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September 28, 2013 marked the completion of one of the most ambitious building projects the Cape has seen in years. Known as Blitz Build, the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Cape Cod (HB&RACC), in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod (HHCC), completed the construction of a single-family Orleans residence in less than a week. Aside from excavation and foundation work, the house was constructed in just five days, from the morning of September 23 to Friday, September 27, when a Certificate of Occupancy was issued to the happy new homeowners.
With family ties in Brewster and Eastham that reach back for generations, Heidi and Michael Richards—who have two small children, Michael, 2, and Madison, 1—had faced leaving the Cape and their extended family despite working three jobs. “We were living in a house in Brewster,” Heidi explains. “The rent was outrageous. There were mold issues and we had to move in with my father for a bit.” Struggling to find an affordable rent, the Richards submitted an application just two days before the Blitz Build deadline last March. The family met the application criteria, and in June, they won the subsequent lottery drawing.
The home’s design was created and donated by Charles Orr, AIA, of Hutker Architects in Falmouth. In accordance with Habitat for Humanity directives, the house was designed with energy efficiency and affordability in mind. Built on Bevan Way in Orleans, the house is a contemporary ranch with an open floor plan perfect for an active young family. It features three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a porch along the back of the house, and a yard abutting an attractive wooded area.
Completing the project successfully, and on deadline, required considerable collaboration and contributions from businesses and residents from around the Cape; more than 100 local suppliers, contractors, and individuals were involved.
Why mount such a monumental effort to build one modest, 1,200-square-foot home? Just ask anyone from Habitat Cape Cod. Representatives speak with passion about the desperate need for affordable housing on the Cape and the agency’s desire to bring greater attention to the issue.
“The housing crisis is usually a hidden problem,” explains Vicki Goldsmith, Habitat Cape Cod’s executive director. “Our volunteers interview applicants in their homes; they see first hand the challenges and unhealthy living conditions that many are faced with.” Based in Yarmouthport, HHCC focuses on critical housing needs, such as people living in sub-standard physical conditions, overcrowding, those at risk for homelessness, and other situations where an exceptional percentage of an individual’s, or family’s, income is spent on housing. All too often, Goldsmith says, people are forced to leave the Cape because they simply can’t afford to live here.
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