Habitat homes finally find their footing

Lucie Gendreau smooths concrete at the Park View Drive construction site. - DEE AXELROD/Staff Photo
Lucie Gendreau smooths concrete at the Park View Drive construction site.
— image credit: DEE AXELROD/Staff Photo

Kathy Duprey kneels by what will be the southwest wall of her new home.

With a stick, she inscribes her children’s names in the fresh concrete that forms the house’s footing, and presses a shell and other small, symbolic objects into the material.

“Every time I come to the site I get a little closer to my home,” Duprey said. “But I try not to jump ahead; I try not to visualize it done. I try to be in the process.”

Duprey’s home – and the house next door being built for another single mother – are slated to be completed around Christmas.

The 1,050-foot, three-bedroom houses are being built by Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County, the program that enlists both volunteers and prospective homeowners to build low-cost residences.

Building materials for the Fort Ward homes are being purchased by a team of dentists and a team of attorneys, while the Hidden Cove site is sponsored by Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church.

The dentists and attorney teams, joined by Chavurat Shir Hayam, a nondenominational Jewish worship group, are building the homes located on adjacent lots on the island’s south end.

The Fort Ward construction crew observe Duprey’s ceremony at a discreet distance.

Just at the moment, there isn’t much else to do.

Site supervisor Dan Nordmark’s prediction that the work pouring the footings would involve both frenetic activity and standing around is proving accurate. Although several of the all-volunteer crew work to frame a small shed, the dentist and attorneys – rounded out by dental staff, dental front office workers and members of Habitat’s North Kitsap construction crew – stand talking in small knots.

It’s the third week of building at the site, begun after several weeks of clearing the land in June.

The two Ford Ward lots, and a third off of Hidden Cove Road, were purchased last winter by Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap for $60,000 each. The purchases were funded by $25,000 per-lot contributions from the Bainbridge Island Housing Trust Fund; $32,000 per-lot grants from Kitsap County Community Development Block Grant Programs; and a single $10,000 grant from Windemere Foundation. The city contributed to the effort by waiving the impact fees.

Solid results

Less than a month into the project, the group members look like seasoned construction workers.

In fact, Duprey’s home is the third house she has helped build. Habitat for Humanity asks prospective homeowners to spend at least 500 hours working on other clients’ homes and their own.

The day’s work is teaching Duprey a new skill, however.

“I came to this with skills – but not cement experience,” Duprey said. “It’s nice to have a chance to learn that.”

Several of the crew are also “repeaters”; Stuart Wakefield, speech therapist for Wolfley Elementary in North Kitsap, has worked on other projects around Kitsap, and the Fort Ward project is Silverdale dentist Tom Curran’s fourth Habitat project.

Nordmark, together with his wife, Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County board member Pat Nordmark, has worked with Habitat since the couple founded a Habitat affiliate in Decatur, Ala.. The couple has spent the past four years finding and financing the Habitat lots on the island.

Volunteer opportunities abound, Nordmark and Hewett say – even for those those less at home with hammer and nails.

“These are ‘user-friendly’ sites,” Pat Nordmark said. “You come, you find out where you’re needed and you start to work.”

Woodward eighth-grader Lucie Gendreau, who works at the site every week and says that she has already learned a lot about building, finds that “the best part is thinking that you’re building a house for someone. It’s cool.”

“We never make mistakes,” Nordmark said, “but we often have the opportunity to make corrections.”

Now that the footings have been poured, the next step in the building process will be framing the walls.

Duprey says she makes a point of thanking every worker at the end of every day of construction.

“Whoever comes, I always thank them, because they might not be able to come back.”

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