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Building and renovating homes

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Habitat for Humanity International builds, rehabilitates and repairs simple, decent houses with the help of homeowners, known as partner families, volunteer labor, and donations of money and materials. Often, skilled personnel such as masons and carpenters are employed for specialist jobs.

Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit and are financed through affordable long-term loans. Mortgage lengths vary from four to 30 years, though most are around six to eight years. Monthly mortgage payments go into a local revolving fund to be used to build still more Habitat homes. In short, Habitat for Humanity is not a “giveaway” program.

Renovations are finances through small, short-term loans. Monthly repayments also go into a revolving fund that is used to issues loans to more families in the community.

In addition to that, families invest hundreds of hours of their own labor – “sweat equity” – into building their Habitat house and the houses of others.

Additional “muscle” for construction comes from volunteers from within the country or all over the world. Volunteers hail from corporations, churches, schools, among other organizations. The annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Projects are major volunteer events.

Habitat houses are built in different styles and in different materials depending on local designs, local weather conditions and local building standards.

The guiding principles for Habitat homes are the same the world over. They are:

  • Simple
    Habitat houses are modestly sized― large enough for the homeowner family’s needs, but small enough to keep construction and maintenance costs affordable.
  • Decent
    Habitat uses quality, locally available building materials. Trained staff supervises the Habitat house construction and educates volunteers and partner families.
  • Affordable
    The labor of volunteers and partner families, efficient building methods, modest house sizes and no-profit, inflation-adjusted, no-interest loans make it affordable for low-income people around the world to purchase a Habitat for Humanity house.

Habitat for Humanity International is committed to resource- and energy-efficient building practices.
Staff and volunteers are taught to use sustainable construction techniques that conserve natural resources and reduce long-term costs for Habitat homeowners.