March 2014 RV Care-A-Vanners Update

Featured News

Hello RV Care-A-Vanners,

We are a month closer to the RV Care-A-Vanners 25th Anniversary Build and Rally in Springfield, Mo., and your planning committee is getting excited. There have been a lot of people involved in pulling this event together including our partners, Springfield Habitat for Humanity. I can't thank them enough for their efforts to ensure that we will all have a quality building experience. Our projects will consist of new construction, rehabs and Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives, including Critical Home Repair and A Brush with Kindness projects. There is more than enough work that needs to be done and we will give everyone the opportunity to participate in each kind of project. Springfield Habitat is putting together bios on each family who we will be helping and you will get that information in your welcome packet upon arrival to the fairgrounds.

Those of you already signed up for Springfield got an email from me about our disaster rebuild team training. Funding was provided through a grant to the Disaster Response department of HFHI. I filled that course and had to turn some Care-A-Vanners away because of space and funding limitations. For those of you who would have liked to take the course, we will offer it again in late 2014 or spring 2015, funding permitted. The course is being offered the weekend before our build starts. Many thanks goes to all who are willing to come early and commit to helping with RV Care-A-Vanner disaster rebuild efforts across the country. For those of you who have not taken the course, you can still participate in disaster rebuilds. Just look for the DR in the name of the build. We are running builds all summer in West Liberty, Ky., Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Moore, Okla., and I have plenty of space on many of these builds. On the rally weekend, you will get a chance to take some seminars related to disaster response and rebuild. If you have an interest in disaster response, or even are just a little curious about what it is we do, sign up for one or two of the seminars. You will get that sign up opportunity when you sign in at the fairground.

Joe and Jane Gano, our project managers for the event, arrive this week in Americus to help Dave and I put the finishing touches on this historic event. If you have not signed up for Springfield, there is still time to do so. Details on how to sign up can be found in my lead article in the July newsletter. If you need any help with signing up, feel free to contact me directly or Lu Tillotson ( at our registration desk. Don't forget our fundraising efforts for building. We have not met our goal of $125,000 yet, so please help us. You can find details on how you can donate to our house fund on our 25th anniversary webpage. Look under the contribute column to find instructions on how to donate online, by check or how to set up your own fundraising page.
See you all in Springfield. Drive safe and God bless.

God Bless.

Mary Vandeveld
RV Care-A-Vanner coordinator


Windows to Washington

"At the intersection of discontent and hope"

As the last snowflakes of the mid-February "Snowchi" storm fell and residents of Washington, D.C., began to dig themselves out, Habitat's Vice President of volunteer and institutional engagement, Mark Andrews, addressed attendees at the closing ceremony of Habitat on the Hill 2014, declaring:

"We must plant ourselves firmly at the intersection of discontent and hope."

Do you know that intersection? We hope you do. In fact, while it's a tricky intersection to navigate, it's one that every person in our Habitat network should visit regularly.

You've surmised that this intersection isn't one you'll find on a map, but then where is it? As Mr. Andrews explained, building houses accounts for only half of our work; "speaking truth to power" accounts for the remaining fifty percent. As dedicated volunteers who hope for a world where everyone has a decent place to live, as long as policies stand in the way of adequate housing, we must remain discontent.

In your travels across the country, you've likely seen that bumper sticker reading: "If you aren't angry, then you aren't paying attention." Between cuts to funding for the Self-Help Ownership Program (SHOP) that has allowed Habitat affiliates since 1996 to purchase land and foreclosed or abandoned properties; mortgage regulations that overlook our time-tested model for serving low-income families; and denying support for the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal program that provided the Habitat AmeriCorps members who have now served more than 20,000 U.S. families, we have reason to be discontent.

How should we express that discontent? The answer is constructively and loudly! How can we do that? It's simple: through advocacy. We'll provide updates on Habitat's advocacy work in this column, including progress toward launching our very first national advocacy campaign later this year. We encourage you to consider how CAV team members can use their voices to call for an end to all barriers to adequate housing. As one, we can and will "Build Louder Together."

The good news is that we also have great reason to remain hopeful. With your help, Habitat is helping families around the world every day. We have a network of affiliates and national organizations that know and understand housing needs on a local level, and our mission is one that enjoys support from both sides of the aisle and federal agencies. In fact, when the snowstorm closed the federal government on the day that Habitat on the Hill participants were scheduled to meet at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB officials nevertheless trooped through the snow to meet with us at our hotel! Remember that next time someone starts talking about Washington!

Want to know more about the Habitat on the Hill conference? You can watch two of the sessions, including CEO Jonathan Rockford's discussion with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan and Habitat's Board President Renee Glover at We'd love to see CAV members in attendance next year! To receive more information, send an email to

P.S. � by now you've gathered that we have plenty of things in GRA we'd like to share � but we want to be sure we're providing the information you'd like to have. Do you have questions? Ideas? Topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? Please let me know!

Piper Hendricks and the GRA team


Remember: Send Mary Vandeveld photos of your builds or newspaper articles. If you would like to submit anything to the newsletter � a good story, a new way to do things, a construction tip or an update on a build � please do. This includes our partner affiliates! This is your newsletter and we welcome the input. Besides, you have got to be getting tired of hearing from only me! Send your contributions to I want to hear from all of you!

Team leader corner

A big thank-you goes out to our fabulous February team leaders. They are Dyana Todd, George and Diane Gravlee, Larry and Memorie Halstead, Bill Oates, Frances Harless, Michael and Karen Vincent, Larry and Diane Mock, Lowell and Linda Lamont, Dave and Mary Vandeveld, Bob Hammer and Sharon Upton, Mike and Paula Brown, Kurt Newton, Jay Guild and Jeff Greenstreet, and Richard and Ann Corr, Remember, if you've been thinking about becoming a team leader but are not sure what's involved, contact me at and I will send you the guidelines. Lack of construction experience is not a reason to pass on being a team leader. Organization and people skills are what are important. So, don't forget to check the "team leader interest" box on your registration if you are willing to lead the build.

Team leader reminder: Please be sure you are familiar with any weather hazards that could occur at your location at the time of your build. Have a safety plan and communicate it to your team. During a dangerous weather event, be sure you know where your team members are. The most likely events in the next few months are tornadoes and flash floods, but could also include wildfires. RVs do not fare well in these kinds of weather. Have an evacuation plan.

I hope to get to meet many of you at the Care-A-Vanner 25th Anniversary Build and Rally. During the rally, I will be giving a seminar on the role of the team leader. I will cover some basics but am still hoping to get some suggestions or questions beforehand, to know what is most important to you. So, what advice would you give to a new team leader? What lessons have you learned? What challenges have you faced? In addition, we will have plenty of time to share ideas, concerns, etc.
Finally, Team Leaders are needed for the following builds. If you are available and willing, please contact me.

  • April 6-20 Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Disaster Response)
  • April 13-20 Indiantown, Fla.
  • April 13-20 Dade City, Fla.
  • May 18- June 1 West Liberty, Ky. (Disaster Response)

Thank you and happy hammering!

Brenda Sawyer
Team leader coordinator

Spread the word
Send your RV friends a Care-A-Vanner brochure about this wonderful mission by just pasting this link into an email or just print out and give to fellow RVers in campgrounds.

Disaster Response

  • Moore, Okla.: Dan and Carolyn Banks are leading our response in Moore. They have secured RV parking at the fairgrounds in Norman, Okla., for a rate of $7.50 a day. These are full hookups, with Wi-Fi � a real luxury for a Disaster Response build. Go to our website and look for the Moore, Okla. builds beginning on April 6 and running into November 2014. If you would like to be on my email list for regular Granbury/Moore updates, please send me a note to
  • West Liberty, Ky.: West Liberty lost 500 housing units, many of them low-income, in a March 2, 2011 tornado. The latest news from West Liberty is that they have hired another construction supervisor for this year. That means we will not have to have house leaders on every build as we have done in the past. I have posted the 2014 builds in West Liberty and they are on our website. Sign up now so we can finish the mission we started. The tornado rebuild should be complete in the 2014 build season, and then we will offer regular Care-A-Vanner builds in support of the Morehead affiliate and their goal of building two to four houses a year. In 2013, our teams have helped get 14 tornado affected families into homes. Job well done! Now let us sign up for those 2014 builds and get this job finished!
  • Tuscaloosa, Ala.: Tuscaloosa is rebuilding following the massive tornado in 2011. I have listed the Tuscaloosa builds on our website through the entire year. No experience is required to work at Tuscaloosa. Dave and I just returned from a build in Tuscaloosa. They have a great construction team there and it is a very nice place to work. Some have asked why we are still building in Tuscaloosa. The answer is simple: there are still people who lost their housing units in the 2011 tornado who are not in Habitat homes yet. Our job is not finished there yet, so sign up for Tuscaloosa and give some families that hand up that they need.
  • Super storm Sandy: There is still a lot of work to be done in the Northeast. I expect to be listing builds in the Sandy affected areas soon, so watch the website for updates. If you would like to be on my email list for Sandy recovery, please send a note to I will notify Care-A-Vanners on my list first about build opportunities there.
  • Colorado 2013 Floods: We had six affiliates in the flood affected areas in Colorado. There was a huge need for low-income housing in the area with a rental vacancy rate of 1 percent before the floods. There were also some mobile home parks that were destroyed in the floods. The six affiliates are working closely with the Colorado State Support Organization and they already have a plan to work together and rebuild 100 new construction homes and do 100 Critical Home Repair projects. I have talked with the director of the Colorado SSO and all six executive directors and I think there will be a need for Care-A-Vanners this coming summer in their rebuild effort. I will be listing a build soon in Loveland, Colo. The build is for families who were in line prior to the floods, but this affiliate's service area was affected by the flooding. Let's give Loveland a good introduction to what Care-A-Vanners can do. I have an email list for the Colorado flood rebuild effort, so if you would like to be on the list, send me a note to

Featured Builds

Don't forget those Springfield, Mo., builds for 2014! Yes, our 25-year celebration and rally. We have room for everyone. I have posted a follow-up build in Springfield after the anniversary build and rally is complete. This will be a regular two-week Care-A-Vanner build to clean up whatever needs to be done to finish the projects. The build is listed as GV14-0157 Springfield, MO 5.4.14-5.18.14. Sign up today on our website.
RV Care-A-Vanners needed everywhere! Have you checked out our build list lately? You have lots of build choices and there are many affiliates who are counting on our teams to complete projects this summer. Please sign up for what you can.

trips Collegiate Challenge and Care-A-Vanners

We had a wonderful response to the March Collegiate Challenge Builds that needed crew leaders. There were 44 Care-A-Vanners that signed up to assist different affiliates with their Collegiate Challenge program and many of those Care-A-Vanners helped for more than one week.

Thank you to the following who have taken time out of their travel schedule in March to be crew leaders and work with these energetic students: Harry Fritts, Doug Augustine, Greg and Karen Harbage, Barry Mansfield and Mica DeAngelis, Richard Rogers, Greg and Jill Hunter, Chuck and Judy Sambs, Doug and Linda Yennie, Robin and Susan Grant, Greg and Pam Lurz, Roger and Joy Rossman, Lavern and Sue Clarke, Mary Helfrich, Larry and Janet McClintock, Lisa Crawford, Ed Behnke and Sandra Jackson, Rick and Anne Perreault, Philip Baker, Bill and Barbara Epting, Floyd and Jean Whiting, Mike and Mary Ellen Cotter, Richard and Ann Corr, Mark and Sue McGartland, Michael and Joyce Thomas and Bill and France Moriarity.

In addition, the following assisted with students in February and weren't thanked in the previous newsletter: Tom and Diane Howlett, Mel and Sherilee Heitmeyer, Gord and Helen Grant, and Dave and Mary Vandeveld.

Diane Gravlee
Collegiate Challenge coordinator

trips Anniversary Celebration

25th Anniversary and Rally Event - April-May, 2014
Now that you're coming to Springfield, here's who you will be working for.
The Dunagan family and the Stepp family.

The Dunagan family will need a five-bedroom home as a family of seven. Richard and Melody have two young children of their own, and are also the legal guardians of their own three teenaged siblings. Richard works full time for Cox Health Systems, while Melody stays at home with Riley, 4, and Ellie, 8 months. "We currently live in an older four-bedroom house, which to some may seem huge. But with all seven of us it's a crowded mess," says Richard.

"Dysfunctional and all, we all love each other," says Melody. "With Richard and I both coming from broken homes, we want nothing more than to give all those in our care the best life possible."

According to Habitat policy, this family needs an additional bedroom for their youngest child who currently sleeps in Richard and Melody's room. Their home visit reports that the home they currently rent is poorly insulated and is in need of repairs to the furnace, plumbing, and areas of the flooring.

The Stepp family needs a four-bedroom home. Samantha and Travis both work full time to support their blended family. This family currently rents an apartment that has high utility costs, as well as cramped living quarters for a family of five. Samantha also attends Ozarks Technical Community College part time to work toward her associate degree in Nursing.

"We want to offer our children stability. Balancing schedules with work, school and the kids has been tough, we want this house for them," says Travis.

This family is slated to partner with Habitat on a home rehabilitation project this April, which will not only lower their direct housing cost, it will also guarantee less expensive utility bills and space for their children to grow.

Golf cart rentals available for Springfield event
If you would like to consider renting a golf cart for getting around the Springfield fairgrounds during the two-week event, they are available for $220 for the two weeks. Please contact Jane Gano at for the arrangements.

Update on anniversary quilt

Thank you to those who contributed blocks for the anniversary quilt. Any blocks received via snail mail or brought to the build and rally will be added to the reverse side of the quilt. Please see the photograph for a sneak peek of this fabulous quilt!

So, phase one is now complete. Please consider helping us with phase two! We need a quilting frame to complete assembling the quilt. Is there anyone willing to share a frame with us in Missouri? We also need more hands to help with the assembly. So far, we have four volunteers. An additional 10 volunteers or more would make the work go much quicker. Please let Paula Huls ( know by 15 March if you are willing to lend a quilting frame or assist with the final assembly.

Jane and Joe Gano
25th anniversary event coordinators

trips Anniversary Seminars:

Our 25th anniversary celebration in Springfield, Mo., is less than two months away. The seminars and workshops we have planned will take place on Sunday and Monday, April 27 and 28, at the fairgrounds. As you check in at the fairgrounds, you will be asked your preferences for the workshops, so we would like to give you a little information about each of the programs planned to whet your appetite. Be thinking about which you will want to attend. As of now, we have planned the following:

Building High Performance, Sustainable and Affordable Homes for Habitat for Humanity. Presented by Keith Kaan, Habitat home designer and build supervisor, Mason County HFH, Mason Texas

  • High performance, green and certified homes can be very affordable and efficient as shown in a case study of Habitat homes built in Mason, Texas. This presentation will show how we build homes that have summer electricity bills as low as $20 per month and reduced water usage by about half. We justify construction of high performance homes with a payback for the improvements in less than two years. Partner families can minimize the risk of getting behind on their mortgage and enjoy big savings for the life of the home as well. The presentation will cover the concepts of what we do, why we do it and how we do it. We'll have slides of recent builds and there will be scale models to help illustrate the construction techniques.

Around the World with Global Village
Presented by Allyson Drinnon, associate director, volunteer and institutional engagement, Habitat for Humanity International

  • You can't bring your RV but you can still make new friends while building. Join Allyson for a snapshot of Habitat International's work, what volunteers are doing around the world and how you can get involved. This workshop will cover the steps to join an international Global Village trip, costs and fundraising and leadership opportunities.

Disaster Preparedness and Response
Presented by Giovanni Taylor-Peace, Manager Field Operations � Disaster Risk Reduction and Response, HFHI and Russ Griffith, Senior Specialist Construction Technology

  • Disaster Response Course: Every community is vulnerable to natural hazards and many of the families that Habitat hopes to partner with usually live in higher risk areas. This session focuses on cost-effective tips and best practices to increase a new home's resistance to hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, hail damage and more.

Presented by Kristin Wright, Disaster Corps specialist, Habitat for Humanity International

  • HFHI's Disaster Corps Participants will learn how HFHI engages in disaster response; highlighting HFHI's Disaster Corps program and RV Care-A-Vanner rebuild team. Learn about types of disasters, key terms used in disaster risk management, phases of the disaster cycle, emergency management standards, the National Response Framework and what can be done to prepare and respond to disasters.

First Aid and Citizen CPR Workshop
Presented by the Southern Missouri Region of the American Red Cross

  • Learn some basic responses and techniques for more common emergency first aid so you will be more confident in responding to emergency needs. Watch a short demonstration on Compression Only CPR. Although no official certification will be offered, the class should make participants better prepared to know how to respond to emergencies.

Golf Chipping and Pitching Clinic
Presented by Ina Davis, RV Care-A-Vanner and golf professional, Crystal Mountain Resort, Mich.

  • Learn the proper fundamentals of the chip and pitch shots � the scoring shots � and learn the proper club selection. Guaranteed to eliminate the dreaded sculled, fat and miss-directed shots. Bring your sand wedge and 9-iron. Don't have a sand wedge? Bring your pitching wedge and 9-iron.

Team Leader Seminar
Presented by Brenda Sawyer, RV Care-A-Vanner and team leader coordinator for the RV Care-A-Vanner Program

  • This seminar is appropriate for those who are considering serving as team leaders as well as for our veteran team leaders. We will go over some of the duties of team leading but spend the majority of time discussing various challenges faced by team leaders. This will include managing team dynamics and conflicts, devotions and other topics brought forth by those in attendance. Please send questions or topics to Brenda before the rally (preferred), or bring them with you to the seminar. Brenda is looking forward to meeting many of the team leaders who she knows only through email!

Joplin, Mo., Disaster Recovery: The Story of a Comeback
Presented by Scott Clayton, executive director, Joplin, Mo., Habitat for Humanity affiliate

  • Hear the story of disaster recovery for the city of Joplin and the accomplishments of the HFH affiliate: flourishing against terrific odds, bringing groups together to service families in need and staff dedicated to helping � resulting in an astounding rate of recovery.

RV Care-A-Vanner Desk Questions and Answers
Presented by the RV Care-A-Vanner desk staff.

  • Meet the volunteers who keep the RV Care-A-Vanner program working. Come with your questions, suggestions and concerns.

The Selection of Habitat for Humanity Partner Families
Presented by Nancy Williams, director of family services, and Emily Keller, Partner Homebuyer Program Habitat for Humanity of Springfield, Mo.

  • The Springfield affiliate has two family services committees, the family selection committee and the family advocacy committee. These presenters will walk us through the process from initial marketing of the program and recruiting of applicants to the burning of the mortgage when the house is paid off.

Family Motor Coach Association Habitat for Humanity Chapter
Presented by FMCA staff

  • This group partners with the RV Care-A-Vanner program. Learn about their organization and their involvement with HFHI's RV Care-A-Vanner home building opportunities.

We hope we have something for everyone and you can join your fellow Care-A-Vanners in several workshops!

Safety Training Seminar: Safety on the Job Site
Presented by Don Hartle, U.S. safety specialist from HFHI

  • Everyone attending the RV Care-A-Vanner 25th Anniversary Build and Rally will attend this safety seminar. Don will cover OSHA's involvement with our affiliates in recent years, insurance statistics of claim types and frequency of claims and how we need to change and improve our safety thinking while building. Don will also present residential roof related fall protection options that are available. Fewer and fewer of us feel comfortable on a roof, but each house needs one and we need to feel comfortable up there! Other types of fall hazards will be covered, such as holes and covers, ladder safety requirements, guardrail requirements, scaffolding requirements, trenching and excavation openings, stairways, etc. Don will touch on general electrical safety � tools, power cords, GFCI protection, etc.; emergency action plan � what's necessary and where to post for all to see; and flammable/combustible � signage, storage and extinguishers. As we build, we all need to be responsible for our own safety and the safety of those working around us. Consider this seminar a "tune up" so that we can build safer.

Warm regards,

Joyce Rush
New member coordinator

trips How to support the 25th anniversary build using Share.Habitat

Share.Habitat makes it easy for you to make a donation to the 25th anniversary build and to enlist your family and friends as well. You and they can also use it to stay informed about the progress of this exciting project.

  1. As a supporter you can see what's going on, encourage others and spread the word.
  2. You can also become a donor by clicking on "please donate." Donate by mail or secure credit card. Choose any amount. Donate anonymously if you prefer. It's all up to you.
  3. To maximize your impact, become a fundraiser. To create your own fundraising page on Share.Habitat, visit the campaign page, then:
    • Scroll down until you see the "Up your impact" box on the right hand side.
    • Click the last link in that box, which reads "Become a Fundraiser."
    • From there, you can choose to create an account through Facebook, or you can simply click "Sign Up" under the Facebook banner to just use your email.
    • If you are not using Facebook, just enter your name and email address and create a password.

Now that you've created an account, you will be taken to your fundraising creation page. You may edit this page by clicking on your Dashboard tab at the top, and then on the "Make Edits" link at the top. Personalize your page by:

  • Writing a short statement about why you're fundraising.
  • Setting a goal. How much would you like to raise for this cause? You can change the default amount to your choice. The end date and default donation are set for you, but you are free to change them.
  • Uploading photos that help tell the story of your support for this anniversary event. You may also copy and paste the URL to a video hosted on YouTube or Vimeo that will display on your page as well. Some content is there for you already, but you may delete it, move it around or add to it.
  • Telling your Care-A-Vanner story in your own words. Tell your donors why this event is important to you.

That's it! You're now ready to accept donations to your Share.Habitat fundraising page. You can add to the experience by doing the following three things:

  1. Click on the Dashboard tab at the top of your page to share your story using the promotional and email tools found there.
  2. Use the dropdown box at the top right of the page to edit your account settings. This is where you add a profile picture to show the world it's your page!
  3. Click on the Edit button in the strip at the top to update and edit your fundraising page.

If you have any trouble or questions with the process, please send Mary Campbell an email at I'll answer as soon as I can and share helpful hints in future newsletters.

trips How to support the 25th anniversary build without using Share.Habitat

Let's face it. Some of us prefer good old-fashioned low-tech � writing a check! We need your support as well. To contribute to the 25th anniversary houses by check, simply write "25th Anniv. House � Project Code 1113001" in the memo line of your check payable to "HFHI RV Care-A-Vanners" and mail it to:

HFHI RV Care-A-Vanners
25th Anniversary Build
121 Habitat St.
Americus, GA 31709

So there are three methods to support the 25th anniversary build:

  1. Write a check as described above
  2. Donate online on the 25th anniversary donation page.
  3. Create your own fundraising page on Share.Habitat or donate on someone else's page.

From the registration desk

Hello from the sunny, but not necessarily warm, South!

This month's topic is the online waiver. A question I see on a regular basis: Why do waivers have to be completed? Habitat International requires that all build participants complete an online waiver. The waiver resides with Habitat International, where if ever necessary, we can access the emergency contact information.

Another question is: I've already filled one out for the affiliate - why do I have to do another one? The affiliate may or may not require their own - this is totally separate from the online waiver and will remain with the affiliate.

We've tried to make completing the online waiver as painless as possible. Please note that there are only a few required fields to complete with the online waiver. Besides your name, we need contact information should there ever be an emergency. No medical information is needed.

If your spouse/companion isn't nearby when you complete the registration, there will be another opportunity when you get the auto-reply back with a link in the message so he/she can then complete their own waiver. Consider that we have more than 200 active builds with hundreds of registrations to be processed. For me to have to send out a separate request (sometimes more than that) to have the waiver completed adds another step that really isn't necessary and is time consuming. Please help me out by completing the waiver on the front end. For all of you who complete the required waivers before receiving a confirmation back, I sincerely thank you.

Until next time!

Lu Tillotson
RV registration desk

Welcome new Care-A-Vanners

Welcome Richard Ainsworth, William Alfork and Su Temesrisuk, Richard Desaultels, Jonathan Fine and Susan Slutskin, Wade Gebkenjans and Janice Mckenzie, Pete and Sandy Grayum, Jim and Karen Hood, Warren and Rita Howard, Bob and Louise Kayser, Al Lochner, Robert Mills and Lise Giguere, Ryan and Amy Payton, Gervin and Beverly Robertson, William and Lorraine Schwanemann, David and Bonni Walz.

Our apologies if we have included a seasoned Care-A-Vanner, or if this is duplication. Habitat for Humanity is grateful for the work that you do!

 Safety Corner

Guardrails for window, door and stairwell openings
This month I'd like to discuss safety around interior openings you typically run into during house construction. There are so many possibilities that I'm going to focus on just a few. If the drop from the outside of a doorway, window opening or stairwell is 6' or greater then these rules apply.

Stairwells that have stairs and also an open area that could be considered a landing with a ledge or a drop off must have a guardrail around the opening. This, of course, excludes the area where the stairs connect to the upper floor. Temporary stairs have their own specific railing requirements. If temporary stairs are not yet built, then the entire upper floor opening must have a guardrail or be completely covered. In most cases a guardrail is used. OSHA has some specific dimensions for guardrails in general. Top rail is 42 inches plus or minus 3 inches, mid rail is half the distance to the floor from the top rail and toe board is 3.5 inches (2x4) high while sitting on the floor. Two-by-fours will suffice for the temporary guard rail. If the railing exceeds 6 feet in continuous length and two-by-fours are used for the temporary railing, then a post must be placed every 6 feet. Make sure your temporary railing doesn't have any protruding ends or the surface of the lumber will not snag clothes or harm someone holding on. In terms of how strong they should be, the OSHA rule states the top rail should withstand a force of 200 lbs. outward or downward. Mid rails must withstand a force of 150 lbs. outward and downward.

Besides stairwell openings, these same rules apply to doorway openings.

Window openings
Window openings are treated similarly but with a slight variation. Normally window openings are not floor length. They usually start 3 -5 feet up from the floor. If the bottom opening of the window is 39 inches or fewer from the floor, then there must be a guard rail installed. As with doors and the stairwells, this is typically a two-by-four nailed to the wall. Use the height dimensions for floor and stairwell openings above for the height of the railings you nail on. That is 42 inches plus or minus 3 inches for the top rail. A mid rail would be required if half the distance to the floor from the top rail is in the window opening.

These are a few of the common openings you will find on the interior of a house under construction that present safety problems.

Work safe!

Frank Peccia
Care-A-Vanner safety coordinator

Questions, cancellations or concerns?
1-800-HABITAT, ext. 7534
1-229-410-7534 (direct)
RV Care-A-Vanner staff contact info

Register for a build online
Step-by-step instructions

Roster updates
Please email updated roster information to or or call 1-229-410-7534. begin_of_the_skype_highlighting

Report Care-A-Vanner hours
Help us keep track of total volunteer hours contributed, and partner families served. Please email these stats from your drop-in or ongoing builds to

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