When we think about how we’re going to build our houses, we think about three main components: durability, affordability, and accessibility.
Durability is what products we’re going to use on the exterior of the house and the wear surfaces on the interior of the house. We also talk about building with what’s considered “Habitat strong construction standards.” This means we add reinforcement in the foundation walls and in the attic — things that aren’t seen but help the longevity of the house.
We look at products that will wear well such as vinyl composite tile and laminate flooring. We also use prefinished James Hardie plank siding and vinyl handrails that won’t need to be painted along with AZEK trim boards. With the use of concrete and bricks, the entire front porch is relatively maintenance-free other than the occasional cleaning.
When we say affordable, we mean energy-efficient. We spend a lot of time thinking about how we make our homes as energy-efficient as possible.
Water heaters installed in our Habitat homes can be used in several different modes; each mode gets more and more energy-efficient. This saves approximately $300 a year over a standard water heater.
We build as much as we can to what’s called a universal design so homes are more accessible. This means that Habitat homeowners can age in place in their homes. If it’s a two-story house, we will make sure there is a bedroom on the first floor. In all of our houses, we lower the light switches so they’re more accessible. We’re thinking about the entire design of the house as if you’re wheelchair-bound when you buy it and if you ever are, it’ll be easier to maneuver around your home. We also use lever-handles on all of the doors so that if you’re ever arthritic or can’t grab and turn a doorknob, you can just push down and your doors open.
We strive to build homes that are durable, accessible, and affordable to be environmentally friendly and more cost-effective for Habitat homeowners to maintain their homes.