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Job sight: Habitat volunteers raise a house along with visibility
By Charles Swenson
The walls went up fast on Tim and Shakira Duncan’s new home. The morning sun had barely dried the dew on the carpet of grass.
It didn’t take long for them to come down, either.
That’s the way it was planned.
The rise and fall of the Duncan home next to the Palmetto Ace Home Center on Highway 17 was the first “panel build” for Habitat for Humanity of Georgetown County. “Other affiliates do this,” said Annette Perreault, the director of Habitat in Georgetown. A visiting group of builders from Indianapolis piqued local interest in the technique. “They build an entire house at the state fair,” Perreault said.
Chris Gardner, the Habitat construction coordinator, and Christine Cribb, its development director, attended a workshop on panel builds during Habitat’s national conference this year. The secret to success is to start early. Volunteers worked over the summer cutting and color coding the lumber for the house. It’s the slow season for Habitat projects because of the heat, but they were able to work indoors.
Palmetto Ace is just over 10 miles from the lot where the Duncans will live on the west side of Georgetown. But it was close to the house sponsor, Peace Sotheby’s Realty, and the sponsor of the Pawleys Pavilion Reunion, Rinehart Dentistry, which also funded the project.
“We’re always trying to find opportunities to bring construction to the sponsors,” Perreault said. “It’s hard for them to give up a day to drive to Georgetown.”
Others came out of curiosity. Habitat has about 25 active volunteers. The chance to help with the Duncan house brought 62 new volunteers. Those included staff from Waccamaw Middle School, where Tim Duncan works as a custodian.
The door and window frames were already built. Volunteers assembled the color coded wall sections and the panels were screwed together. “It went up much faster than we thought it would,” Perreault said.
Teams were scheduled for two-hour shifts. Some didn’t want to leave. Others planned to follow the sections to Georgetown and continue to work on the job site. The house is due for completion next year. “They were exposed to the Habitat mission and exposed to the Duncan family,” Perreault said. “They’re not a nebulous group, they’re real people.”
And soon, they’ll have a real home.
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