Friday, June 25, 2010

Tired of Tyvek

I can walk on scaffolding three stories high. I can use a heavy duty staple gun safely. I can add wrapping a duplex in Tyvek to my resume.

What an amazing experience! I have long wanted to do Habitat for Humanity. And this week I got to! There were about 50 volunteers at Kinsell Commons near the Oakland Airport; some of us installed windows, some of us wrapped exteriors in Tyvek, some of us built interior walls.

Kinsell Commons is an interesting place. It's a LEED Neighborhood Pilot Development Project with 14 homes built around a common area. There are solar panels on the roofs. Eighty percent of the building waste is recyclable. I had no idea how much waste there was in building until I was on an active construction site. And these are really cute homes -- places you and I would want to live in except for the industrial, in-transition neighborhood with the adjacent train tracks.

Habitat for Humanity East Bay is a fabulous organization. These houses are provided to qualifying low-income families with a 30-year, interest-free mortgage. The homeowners are required to put in sweat equity by spending 500 hours volunteering with Habitat. They also take classes to learn how to take care of their homes.

The only paid tradespeople in the construction of these homes are the electricians and the plumbers. Everything else is done by volunteers. How would you feel about living in a house constructed by volunteer Joe, Dick and Harrys? Before I did this I wouldn't have felt so safe in there. But after seeing the training they gave us and the care every volunteer put in to doing their individual task, I'd say I'd be happy to. As Dave pointed out, these homes still have to pass code, regardless of who hammered in the nails.

And about those scaffolds. It was nerve-wracking to get up on those. I hung on to the rail for the first hour and took teeny tiny steps on the planks. Slowly I got used to it. Do you have any idea how dirty construction sites are? I knew it would be dirty but I had no idea that I'd be covered head to toe in dust and dirt at the end of the day.

I was so exhausted after my day of volunteering that I was asleep by 9pm and slept 9 hours straight. I can't wait to do this again.

P/S to Jamba Juice corporate volunteers. Where was the Jamba Juice?!

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