06/11/06 — A house done in one week

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A house done in one week

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 11, 2006 2:06 AM

Cecilia Menley and her son, Bradley, are busy settling into their new house this weekend.

After all, it has been a busy five days -- especially since that is how long it took to build their new home.

The Menleys are homeowners this weekend because of the Wayne County chapter of Habitat for Humanity and the county Home Builders Association.

Their home was special because it was part of the Blitz Build -- a one-week project that turns an empty lot into a house.

"I can't believe this. It's amazing," Ms. Menley said Thursday afternoon while the landscapers were finishing up the yard, and a crew attached shingles. Painters walked out the door with their paint cans, calling it a day.

Ms. Menley said she still can't believe her luck. She had just learned she was approved for a new house, when she learned hers would be a Blitz Build project. Normally, Habitat for Humanity families must wait six months before their new houses are finished.

Ms. Menley said she expected to have the same experience.

So, when volunteer coordinator Katie Huston called, she said she was surprised.

"All I could say was thank you, Jesus," Ms. Menley said.

And the news couldn't have come at a better time for Ms. Menley or for Bradley.

For years, the family has not had a bathroom big enough to accommodate Bradley, who developed cerebral palsy when he was 18 months old. When he was a boy, Ms. Menley could carry him to the bathroom. Now, Bradley is almost 23, and a student at Wayne Community College. He uses a motorized wheelchair to get around. Carrying him is not an option anymore.

The new house will give him the freedom to move about on his own, the Menleys said.

Ms. Menley and Bradley will be living in the new home that will cost $50,000. A similar house on the open market could cost up to $90,000. The 20-year mortgage payments will be about $350, which includes insurance, taxes and termite inspections. Payments on a conventional loan for 20 years would be $800 or more.

"I qualified for a conventional loan, but I couldn't afford the $800," Ms. Menley said. "I could not sleep at night knowing I had that house payment."

After the finishing touches Friday, the house was ready.

Under normal circumstances, work crews are used to being spread out so each has time with a house before another crew arrives.

But they didn't have that luxury this time, said Habitat construction supervisor Bill Edgerton.

He called the site of so many different construction crews at work at once "amazing" and said they seemed to be working "on top of each other."

Even rain during part of the week did not stop the progress. Edgerton said the volunteers maintained a cheerful attitude throughout.

"It's been fun," he said.

The Wayne County Home Builders Association spearheaded the project, contributing everything from materials to labor, and gathering together subcontractors and suppliers to get the materials and labor necesssary for the effort.