Is this more of the '2 nations divided by a common language'? To
me they just said Carter built the whole damn thing hisself-- then
they say there were 10000 volunteers.
Here's another story on it from June 2007.
1. Friggin' Florida. Does this sound a bit political;
"April Charney, a lawyer representing many of the 85 homeowners in
Fairway Oaks, said she had no problems taking on Habitat for Humanity,
despite its status as a 'darling of liberal social activists.' "
2. Diennal Fields sums it up nicely-
"Some residents dismiss their neighbours worries. Diennal Fields, 51,
said people did not know how to look after their homes: Its simple
stuff: if there is mildew, dont get a lawyer, get a bottle of
3. To round some numbers off-- 100 homes built 8 yrs ago have 100
complaints brought to the builder & a couple were unresolvable. Is
that a bad record? [I don't know- I've never gotten involved in
For the rest of the folks they are living in $90K houses with a
mortgage/insurance 'burden' of $300/month.
That sounds like a success to me.
People are involved so it ain't perfect. But it sure beats any
government program I can think of.
When my wife was building houses they had two "habitat" homes the
national builder was sponsoring. The typical procedure was to have a
weekend with volunteers in there on TV, then most of the next week was
taken up by pro's fixing or simply ripping out and replacing all the
volunteer work. The real inspections took place after that (even if
they did have an inspector on TV talking about how great a job
"habitat" was doing).
Most of the value of the habitat program is in the amount of
professional labor and the materials that get donated. The volunteer
input is largely just for publicity. In a union state you will need a
paid journeyman shadowing every volunteer anyway.
As a crew chief for Habitat in my area, I see a good bit of work that
has to be redone. Our motto is, "We do it right the last time."
I'm supposed to train and supervise several groups of volunteers at the
job site. For example, I'll get some kids started painting siding on
racks in the back yard, a few people putting up siding, and some more
installing sub-fascia. My job is to constantly inspect their work to
make sure it's done right. If it's wrong, it's my fault, not the
On my last house, a crew of men was putting up Hardi lap siding. They
had been told to leave no more than 1/8" gap at the ends. When I
checked, the first two rows looked OK, but I made them re-do the third,
because it had too big a gap on one end. When I came back again, I was
amazed how quickly they finished the wall. Then I figured out they were
fast because, though the right end looked great, the left end had gaps
I could put my thumb in. They had to tear it all off and do it over.
We do it right the last time.
Brother Jimmy is a better carpenter than he was a president, and was
fine at hammering nails. (And now in his dotage, he probably can't even
do that any more.) But while trained as an engineer, it wasn't in civil
engineering- if the people that set up the project were stupid enough to
put it on poorly drained uncompacted fill land, well, problems are
inevitable. You can't build in a swamp. (I have firsthand experience
with that, owning a house in Louisiana. Even on high ground, the climate
rots everything.) And pretty much everywhere in the far southland, bugs
and termites are everywhere.
But yes, the HforH houses are low-end at best, and even supervised
amateurs do make more mistakes than 'real' carpenters. But even a
low-end house can be made to last, as long as it is on solid ground, and
properly maintained. Part of the HforH process is that the recipients
have to put in sweat equity, on their own and other houses. Supposedly,
this also gives them the skill set to do basic upkeep down the road. Sad
to hear it didn't work out in this case. The HforH houses around here
seem to be doing okay, with few public complaints, and a very low
I do agree with the others- I'd also be wary of a speed-record blitz
house. QC is an important part of the build process, and doing rework is
pretty hard if 3 more layers of building materials are covering the work.
There's probably some truth both ways?
Houses built fast and probably fairly cheaply and by volunteers who
are willing don't always know what they are doing! But under Habitat
for Humanity people who otherwise would 'never' own a house; even a
run down older one get a new home.
But they may be occupied by people who either and/or don't have the
income or the common know- how or incentive to look after their own
house. We have had examples here of identical and good quality housing
just a few units apart in same residential area being in opposite
For example unit A. Occupied by a widow lady, low income is
immaculate, it's dry, not dusty and everything inside is well cared
for. There is very little maintenance required; besides the widow
there is one daughter who works part time and also attends school and
AFIK a son. Three people. Residence was 'nice' there were a few
flowering plants growing etc.
Unit B. just down the street is a different matter. An identical unit.
The siding and outside wall adjacent to their kitchen had rotted out.
Apparently due to water spillage and not using the exhaust fan while
cooking. The front door had been damaged and didn't fit correctly and
so on. The whole place was damp! There was extensive minor damage to
walls, door handles bathroom fixtures etc. Clothes were being dried in
basement area without ventilation. Place was a mess, tin cans parts of
a car out front etc. basically all the makings of a slum. Same number
of occupants one of whom was 'said' to drink a bit?
And these people unlike the rest of us don't even have to fix stuff
themselves! Some are low income, some on 'welfare' or disability etc.
A report, initially critical of the authority responsible, concluded
that it was 'Life style' that caused the problems reported in the
press. For example: If the people in unit B didn't have the gumption
to run a fan or open a window for ventilation while boiling stuff on
the stove for hours .................. !
So while the comment does sound very political and critical; "Oh look
at those do-gooders; falling down on the job and possibly not allowing
unionised workers (or cheap migrant workers?) a chance to
work ................ etc. ". and there may be grain of truth in
poorly and quickly built problems; let's be more generous.
Since 1960 we've persoanlly built homes twice without mortgages and it
takes time, effort, sweat equity, living without certain things, at
least for a while, making mistakes (Wish I'd done it that way. Oh
well!), fixing some mistakes, but overall providing your family with a
safe and comfortable home. Family grown up and gone now; but what a
sense of achievement!
'Be it ever so humble and so forth ...... ".all the best to everyone
for 2009. Could be a difficult year or two; so live careful and
I would think the residents are culpable too. Maybe HFH has the
deepest pockets, but if your motis operandi is to have the home owners
contribute sweat equity, then those homeowners must also share in the
liability of shoddy construction. Insulating the homeowners from all
liability is not right, mildew, roaches and skin rashes can easily be
due to poor maintenance as well as construction. I've volunteered for
two HFH projects, not to feel good, but simply because my employer
solicited volunteers and I like to build stuff while drinking a beer
in the sun. Personally I feel my yearly contribution to United Way
did more than those weekends and cost me much less. The projects were
managed well enough, but the women being housed didn't have a clue
about home ownership and the responsibilities involved down the road,
having lived in public housing. The houses were very bland vinyl-
sided frame units not much stronger than if you parked a row of double-
wide mobile homes there. That community today is deteriorating, sadly
due more to the lack of responsible men than shoddy construction.
Most of these homes IF they actually have problems, is most likely cause by
lack of proper maintenance. These type homes are given or sold at a low
price to lo-life type people who think it's a maintenance free palace. They
never do anything to prevent the alledged problems they are now reporting.
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