Realtor volunteers build house within a week
HOLIDAY - A crew of volunteers nailed a tough assignment, building a house within a week for West Pasco Habitat for Humanity. On June 4, a Monday, the small army of volunteers from the West Pasco Board of Realtors descended upon 1838 Arcadia Road. By that Friday, the house for a needy family was essentially constructed — even though workers were dodging raindrops for much of the week. People could even watch progress of construction through a live camera feed on the Habitat and Realtors board website.The workers hammered away on the Blitz Build project to open the door to home ownership for struggling families. The Realtors crew put to good use the modular building techniques they had learned on their previous Habitat project on Haver Lane in Holiday last fall. Once again, Structural Insulated Panel Systems speeded construction of a West Pasco Habitat house. Not only does the home go up faster, but also the insulated panels drastically reduce electric bills to about $40 a month. The panels also offer more resistance to hurricane winds. Sarasota-based Gramatica SIPS International supplies the panels. The 3-year-old company is run by former Tampa Bay Buccaneers placekicker Martin Gramatica and his brothers Bill and Santiago, who were also kickers. With the house on Arcadia Road nearing completion, Habitat has already outlined an ambitious plan to complete four homes by the end of the year. In the past, Habitat volunteers often tackled perhaps one or two projects a year. Corporate sponsors such as the Realtors have really stepped up to the plate, West Pasco Habitat Executive Director Korbus Appelgrijn said. While Americus, Ga.-based Habitat for Humanity is best known for housing construction, it offers a program that repairs existing houses, Appelgrijn emphasized. For instance, a cash-strapped homeowner might face cancellation of an insurance policy because he can't afford roof repairs. Or a home air-conditioning system might conk out in summer and the resident can't pay to fix it. That's where Habitat can step in with free labor and no-interest, short-term loans for the materials, Appelgrijn said. Perhaps a house can stand a new coat of paint, so the Brush of Kindness program can assist homeowners. The Habitat for Humanity motto is "A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out."