Saturday, October 10, 2015

On the Road Building Homes With Habitat For Humanity

Weeks 1 & 2
Habitat For Humanity's Care-A-Vanner Program Banner Image

I shifted gears this week from playing tourist in the nation's national parks to being a volunteer home builder for Habitat For Humanity. I'm on scene in Mesilla Valley (Las Cruces, NM) for a month helping build two homes. I've joined a group of nine other, experienced Care-A-Vanners and a few locals that are partnered with two future homeowner families to build their first home.

Each week I'll update progress with pictures and notes below about the Care-A-Vanner experience.

Week One

This first week we made quite a bit of progress. Before the official build began I helped the homeowners clean-up the site to make it a safe work zone. The water/sewer lines had already been installed, the slabs had been poured, and the construction trailers with materials and porta-potty were all pre-positioned. This was our starting point.

Day Zero: Two Building Sites Prepped for the the
Care-A-Vanners to Start Building
 "Houses built on owner’s land take about 8 months if built by a contractor and more than 11 months if they are owner-built (i.e., where the owner of the land serves as a general contractor). Single-family homes built for rent take, on average, between 8 and 9 months from permits to completion." ~ NAHB
Discounting the time to get the site to this pristine condition, imagine the pace we are setting for ourselves to have these homes ready in less than two months by a dozen volunteers.

Day One: Exterior walls built

Day Two: 

Exterior walls sheathed, windows cut,
and wall top plates ready for
the next day's roof truss install.

Day Three: 

Walls plumbed, porches built,and trusses installed.

Day Four:

Rafter tails trimmed and fascia boards readied.

Day Five: 

Roof rafters stabilized and all secured with hurricane clips

Day Five Continued:

Interior walls all built and readied for next week's 
roof sheathing.

The weather has been cooperating with temperatures in the 80's. More of the same is expected next week, but by the end of October temperatures will drop into the 70's and 60's. No matter the temperature, Care-A-Vanners keep building.

Week Two

After a well deserved three day weekend (normally only two days) we got back to work on our crew's first two houses on this street.

Day Six: 

All the exterior sheathing, roof decking, and some of the 
roof's drip edging was installed. On the inside of the 
building assorted framing details were completed in 
anticipation of contractors arriving the next day to begin 
their work.

Day Seven:

The windows arrived from the supplier and they
installed carefully to prevent air infiltration.
Soffits previously painted and continuous soffit vents
were installed and cardboard baffles were placed to
allow the free flow of air from these vents above the
insulation that will later be installed in the ceiling.

Day Eight: 

In many builds specialty crafts such as electrical and 
heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) work is 
contracted out to private companies or it is donated by 
area firms. Today the private HVAC crew began the 
"rough-in" of the ductwork and piping.

The role of private contractors varies at each Habitat
build site. At this affiliate, the following crafts are contracted:
Concrete, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, insulation and the
finishing of drywall joints. Code requirements and finances
usually dictate how much work is done by outside contractors.

The HVAC and plumbing contractors completed 
their rough installation of all the ductwork, air registers  
and grills, plus air conditioner plumbing and  electrical 
control cabling, plumbing vent pipes, and exhaust vents.

The concrete slab has drawn on it the locations of all the
walls, studs, doors and windows. These dimensions were all 
transferred to the preservative treated wooden floor plates and 
top wall plates.With these templates workers are then able to 
build assemble all the parts and bolt the wall to the floor.

Day Nine

Roof shingling was started on the left house after the drip
edge was 
installed and most of the volunteers began to erect
house #2's walls.

In this particular two week build this was last day for 
Care-A-Vanners who need to return to their other lives
or travel to a different Habitat build. 

Tomorrow we will be down by six Care-A-Vanners, 
but two replacements will step-up to carry on the work
starting next Tuesday. That means we won't be quite as
productive in the next two weeks, but according to our
site supervisor we are about four days ahead of schedule

Day Ten

On Saturdays at many builds it is common to have
organized groups of volunteers from community

businesses or organizations to come "learn by doing"

in building whatever is needed that day. 

We had a dozen volunteers from First New Mexico Bank 

supplement our Care-A-Vanners this week. They helped
build walls, 
apply sheathing to the now fully erected exterior
walls of 
house #2, and install house #1's roofing underlayment
shingles to get the house dry for interior construction

projects. Care-A-Vanners built the front and back porch 

columns and support beams.

Next week we will complete the walls, roof, and windows
of house #2 and move on to drywalling

If you have any questions about the role Care-A-Vanners 
play in Habitat projects or anything about the construction
process, please ask.

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