Raising The Roof
Ninth Annual Habitat for Humanity Ag Build Coming to Indiana State Fair
Writer / Suzanne Huntzinger
The manpower and the hours it takes to build a home is overwhelming. Now imagine the manpower and hours it will take to build not one but two homes in 14 days. But if anyone can make it happen, Habitat for Humanity Indy can do it, and they will at the 2018 Indiana State Fair, August 3 through August 17.
For more than 30 years now, Habitat for Humanity Indy has been making homeownership dreams come true for deserving Indianapolis families through volunteer and donation services. In 2018, Greater Indy Habitat will build 27 homes in an average of eight to 10 weeks each, bringing the grand total to just over 600 families served in its history.
Just nine years ago, Habitat Indy made the commitment to build a home in fourteen days during the Indiana State Fair. It’s enough to complete one home in 14 days, but since 2015, the organization has pulled off the incredible stunt of finishing two houses in 14 days. The two 2018 homes are the 12th and 13th Ag Build homes since 2010.
Ag build makes Habitat Indy the only chapter in the nation to pull off an entire build in just two weeks, let alone two at once, outpacing another affiliate in Oregon, which completes a partial build of one home. More than 800 volunteers and plenty of quality check support systems will be needed to pull off this herculean effort.
The deserving families who will become homeowners will also put in their own effort before they earn the keys to their homes.
“When the families apply, they have to commit to more than 300 hours of sweat equity to qualify,” says Abri Hochstetler, Associate Director of Communications & Annual Giving.
The sweat equity includes participating in the construction of their home and volunteering in the construction of another home, attending an entire semester of home ownership classes, learning how to complete routine home maintenance tasks (like changing the furnace filter and patching the dryer vent) and complete the Dave Ramsey financial education course.
“These homeowners don’t just walk away with a free house,” Hochstetler says. “These are folks who wouldn’t qualify for a traditional mortgage, so we make it affordable and interest free, but they pay for it. We want to make sure each homeowner is as successful as they can be once they close on their home, so we pair the new owners with a homeowner mentor.”
During the build, the soon to be homeowners get to customize their new homes by putting their personal touches on them.
“They get to choose the interior and exterior colors, door color and other aesthetic finishes,” Hochstetler says. “After they close on the house, they can decorate it as they wish.” Both homes will be 1,200 square feet, three-bedroom, one bath homes. An artist group is making paintings and a wreath to donate to the homeowners.
At the end of the 14 days, Habitat will hold a closing ceremony to dedicate the completion of the construction. At that time, a truck removes each home from its steel beams and moves it from the build site on the northside of the fairgrounds by the big tent to its final location in a neighborhood close by on the near northside.
“Watching this truck move this massive load is truly a sight to behold,” Hochstetler says.”
When the homes arrive at their final destinations, plumbing and electrical are hooked up. The actual closing to finalize the mortgage happens in the fall, and the new homeowners receive their keys.
Fair goers can see the homes being constructed, and after they’re complete, guests will have an opportunity to tour the finished products.
“The build goes on, rain or shine,” Hochstetler says, “Thanks to typical Indiana August weather, we can count on rain, heat and humidity. Everyone works through it all, but it’s all worth it. These are people who need a little leg up, and we can make it happen. Last year, Greater Indy Habitat completed an impact study, and we found that homeownership leads to higher education, kids doing well in school and all-around improvement of quality of life. We’re grateful that these homeowners can experience that positive impact.”
This year, Ag Build is participating in the State Fair’s Wonder Trail hunt for kids. Kids visit various booths along the trail to identify things that are agricultural. Kids can visit the Ag Build and discover things that are agricultural in the homes.
“Doing the Ag Build is a great way to connect with kids,” Hochstetler says. “It’s also a great way for Habitat’s 53 affiliates in Indiana to learn and promote Habitat’s efforts across the state.”
Even though the 2018 Ag Build isn’t Indy Habitat for Humanity’s first rodeo, they need your help. Sponsors Davis Homes, Rooftop Representatives, Wells Fargo, Corteva Agriscience (formerly Dow) and Kroger will offer opportunities for their staff to volunteer at the build. But plenty of other spots remain. Contact Ted Mosey at 317-777-6091 for volunteer opportunities. Visit indyhabitat.org to learn more about the build or to donate.