November 12, 2001
Woodinville companies volunteer to top off Habitat homes
by Jeanette Knutson
Dan Meyer, president of Northshore Sheet Metal in Woodinville, says his company is always looking for ways to give back to the community.
The problem is, he said, "We're busy working all the time, and it's hard to find time to research projects that are worthwhile and that fit our needs."
But one Sunday about a month ago Meyer read an article in the Seattle Times-Post Intelligencer about the Snoqualmie Ridge Habitat for Humanity project. According to the article, the project had fallen behind and houses needed roofs installed before the autumn rains set in.
He noticed from the picture accompanying the article that some of the houses had metal roofs.
"Metal roofs, that's our main work," said Meyer. "Mostly we [install] commercial and industrial roofs, but we do some residential, too."
Recognizing the "Habitat for Humanity" name and knowing it to be a worthwhile charity, Meyer thought sending over a work crew to finish the roofs would be an excellent opportunity for the company to contribute.
"Their call for help was made to order," he said, and his company sent three people to the project for a week. By the time they left, they had roofed three houses.
Another Woodinville company, Lloyd Lynch Contracting, helped with Habitat's in-the-nick-of-time roofing endeavor as well. Lynn Lynch, president of the company, was contacted by a Habitat representative with whom he had worked in the past on non-Habitat projects.
"He asked me if I'd like to contribute to the effort out there," said Lynch. "They needed help and we could contribute. It was that simple. There was no benefit for us. I just couldn't see leaving those homes without protection," he said.
Lynch's company sent four to the project to work for a little over a week, he said. They, too, roofed three houses.
There is yet a third Woodinville company linked to the Habitat roofing project, Champion Metal of Washington Inc.
This firm supplied all the roofing materials for not only the Ridge project ‹ 20 homes and a community center ‹ but also for one Habitat house in Redmond and 14 units in Newcastle.
"We've committed to donate 100 roofs," said company president John DeVore.
Now, Champion Metal doesn't merely load up a truck with stock roofing supplies and drive over to the Habitat sites and unload. The company actually manufactures the metal roofs to order. Once the houses are built, measurements are taken and roofs are manufactured to fit each unit specifically.
"We manufacture them to fit so that no one has to do any [metal] cutting on the job site," said DeVore.
"Habitat for Humanity is a great program," he said. "I know they tried to get roofers in before October, but September is the busiest month of the year for the roofing industry. It's hard for the manufacturers and it's hard for the installers because it's the peak of their season. But the Snoqualmie Ridge [undertaking] is a neat project. There are 50 units on that project, with 29 to go. My guess is they won't try to put up so many at one time the next time."
Readers may have read about the "blitz build" that took place last August in Snoqualmie, the intense 12-day building campaign that produced 20 homes for the nonprofit agency, Habitat for Humanity of East King County. The homes will be sold to low-income families who contribute 500 hours of "sweat equity" to build their own homes and other Habitat houses. The homes come with interest-free mortgages of about $70,000. Around 3,800 volunteers (some from across the nation) showed up in Snoqualmie for the blitz, shirt sleeves rolled up, ready to work. And work they did. At the end of those 12 days, 20 homes had been constructed, all in various stages of completion.
"The blitz is exciting, it's fun, it gets media attention ... and then it's over," said Mary Martin, volunteer at the Habitat for Humanity of East King County Redmond office. "After the blitz, it's more of a plodding process. With fewer volunteers available at one time, it takes longer to finish that many homes. Too, progress depends on the skill level of the volunteers."
"The blitz," said David McDaniels, executive director for Habitat for Humanity of East King County, "allows you to accomplish a fantastic amount of work in a short amount of time. But when the blitz is done, one, the work done with unskilled volunteers is probably complete; and two, the remaining work is generally of a skilled nature. It takes a long time to line up skilled workers primarily because these people are busy working," said McDaniels.
In addition, last summer's bustling economy may have made it difficult for some builders to schedule time for volunteer work. And the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks may have affected the volunteer workflow. At any rate, by the first week in October, the lack of skilled labor left some of the Ridge homes in need of roofing, plumbing and electrical work.
In recent weeks, however, the loose ends have been tied up. In fact, some homes should be ready for occupancy in the next couple weeks, with the project fully occupied by Thanksgiving, said Mike O'Leary, construction manager for the Snoqualmie Ridge Habitat site.
"Right now they're hooking up the gas, and power will be hooked up at the end of next week. Then there are only final touches left, a little touch-up painting, maybe a little Formica," said O'Leary.
Of the Woodinville roofing triumvirate O'Leary said, "They came to the party when they were needed and we're thankful for that."
Businesses or individuals interested in volunteering for the next building cycle in Redmond (at the old Coast Guard site), Snoqualmie Ridge or Newcastle can call (425) 869-6007. Habitat hopes to build throughout the year, not only in summer.