A simpler home: lessons learned from Habitat for Humanity

January 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

Our house was this color when completed – without the porch

I worked on my first Habitat for Humanity build in November.  I actually got to work on two houses — the one being newly built and another a mile away that was built 12 years ago and has been bought back by Habitat because the owner could no longer pay the mortgage.

I learned a lot on this build about Habitat homes:

  • Habitat owners are not given a “free” home (which is what I thought).  They have to be low-income, but have enough income and savings to qualify for the loan.  They have a mortgage just like I do.
  • Habitat houses have grown to meet the US demand — 12 years ago the standard home was smaller and only had one full bath.  Today, the house is about 200 sq ft larger with two full baths.

And about myself:

  • I could SO live in that house.  The simple Craftsman-style home (that we painted Wedgewood blue with bright white trim!) was just the right size for two or three people and with a few tweaks would fill my requirements with ease.
  • The older I get, the more I appreciate simplicity … the straight lines of the Craftsman style allowed for easy trim painting (imagine a Victorian?!) and the low profile made all of the work doable with just a standard ladder.
  • The beauty I find in houses these days is as often from the care taken and the flowers planted than from the home design itself.  Though I LOVE houses of virtually all types, the ones I’m most drawn to are well-situated small cottage-like houses with flowers and picket fences.  I could see this house in loving hands becoming just that.

Lao Tzu said, “In dwelling, live close to the ground.”  I can see where he was coming from.


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