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Habitat builds first house in Auburndale subdivision

Two-story, 1,200-square-foot home is fifth 'blitz build'

September 17, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
  • The Rev. G. Edward Grove leads those gathered in prayer during the 2010 Blitz Build Home Dedication ceremony Friday at the 29th project of Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle off Boston Street in Martinsburg.
Matthew Umstead, Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- More than 70 sponsors contributed more than $70,000 in materials and labor to build Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle's 29th home in a blitz this week in Martinsburg.

After Friday's dedication ceremony, Habitat for Humanity executive director Ashley K. Laton said builders had the home framed Monday evening after starting the day with only a brick-stamped concrete foundation.

"I just could not stop saying, 'Wow!'," Laton said of the rapid pace of the construction.

The two-story, 1,200-square-foot home along Boston Street and yet-to-be built Humanitarian Way is the first home in Auburndale, a planned subdivision off Randolph Street.

Built in collaboration with Eastern Panhandle Home Builders Association Inc., the project was Habitat for Humanity's fifth "blitz build."

Susan Butcher, who was presented with the keys to the vinyl-sided house at Friday's celebration, said she gained newfound appreciation for home construction after watching contractors work long hours this week, including some who worked in Thursday's rainy weather to get the project done.

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"I tried to stay out of their way, they were so fast ... To tell you the truth, I didn't know what to do," Butcher said.

The 46-year-old mother of four said she cleaned up after the construction crews outside the house, which also will be home for her 21-year-old and 14-year-old daughters, and 3-month-old granddaughter.

"These guys did a wonderful job," said Butcher, who is looking forward to moving out of a small apartment and having a yard in which her grandchildren can play.

Butcher, like all recipients selected by Habitat for Humanity to receive a home, is required to contribute 500 hours of "sweat equity" toward the project.

Helping Butcher meet the requirement were 10 juveniles from the Victor Cullen Center in Frederick County, Md., who donated more than 200 hours of work on the house.

While Thursday's rain slowed completion, project manager Brian Hensell said the home was about 98 percent complete at the 2 p.m. ceremony Friday.

"Weather killed (us) yesterday, and we just didn't have enough hours to make it," Hensell said.

More impressive to Hensell, who chairs the Home Builders Association's community service committee, was the completion of yet another fast-paced project done without a single accident.

"In five years (of blitz builds), as crazy as this is, we have never had an accident," Hensell said. "It's all been done safely, which is a feat itself."

In remarks to those gathered for the ceremony, Hensell said plans for Auburndale include a park, which he said would be named in honor of the late Kevin Robinson, a founding owner and partner of R&L Landscapes Inc.

"On Aug. 28, we lost a member of our team," Hensell said of Robinson's contributions toward Habitat for Humanity projects.

While Habitat for Humanity owns 26 lots in Auburndale, Laton doesn't expect all of them to be projects of the nonprofit, nondenominational Christian organization, but they have made a commitment to make sure they are affordable homes.

Town houses also are part of plans for Auburndale, which is named after the Auburn Wagon Co., which operated nearby in the late 1880s through the 1920s, officials said.

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