighting, automated doors, etc.

Selling my house in SC barely covered the price of the land here in VT. We looked at buying a house or having one built by a contractor but both options were out of our budget.

The only way I could get a house for Maria was to be my own general contractor and build it. I secured a construction loan with an 8-month term. I planned to sub out the major work and do as much as I could myself. In order to save money, we parked an old RV on the property that I modified so I could do Maria's care in it (she needs care every 4 hours).

I knew we were off to a bad start when the processing of the loan took longer than we expected and the money was not released until the last week of September. Rough weather in the fall turned the property into a mud pit. Excavation took considerably longer than originally estimated and the cost ran almost $10K over budget.

Between mud season, hunting season, holidays and some nasty weather, the framer did not get started in earnest until January. In April, the roof was finally put on the building. The exterior still lacks windows, doors and siding. At this point, the construction ground to a halt.

Walking across the floor, I thought it strange that it had "bounce" to it. Engineering software from the manufacturer of the floor joists and beams showed to my dismay that the main beams, floor joists, door headers and window headers are all undersized and do not meet building code. This is a very serious problem and requires major work.

The framer has already exceeded his labor estimate by $10,000. Any contingency money we had set aside, including money for accessibility items, is now being used to purchase materials to bring the house up to code. With no money left in the framing budget for labor, I am doing the work myself. It is slow going!

This has created a new problem. The construction loan runs up at the the end of May. I have requested an extension which the bank is considering and most likely will grant. However they have given me a strong warning to "get it done".

The original budget was based on me doing much of the work after framing (wiring, plumbing, insulation, drywall, trim, kitchen installation, flooring, bathroom tiling, etc.) Working at my present pace (early morning until long into the night), it has become obvious to me there is no way I will complete the house within the bank's time frame and thus risk losing it to the bank. However, there is not enough money in the budget to hire tradesmen for every task in order to complete the house on time. Hence this appeal for help.

Living in the RV on site since last September has been a story of survival. Water lines have frozen and burst. The furnace and propane system have both failed. Sewage has had to be transferred in containers each week from the RV to the septic system across the yard. Even a simple task like filling the RV's tank with water was made difficult by the extremely cold winter temperatures (hoses had to be thawed and used quickly before they froze again).

The last several months have been hard on Maria. The RV is extremely cramped and affords her little room to maneuver her wheelchair. Her leg was broken in an unfortunate accident in January. She has spent much more time in her chair not wanting to be "helpless" in bed while I am outside working on the house. This has led to multiple pressure sores that cause her a great deal of pain. These in turn have now caused me to take more time from the building process in order to care for her additional health needs.

I am doing my best to get the house completed but I can no longer do it by myself. I DESPERATELY NEED YOUR HELP! Areas of need include: donations of money, building materials and skilled labor

Please share this site with friends or anyone you think may be able to help.

We will continue to document the rest of the project here until the house is complete.

Thanks so much.


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Michael Csele 
Jericho, VT
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