Moving Habitat house proves complicated

It has been a long road for the current Warren County Habitat for Humanity housing project.

Begun in 2010, Habitat’s seventh project house was put on hold because of a cold winter. The construction work was done by the Building Construction class at the Warren County Career Center in the parking lot below the school. The winter was so cold that the school wouldn’t allow the students to work in an unheated space.

Priscilla Breese, public relations coordinator for the local Habitat group, noted that the project has had a series of delays, the latest being difficulties in arranging transport to the future location on Buchanan Street in Warren. A truck was scheduled to move the house on Wednesday, Oct. 2, but misunderstandings in state licensing procedures have delayed the move again.

Habitat volunteers are reluctant to predict when the house will actually be moved because of the ongoing delays.

She said, “This has been a real learning experience for us and we have learned a lot about making the second house move go more smoothly. This has been a tremendous amount of work on the part of people who have full-time jobs in addition to their volunteer time.”

Warren Police Chief Ray Zydonik discussed some of the logistics of the move, saying that PennDOT permits will need to be secured in advance, laying out the route the driver intends to travel.

There will also be parking restrictions along the route, requiring the notification of residents. Buchanan Street, the straightest route, would need to be blocked off for the move.

“We’ve asked to be contacted at least a week in advance of the move. We will need to get (Department of) Public Works involved,” and have the Times Observer print information for the public, he said.

Bob Kane, construction supervisor for Habitat, noted that the Warren City Police Department, Public Works and Building Code Enforcement assistance has been invaluable.

Greg Waterman, the class instructor and board member for the organization, said the three-bedroom, one bathroom house still needs some work, including interior trim, installation of a heating system and door installation on the “marriage wall.” The marriage wall divides the house in half, so the two parts can be separated for transport.

The roof will also be lowered for clearance before the move.

Kane added that some plumbing and electrical work also remains to be done once the house is on the new foundation.

Waterman noted that as many as 60 students from all four county high schools have worked on the project. Some have said they would be willing to volunteer to help finish the job after the house has been moved.

Breese said the family that has been selected for the house will need to put in at least “two hundred hours of sweat equity before they can occupy their new home.”

She added that once all conditions have been met, there will be a dedication ceremony to hand over the keys to the new homeowners.

Kane said, “Habitat is a Christian-based organization and is an enjoyable group of people to work with. The construction of these houses currently involves a small core group of volunteers that have been willing to help on a regular basis.”

“We are in need of additional experienced people and/or companies to help, in addition to our regular volunteer crew and the new crew members,” he added.

In particular, a volunteer coordinator with construction experience is needed to let volunteers know what needs to be done. He added that some of the volunteer work does not necessarily involve physical construction work.

Habitat for Humanity began in Warren in 1994, and their first house was completed in 1997. The organization currently has two properties that have been donated for future projects, one in Warren and another in Clarendon.

Kane said the best way to get information or to volunteer is through the group’s website, habitatwarrenpa.org, or by calling 814-706-9956.