In partnership with homeowners and volunteers, we strive to build affordable housing for people in need in the most cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally responsible way. In service to more than 400 families that formerly lived in substandard housing, Habitat Saint Louis has worked alongside donors and volunteers to bring nearly $60 million in affordable housing development to the metro area.
For over 30 years, we have partnered with dozens of local neighborhoods to create quality housing, gaining recognition as a regional and national leader in sustainable building practices and design along the way. Our work has and continues to have lasting benefits for both Habitat home buyers and the neighborhoods that host them by encouraging stability, increasing the tax base and consumer spending, and fostering civic engagement.
Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis builds homes that are attractive, safe, affordable and sustainable. Volunteer labor is used throughout the build process, from the design phase to the dedication of the house. Each home varies in size and style and is designed to both meet the needs of our partner families and respect and complement the architectural integrity of the existing communities.
A typical Habitat home is in the range of 1,200 to 1,500 square feet and features three to four bedrooms and one to two bathrooms. In most cases, our homes also have a full, unfinished basement and either a driveway or parking pad. From 2008 – 2016 all new homes were built to LEED platinum standards. In 2017, we began participating in the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home National Program, which combines the standards of ENERGY STAR Homes with proven Building America innovations and best practices. These homes are verified by a qualified third-party and are 40%-50% more energy-efficient than a typical new home.
Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis uses volunteer labor throughout the build process, from the design phase to the dedication of the house. Using volunteer labor creates many opportunities and challenges, and is never an exact science. Since there are different volunteers with different skills and abilities from one day to the next, the tasks we ask our volunteers to tackle must be volunteer-friendly and well-thought-out during the design process.
Once a house design is created, the details and the building processes are determined so that our weekday volunteers can be put into action in our warehouse pre-building walls and other components needed for the build.
After our foundations have been installed, our weekday volunteer crews complete all tasks necessary to have the house ready for the start of the build: they install the subfloors, snap chalk lines, pre-build gable ends, etc.
We typically start each build phase with a “Blitz,” a consecutive number of construction workdays to get the house to a certain point – usually under roof. Blitzing at the start of the build helps us to shorten the exposure of construction materials to the elements, therefore protecting us from loss of materials due to deterioration.
During the Blitz, volunteer leadership (house leaders, crew leaders, and site safety observers) come together with other volunteers to put up the home’s walls, install the building envelope-blue board, wrap the house, place roof trusses, sheath roof, install doors and windows, and begin siding – all to get the house to the point that it is “under roof” and ready for the roofers to shingle.
Volunteers continue to work on the house following the build schedule to complete the interior finishes, painting, flooring, and landscaping.