Two houses rising quickly, thanks to Habitat’s Builders Blitz

DOVER — Around 6 a.m. Monday on South Kirkwood Street, two lots sat vacant. Concrete foundations were visible, a sign two houses were about to be built.

Constructing a building is a complicated multi-step process. And yet, just six hours later, the scene was a vastly different one.

Construction on two houses was well underway, as dozens of volunteers swarmed around the buildings and construction vehicles sat nearby.

Walls had been raised, and hardworking citizens were busy carrying lumber supports and crawling over the roofs, tools in hand.

Volunteers with Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity and Lessard Builders construct two homes on South Kirkwood Street Monday around noon. (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

Volunteers with Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity and Lessard Builders construct two homes on South Kirkwood Street Monday around noon. (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

It was all part of Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity’s Builders Blitz week, an effort to construct two homes in just five days.

Around noon Monday, volunteers had put up the walls for one two-story home and had finished the first-floor frame of the adjacent house, with the second floor set to be added in a matter of hours.

Habitat builders plan to finish the construction by Friday, and two families will move into their new dwellings soon after.

This is the first blitz event Central Delaware Habitat has participated in, and so far, things are going swimmingly.

“It’s hard to put it in more words than just awesome,” said Habitat’s development director Chris Cooper.

Other volunteers agreed.

“Coming together is an awesome event for multiple reasons,” said Brian Lessard, owner of Lessard Builders, which is constructing one house.

“One, just us companies, but two, being part of this, the revitalization of downtown. And being in the building industry, we believe in a helping hand, and that’s what Habitat is all about. It’s giving a hand up. It’s not a handout.”

An official groundbreaking took place last week.

Since 2002, the national Habitat for Humanity has constructed more than 1,300 homes. At the same time as Central Delaware Habitat will be building two dwellings, other local groups will be doing the same around the country.

Putting together two houses in one week may be daunting — it normally takes about three to four months to construct a house, one volunteer said — but the mass of supporters is making it possible.

The projects were a major community effort made possible through donations of both supplies and time.

One house is being developed by Habitat’s veritable army of volunteers, consisting of community members, Dover Air Force Base personnel and others, who take shifts while construction goes on from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Lessard Builders is putting together the other house, with about 250 to 300 contractors and other employees giving their time and energy to put together walls, a roof and everything else.

Despite temperatures expected to reach into the 80s this week, hundreds of volunteers are participating.

Shone Lumber provided most of the wood, while D. Gingerich Concrete and Masonry helped with the foundation and Sam Yoder and Son LLC assisted in building the floor and roof trusses. Several stores and restaurants have offered food for volunteers, and other companies are helping out as well.

Once finished, the two houses — 1,375 square feet each — will consist of two floors and a garage.

Latiesha (left) and Natalie Puzzo outside their soon-to-be new residence. (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

Latiesha (left) and Natalie Puzzo outside their soon-to-be new residence. (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

For one fortunate family, the work means “everything.”

Latiesha Puzzo, who will move into one of the homes with her wife, Natalie, and their three children, had trouble finding the right words to describe her feelings.

“I’m really blown away, excited, happy,” she said.

Ms. Puzzo was on site Monday manning the sign-in tent, while not too far away, Natalie Puzzo helped put up walls.

The family heard of Habitat’s program through another recipient, and after applying in February, they learned they would be able to move into a new home.

The other home will be inhabited by Stephen Walker, who was set to arrive on site around midday Monday. Mr. Walker will move in with his three children.

Each house will have a mortgage that must be paid, but Habitat works with applicants to ensure they are financially stable.

For the Puzzos, the new home will give them a chance to have security and comfort.

“To see it all go up in front of me, and then they put the stairs up, I walked in the inside and be able to see before it’s there, where the kitchen’s going to be, it’s just an incredible, incredible feeling, and to see this opportunity that they have given me, I will be grateful the rest of my life,” Latiesha Puzzo said.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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