Since its inception, Habitat for Humanity/Metro Jackson (HFH/MJ) has built over 450 new homes in pursuit of its mission. In 2010, 187 of them are 10 years old or older.
Sustainability is a critical part of HFH/MJ building practices. Each year HFH/MJ does an assessment on the homes that reach the 10-year mark to determine how well the homes are aging and what areas need to be addressed for future builds. Over the years, a number of improvements have been made to the houses to improve their ability to age successfully. In 2003, HFH/MJ switched to Hardy Plank replacing Masonite siding which had proven to be defective. In 2004, concrete front porches replaced pressure treated wooden ones and 20-year roofing shingles were upgraded to 30-year architectural shingles. We continually consult with soil and structural engineers to review and update foundation construction to mitigate foundation issues. In 2009, termite contracts with annual termite inspections were added to the HFH/MJ mortgage deed restrictions which pinpoint potential problem areas before they escalate to a major repair.
While durable building material selection and sustainability improvements can address common aging issues going forward, HFH/MJ helps the homeowners that are now in 10-20 year old homes maintain their valuable asset. To that end, the HFH/MJ Preservation Program was established in 2007 to educate, empower and encourage homeowners in the maintenance of their homes as they age.
It is generally accepted that as houses age, they require maintenance, both routine and occasional major maintenance. Most experts recommend that 3 – 5% of a house’s value be accrued annually for future maintenance. To aid homeowners in preparing for major repairs as the house ages, HFH/MJ requires a $15-$45 a month maintenance escrow amount for major home repairs. In 2009, 150 HFH/MJ homeowners utilized over $40,000 in maintenance escrow accounts for repair and maintenance on their homes.
HFH/MJ requires the homeowner family put in 250-500 hours of sweat equity working on their and other HFH/MJ homes as well as homeownership training and budget counseling. The partner families learn many valuable skills on the work site that help them in the maintenance of their home. The educational component of successful homeownership continues throughout the life of the homeowner’s no-interest HFH/MJ mortgage through monthly newsletters, weatherization programs, and HFH/MJ Homeowner Association meetings. Being established in 2010 is a Do-It-Yourself information center for common repairs and maintenance classes for post-purchase partner families.
HFH/MJ does a 1-year and 10-year assessment visit with the partner family homeowners. This visit enables HFH/MJ to determine how well the family is maintaining the home as well as to review our own building practices. Other home inspections are done as needed if homes begin to show excessive wear and tear and. as the mortgage holder, HFH/MJ requires the property be maintained to acceptable standards.
HFH/MJ needs additional funding for HFH/MJ Preservation Program grants and loans which are no-interest extensions on the family’s no-interest mortgage. As funds are available, HFH/MJ offers to special needs, elderly/disabled, partner families that need major repairs an opportunity to apply for Preservation Program grants and loans for these repairs. The grant/loans range from $500-$5000 depending on the scope of the work required. The special needs homeowner applying for Preservation Program funds is required to contribute funds from their maintenance escrow account, upgrade their deed restrictions to include the annual termite inspection and attend other post-purchase educational components determined of value for the particular family’s needs.
In 2009 HFH/MJ identified 25 elderly/disabled special needs families that need assistance in significant maintenance issues such as defective siding replacement, foundation and porch repair and replacement roofs.
All repairs made through the Preservation Program will ensure that the homes are sustainable for the term of the mortgage and beyond and provide a continual positive impact on the homeowner’s neighborhood.
For more information contact Alan Johnson at [ email ] or call 601-353-6060.