New Habitat house to provide quality home for local family

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Habitat Construction Manager John Matukewicz, left, and volunteer Ed Larson work on the new Habitat house being built at 301 Mountain St. in Cassville. The energy-efficient home, which is expected to be completed in September, is 1,056 square feet and has three bedrooms and one-and-a-half baths. Julia Kilmer reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Home on Mountain Street scheduled to be completed in September

Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity is a global, nonprofit housing organization operating on Christian principles which seeks to eliminate substandard housing by constructing and renovating homes to give deserving families decent, affordable places to live.

The organization also helps advocate for fair housing policies and provides resources to improve shelter conditions for families.

Habitat Construction Manager John Matukewicz, left, and volunteer Ed Larson discuss what needs to be done next at the new Habitat house, which is under construction at 301 Mountain St. in Cassville. Julia Kilmer reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Thanks to donations of supplies, time and labor from several companies and individuals, a Cassville family will soon have a home of their own. The home, which is currently under construction at 301 Mountain St., will allow the family to have an affordable, interest-free mortgage.

The anticipated completion date is September.

John and Jeannie Matukewicz volunteer their time and skills for Habitat. John works as a construction manager and Jeannie obtains donations.

"We're looking at the first of September if things go well," John Matukewicz said. "We're putting the flooring in, and we have interior doors and trim to put up, and Thursday, they're going to put the yard in."

In addition to completing all the necessary paperwork, the homeowner is required to put in 300 hours of work toward the construction and preparation of the home.

Ed Larson, left, Habitat for Humanity volunteer, and Habitat Construction Manager John Matukewicz lay laminate flooring in one of the bedrooms of the new Habitat house currently under construction at 301 Mountain St. in Cassville. The room is painted pink for one of the children who will live there. Julia Kilmer reporter@cassville-democrat.com

"They have to do 150 hours themselves, and 150 hours from friends and family, so there's some sweat equity," Matukewicz said. "This is my second Habitat home. I think there's been four or five others in Cassville."

"Prospective homeowners have to attend six homeowner workshops, including financial and home maintenance training," Jeannie Matukewicz said.

Volunteer Ed Larson, who is a friend of the family in the process of qualifying for the home, has already put in over 80 hours, which qualifies toward the 150 hours that must be donated from friends or 
family members.

"It's 1,056 square feet and a three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath home," Matukewicz said.

The natural steep slope of the lot that the house sits on helps make the home more energy-efficient and weather-resistant.

"It's a berm house, meaning it is resistant to storms because it is set into the dirt," he said.

Partially underground, or berm-earth-sheltered houses, were originally designed in the 1970s as a solution to the energy crisis and are some of the most energy-efficient homes that can be built.

Nancy Williams, partner services director at the Springfield-based Habitat for Humanity, said each affiliate Habitat location has their own guidelines, but general guidelines, as set forth by Habitat International, mandate three main criteria homeowners must meet to qualify for a home.

They must live within the service area. They must have a need for a home. For instance, they may be living in substandard housing, paying too much, or living in an uninsulated home resulting in high utility bills. Finally, they must have the ability to pay the mortgage.

"We look at their income guidelines, and also do credit checks," Williams said. "We try to cut it off where we think people would be able to get a conventional mortgage. For our affiliate, for a family of four, the annual gross income guidelines would be about $17,000 to $45,000.

In addition to the basic requirements, Williams said a prospective homeowner must also have a willingness to partner with Habitat to complete all the necessary steps.

"They have to go through a series of homeowner education classes, put sweat equity into their own home and other homes," she said. "So, it's not a quick program. They also need to be able to pass a background check and sex offender check."

Homeowners do not get their homes for free, but must make monthly mortgage payments.

"They pay monthly payments, insurance and taxes just like a normal mortgage," Williams said. "So, the overall costs over the 20-year loan are lower because you don't have that interest added in."

Matukewicz said supplies donated to the local Habitat for Humanity store are being used in the home. Donations contributed to the home include 900 square feet of laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators, a range and refrigerator from Whirlpool, eight LED 60-watt light bulbs from Cree, windows for the entire house from WinTech, window blinds for three bedrooms from Hunter Douglass, door knobs from Yale and a gift basket of family and home care products from Procter and Gamble. Individual donors also donated the marble windowsills and money for the interior doors and trim.

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