This has been an interesting build.Habitat for Humanity of Effingham County Executive Director Jimmy Rutland
GUYTON — If Habitat for Humanity of Effingham County’s newest house could talk, it would have quite a tale to tell.
Construction of the structure at 150 4th St. Extension was hindered by lengthy periods of rain, and, of course, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“This has been an interesting build,” Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Jimmy Rutland said during a Feb. 12 dedication ceremony.
Construction started in September 2020, just a few months before COVID-19 sparked quarantines and social distancing.
“We had half the number of volunteers that we had on the last (Habitat) house,” Rutland said. “Some days, there would just be two of us out here. We only worked Saturdays, and God decided to have a wet winter and spring last year, which cut out about six Saturdays.”
The building process — which typically takes about nine months — was especially long for Fran Ross, the house’s owner. She was approved for the mortgage in 2019.
“We finally got the walls raised in November of last year,” Rutland said, “and then it rained. We were so proud of ourselves that day.”
Ross and her family helped with the construction. The minimum commitment of “sweat equity” for a Habitat applicant is 250 hours.
“The family together — between Fran, her father and others — have put in well over 300 hours on this house,” Rutland said.
In addition to volunteer construction workers, Habitat for Humanity depends heavily on in-kind donors. The ones for Ross’ house were:
— Presnell, Kraft Haus Creators Inc. (general contractor services)
— Mock Plumbing and Mechanical (HVAC system)
— Curtis Ethridge (HVAC labor)
— Clay Morgan, Rain-N-Shine Irrigation (site prep and concrete services)
— Enterprise Rent-a-Car (house paint)
— Planters Telecommunications Foundation (water meter fees)
Ross and her family expressed gratitude to Habitat for Humanity in a special way. She handed Rutland a $500 check for the organization while he was recounting the history of the house.
“This has probably been the biggest blessing of our lives other than the birth of my children,” Ross said.
Ross’ initial application for a Habitat House was rejected in 2018 because her income barely exceeded the qualification level.
“It was a little frustrating,” she said.
Ross got another chance after income restrictions were eased the next year.
She said, “I would not have known to apply if Mr. Jimmy hadn’t reached back out and said, ‘Hey. Try again.’ We really do have him to thank for this.”
The next two Habitat for Humanity houses are set to be built in the same area. The organization is seeking applicants for them.
Apply at https://www.habitatec.org/homeownership/.
For more information about Habitat for Humanity, call 912-826-6433.