|Star Level: 4-Star
|Checklist: Single Family/ Townhome New Construction
|Average HERS Score: 68
|Verifier: Pamela Worner,
Green Dog Enterprises, Inc
|Site and Water
|Indoor Air Quality
|House Size Multiplier
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Written by: Pamela Worner, Green Dog Enterprises, Inc
In Rose Park there is a cul-de-sac of 10 modest-sized homes in Snohomish up the hill from the Evergreen State Fairgrounds. It looks like a typical development, but it isn't. These houses were built by the homeowners themselves, under the guidance of one professional supervisor and a few key subcontractors.
The homes at Rose Park were built through the Team HomeBuilding program of Housing Hope; a nonprofit that's helped nearly 300 Snohomish County families build their own homes since 1992. The program is one of six in Washington state that receives funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide self-help affordable housing in rural areas. "Our goal is to help people become homeowners in a safe, secure and thriving neighborhood, in a home that is warm and inviting with a house payment that will allow them to live within their means," said Fred Safstrom, Housing Hope Chief Operating Officer.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan program offers qualifying participants no down payment and an interest rate as low as one percent on a 38-year mortgage. The homeowners can even defer payments one time for up to two years while they're in an education or training program; The payments are simply added to the back end of the loan. In return, each family commits to working at the site for 30 hours per week throughout the 12-month construction period.
"We call it Team HomeBuilding for a reason," explains Lewis Pounds, Housing Hope construction supervisor. "No skills are required to become one of our homeowners. We teach them to do framing, siding, air sealing, finish carpentry, painting, landscaping and even some flooring installation. By the time their home is done, they've done everything from staking out the footprint to nailing on the house numbers. And because they all work on each other's homes, when they move in they're already a community. Nobody moves in until all the homes are done."
Although the homes must be ENERGY STAR®-certified as a condition of the funding, Housing Hope chooses to go above and beyond to reach 4-star Built Green. As Team HomeBuilding Program Manager Ron Peterson puts it, "We want to provide housing with as minimal an impact on the environment as possible and influence the families to do likewise in their daily lives."
The homes range from roughly 1,200 to 1,600 square feet with three to five bedrooms to accommodate families that range from a single mother with one child all the way to families with more than five children. The homes are ENERGY STAR certified and feature ductless heat pumps, 24-on-center framing and infiltration rates around 4.0 ACH50. All of this helps achieve an average HERS score of 68. That translates to projected monthly energy costs of just $78.
To ensure a healthy home, Housing Hope uses formaldehyde-free cabinets and trim, along with carpet that is CRI Green Label certified for off-gassing. Homeowners can choose to eliminate carpet from the bedrooms, and an increasing number are doing so. Lawn area is kept to a minimum, and 90 percent of jobsite debris is recycled.
The Rose Park project proves that building green, energy-efficient homes don't have to be expensive. Although the homeowners provide sweat equity and the supervisor's salary is covered by the USDA funding, all the other costs for the homes (excluding land) total just $63 per square foot. Unlike Habitat for Humanity, the Team HomeBuilding program receives no donated materials or skilled labor. The homeowners are able to take advantage of Snohomish PUD rebates for CFL lighting and the ductless heat pumps and allows Housing Hope to qualify for the utility's ENERGY STAR Homes incentive.
In addition to the Team HomeBuilding program, Housing Hope meets housing needs by providing emergency shelter for up to 90 days, subsidized apartments and homeless housing for up to two years. This includes individual caseworkers and training programs.
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