BLACKSBURG — Hammers loudly banging nails into wood, people grunting as they lifted panels of sheetrock and high-fives over a job well done all marked a major day in the construction of Habitat for Humanity town homes in Blacksburg Saturday afternoon.
“It’s cool seeing it go up,” said volunteer Bill Finley as he watched others erect wall frames.
Site preparation began in May on the “Homes on Church Street,” a project of Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley. Comprising seven attached town homes, it’s the largest complex of Habitat town homes in Virginia, said Shelley Fortier, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley.
The goal is to have the homes near the heart of Virginia Tech’s campus completed for people to move in a year from now. So far, two of the town homes are spoken for, and the five others are available for those who would like to live there.
“Affordable housing in this town was needed,” said Steve Jones, a Habitat board member and member of the church.
Blacksburg’s median home value is about $296,000, which is $100,000 more than that of its neighbor Christiansburg.
Blacksburg Presbyterian Church donated the land to Habitat for Humanity. Blacksburg United Methodist Church donated $50,000 to go toward the project.
Fortier said the community support has been valuable to the project. For instance, the town waived stormwater fees, and an architecture firm designed the complex pro bono. Habitat is still accepting donations to go toward the cost of the $1.5 million project.
Construction began last month, with volunteers working on the town homes between Wednesday and Saturday.
The project features two 1,500-square-foot, one-and-a-half-story units with first-floor bedrooms and zero-step entrances, accessible for those with disabilities, as well as five 1,500-square-foot, two-story interior units.
Josh and Henrich Curtis took turns hammering nails into a wall frame. They were putting in what Jones refers to as “sweat equity.” The Curtis brothers and their mother will move into the town home that they were building.
“Let me try,” Josh Curtis said as they struggled with a crooked nail.
Volunteers spent Saturday focused on putting up the walls, giving the structure the appearance of homes for the first time.
At one point, a volunteer observed that the walls weren’t completely aligned at the top, with one interior wall about an inch and a half higher than the exterior wall.
“That’s not good,” Josh Curtis said. “That’s not what you want to hear when you’re going to live here.”
He said it was his first time building a home, and he wished he was able to do more, but he’s been happy to contribute where he can.
As for the misaligned walls, the workers came up with a plan.
“I trust them,” Josh Curtis said.