06/06/06 — Blitz time crunch

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Blitz time crunch

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 6, 2006 1:49 PM

A group of volunteers is working feverishly to erect a Habitat for Humanity House in Harris Estates by the end of the week.

The Habitat Blitz Build is part of a national drive to put up homes for people in need. Habitat normally is involved in helping people obtain homes, but the blitz is an effort to get a lot of work done in a short period of time.

Work started early Monday at the Stephens Street site, with prefabricated walls going up. Bill Edgerton of the Wayne County chapter of Habitat for Humanity said the volunteers hope to be finished by Friday.

The Wayne County Home Builders Association is sponsoring the blitz home, with all 60 local contractors in the association involved. About 25 trade crews are involved in the acual construction and logistics.

Timing is critical to the success of the project, Edgerton said. Normally, when a house is built, one crew must wait for another to get finished before they can start their job. That is a luxury the project can't afford, Edgerton said.

Co-chairmen for the Habitat Blitz Build are Ken Jones of Ken Jones Construction & Inside Trim and Brian Walker of Walker Construction.

The group got some experience in putting up a house in a hurry following Hurricane Floyd. Volunteers erected a home for a storm victim in three days. Jones and Walker, who were involved in that project, said they expect the Harris Estates home to be done on time.

"This one should be a breeze," Walker said.

Planning for the work is the key to getting the job done, Walker and Jones said. They have planned ahead for unforeseen hold-ups. One occurred over the weekend, when thieves stole $2,000 worth of donated items, including windows and light.

Luckily, Jones said, Goldsboro Builders, which has supplied fixtures for previous Habitat houses, had extra windows and lights on order and they showed up on Monday.

Edgerton said the biggest difference is the six months of advance planning it takes to do the Blitz Build in one week.

"Normally you can take your time and do it over six months," Edgerton said. "There could be four or five different trade crews in there at one time. One comes in and gets out of the way before the next one comes."

After the final inspection Friday, all the volunteers are invited back for a barbecue lunch.

And at 3 p.m. Sunday, Cecilia Menley's new home will be dedicated during a brief ceremony.

Wayne County's unit of Habitat for Humanity is planning to erect six homes this year, Edgerton said. Homeowners qualify for help based on their income levels, ability to make the payments on the home and willingness to work on the construction. This aspect of Habitat home ownership is called "sweat equity."