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HFH-P Works with New Family and Modular Build



In Powhatan Today, Nov. 16, 2022


Taking a bet, 12-year-old Aiden Chrimes could be home builder- or architect-in-training after watching and listening to him in action last week.


The Powhatan Middle School seventh-grader and his mom, Nicole Chrimes, and puppy Pepper, are Habitat for Humanity-Powhatan’s newest partner family, meaning they qualified for an affordable mortgage and will put 200 “sweat equity”/volunteer hours toward their new 1,200-square-foot home.


Chrimes, a VCU graduate who has worked for Powhatan Physical Therapy for 13 years and attends Passion Community Church, has rented for years and the rental home she is in now needs a number of issues addressed. A co-worker mentioned that she should try the Habitat program. “I also saw the information come up on Facebook and I signed up for the information meeting,” Chrimes said. “I was not sure if I could qualify. Everyone was so helpful and kind.”


“Homeownership for me and my son will provide a fresh start, no longer having to worry if the landlord may sell or raise rent. It’s also an accomplishment of working towards a goal, a place my child can always come home to.”


Chrimes and Aiden learned that they were selected on Sunday, Oct. 30 with HFH-P Board President John Saber, and by Saturday of that week, mom and son were selecting the color of their siding, shingles and shutters.

“This doesn’t seem real,” said Aiden as he put together a vinyl flooring sample and countertop color like a pro for the bathroom that he will use. Later that morning, the two came to the Powhatan ReStore and found four ceiling fans with lights that were needed.


Since finding out his family was a finalist, Aiden, a member of Boy Scout Troop 800, has been researching the building process, watching YouTube videos, looking over the house plans and figuring out how he can best organize spaces. He can’t wait until February when a huge crane will “set” and “marry” two halves of their semi-complete house on its foundation, after which local contractors and volunteers will complete the finish work — HVAC, painting, plumbing connections, porch and deck building, landscaping and more.


“We’ll make that day quite an occasion,” says Tyler Hudgins, whose firm Moseley-based Class A Lud Hudgins Inc. has worked with modular housing for more than 30 years. This home will come from Virginia Homes Building Systems.


Using a modular/factory-built home to begin the Habitat process is a new twist for the Richmond region. It has been successfully used by Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro’s Habitat, which was looking to improve economies of scale and place more families into homes in a shorter timeframe. Modular homes are constructed to meet or exceed site-build standards, and the homes are placed on load-bearing masonry foundations. These homes are financed, insured and appraised to the same criteria as stick-built homes.


“While this is something new that we are trying, the process will still involve volunteers and a team of giving local partners, including Benchmark Construction, who will help us oversee the finishing,” says Susan Winiecki, executive director. “We will do two houses this way in 2023 after almost a year of research and an unexpected move of another partner family to Amelia, which meant we had to start our application process again.”


This new build is being supported in part by PlanRVA/Virginia Housing, Envestnet Money Guide Wells Fargo, and Reed and Gail Schweickert.


Education and preparation are keys to the homebuying process, so Habitat-Powhatan is also starting a two-part Pathways to Homeownership program on Wed., Nov. 30 and Wed., Dec. 7 at the county library from 5:30 to 7 p.m. This free program, which requires registration, is intended for county residents and those who have worked in Powhatan for at least a year who want to learn about the homebuying/mortgage process and about Habitat’s program. “Our board is blessed to have current and retired mortgage professionals, such as Family Services Chair Robin Cupka, and Realtors who can share their expertise,” Winiecki said. “They are ready to answer your questions.” Helping to support the new program is the Bob and Anna Lou Schaberg Foundation.


Register for the Pathways to Homeownership program at habitatpowhatan.org/events or call 804-594-7009, ext. 2.


If you are interested in volunteering with the build or Habitat’s critical repair program, please call 804-594-7009, ext. 2, or email executivedirector@habitatpowhatan.org. Or if you wish to volunteer at the Restore, which has expanded its hours to every Saturday from 9 to 2 and Thursday afternoons noon to 4 p.m., please contact us at store@habitatpowhatan.org or call 804-594-7009, ext. 1.


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