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Habitat for Humanity: Blitz Build to commence this month

August 5, 2018

A builder works on a Habitat for Humanity house in Springville.

Habitat for Humanity of Utah Valley, in partnership with EDGEhomes, will begin its annual Home Builders Blitz Build 2018 on Aug. 20, where they will be building two homes with two deserving families in just six days. The homes will be built at 200 S. 400 West in Springville with the Castaneda and Guerra families.

The Utah County affiliate of Habitat for Humanity has been partnering with local builders and doing Blitz Builds since 1993. These Blitz Builds involve building a home in typically less than a week. The Home Builders Blitz Build is a nationwide Habitat for Humanity International event and has resulted in more than 1,850 homes being built, repaired and revitalized.

This will be the fourth Blitz Build that EDGEhomes has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Utah County, and it will also be the first time they will be building two homes during the Blitz.

“I don’t think it will be too different for us compared to building one house,” Nate Maughan, vice president of construction operations at EDGEhomes and one of the site supervisors for the Blitz Build, said. “We get a lot of participation from our team and our subcontractors when we do these builds so there should be no problems.”

Maughan will be in charge of maintaining the schedule and quality of the build.

“We did not want to do anything that would cut any quality of the homes,” he said. “We felt that six days was a timeframe that we could build these houses without losing any quality and still be really quick.”

While these two homes only take six days to be built, the process for the families has gone on much longer. The Castaneda and Guerra families have been preparing with Habitat for Humanity for nearly two years to get ready for home ownership. They take classes to learn everything they need to know about home ownership and home maintenance as well as helping to plan and pick out options for their new homes.

“My favorite part in the process was picking out the house color and kitchen counter tops,” Maria Castaneda said.

“We had a house before, but we didn’t know what to do with it,” Irma Guerra said. “With the classes we took from Habitat, like ‘Getting Ahead’ and ‘Maintenance,’ we realized we were not prepared, but now we know a lot more.”

Both families worked extensively on becoming financially ready to afford their new homes. Habitat for Humanity does not give away homes. Rather, they work with deserving families to get them safe and affordable housing and help them establish habits to help them flourish financially. Families have the opportunity to learn about creating their “future story” and how to be effective community members through their Getting Ahead and Voices in Leadership programs.

“We are doing a lot better economically,” Guerra said. “We were in a routine before and we were used to certain things, but this lesson [Getting Ahead] taught us how to change these habits. Instead of just working, we are working towards goals.”

“I won’t be losing money like when I pay rent,” said Castaneda. “I’ll finally be able to say I’m a home owner and my kids will finally have their own rooms.”

Not only do these families take classes, they have to provide several hundreds of hours of “sweat equity” where they volunteer on their homes or other Habitat build homes. However, these families will not have too much opportunity to work on their homes during the Blitz. EDGEhomes is providing all the workers for the build and will not be relying on any volunteers.

“We can do it faster. It’s what we do every day,” Maughan said, but added that does not mean volunteers are not crucial to completing the Blitz Build. “There are a lot of contributors who work behind the scenes to get everything ready for the build. They take care of finding the lot and getting all the proper permits. Dominion Energy and the city of Springville do a fantastic job as well. Getting power and utilities hooked up to a house is normally a very lengthy process, but they do a great job getting out there and doing inspections when they typically wouldn’t.”

Volunteers also will be providing landscaping kits and decorating rooms in both homes.

Keeping the family away also preserves the surprise on the day that they get to finally step into their new home.

“They don’t let us help build the house. We can see the outside but not the inside; they want it to be a surprise,” Guerra said.

That moment when the family walks into their new home for the first time really captures the essence of Habitat’s mission.

“It is always fun to see their faces as they walk into the home for the first time. You can just see the gratitude and appreciation in their faces and that’s really special,” Maughan said. “I think the entire program they [Habitat for Humanity] have set up is amazing. It lets people get into a home they can call their own and really live the American dream. I appreciate the opportunity to give back to the community. That really is a core value we have here at EDGEhomes.”

While the build itself only takes six days, the impact it has on these families will last a lifetime.

“I’m very excited to begin a new chapter in my life to be able to actually say I have a home for my family,” said Castaneda. “My kids are excited to have a yard to sit and watch the stars at night.”

“We are forever indebted to Habitat for Humanity. It taught us a lot and helped us make decisions that are better for the future,” Guerra said. “Here, we don’t have room for our granddaughters to play, but we will with the house. This has been an answer to our prayers. I am so excited to have a home that our whole family can be together in.”

“We are truly blessed to partner with EDGE homes and all who have volunteered their time, energy, services, and materials to enable this year’s Blitz Build to be accomplished!” said Kena Jo Mathews, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Utah County. “It is always a fun experience to watch the Blitz Build come to fruition. It is like an ant hill has been unleashed. You are there one day and there is no home and the next day there is one. It is crazy!”

Interested community members are encouraged to drive by and see the quick build in progress. They are also invited to attend the kickoff at 8 a.m. on Aug. 20, and the ribbon cutting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 29.

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