A Place To Call Home
Atlas Teams With Habitat For Humanity In Orlando Blitz BuildG.K. Sharman, Writer
New homeowner Elaine (Marguerita) Brissett couldn’t contain her excitement.
“I guess the refrigerator goes here,” she said, indicating an open space in her almost-completed kitchen. Then she grinned and posed for quick photos with the Bible and hammer that Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando gives to all of its new homeowners.
Then she took off down the hall, leading her impromptu tour group into the bedrooms.
“Here’s where the bed will go,” she said, spreading out her arms. “And over here is the dresser. And here” — she was already bouncing into the closet in the second bedroom — “is the storage. I need this for my pocketbooks.”
Building In A Blitz — And A Tropical Storm
Brissett’s home was one of nine constructed during the 2016 Builders Blitz organized by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando. Eight builders and dozens of subcontractors donated time and services, outlasting the wind, rain and mud of Tropical Storm Colin to put up nine homes from slab to shingles in just five days. City building inspectors were on hand throughout the build to make sure the process stayed on track — as much as possible with the weather delays.
Colin’s visit early in the week complicated the construction schedules but couldn’t derail the mission to provide affordable homes, foster community and improve people’s quality of life.
Park Square Homes, a production builder in luxury communities across Central Florida, constructed two homes, including Brissett’s. The houses face each other across a wide green median on Inspiration Way in Butler’s Preserve in Orlando, FL. The community, designed by Habitat, is named for Mable Butler, a former Orange County commissioner and longtime advocate for affordable housing. Work started in 2014. Now the neighborhood includes 51 single-family homes and four duplex units, all of which are Florida Green Building Coalition certified.
For both three-bedroom, two-bath homes, Park Square installed Atlas Pinnacle® Pristine Pearl high-performance architectural shingles featuring Scotchgard™ Protector, Gorilla Guard® 30 engineered underlayment, Pro-Cut® Hip and Ridge shingles and Pro-Cut Starter shingles. The homes are 1,306 square feet, including interior space, storage, a covered porch and a covered side entry.
“Habitat specified this product because it offered the light/white-colored roof in support of energy conservation,” said Lisa Hall, Park Square’s director of purchasing. “The Pristine Pearl is a light color that helps reflect the sun, thus reducing the amount of energy needed for HVAC.”
Total Atlas products used on the two homes included 59 bundles of field shingles and 11 squares of hip and ridge and starter shingles, as well as five rolls of underlayment. Crews were able to roof the houses in a couple of hours each.
PetersenDean was the roofing contractor for Brissett’s home. Professional Sunshine Roofing installed the shingles on the home of her neighbor, Jennifer Samuels-White.
Brissett’s home was the last one in the project to be shingled because Colin kept crews off the roof for two days.
A New Home, A New Beginning
On a Saturday morning, about a week after work began — under skies that were finally sunny — Brissett, Samuels-White and seven others received the keys to their new homes. Wiping away tears, recipients told stories of living in substandard houses, hotels or even their cars, dreaming of a home to call their own. Many stood surrounded by their families, thanking God, Habitat and the builders for the opportunity to become homeowners.
"Habitat Greater Orlando is blessed to have so many hard-working professional builders and their subcontractors who offered their valued services to such a remarkable cause," said Catherine Steck McManus, president and CEO of Habitat Greater Orlando. “Together, we were able to provide nine Habitat homeowners the self-reliance they need through the purchase of an affordable home.”
A common misconception is that Habitat donates or gives away homes. Habitat builds homes for those in need and sells them to what the organization terms “homeowner partners.” Habitat’s no-profit, no-interest loans combined with volunteer or donated labor and materials help make the mortgages affordable for people who would not be able to obtain conventional financing.
Qualifying for a Habitat house also requires commitment on the part of the homeowners. In addition to meeting eligibility requirements, potential owners must complete a series of homeownership classes that cover everything from budgeting to minor home maintenance. Then they have to put in sweat equity — 300 hours for a single homeowner, 500 hours for dual heads of households — by volunteering on a build or in one of the Habitat ReStore locations.
For Brissett and her neighbors, the dream of a safe, affordable place to live is finally real, thanks to the contractors who donated their time and companies like Atlas Roofing that donated materials.