Chatham County Habitat for Humanity has introduced a new technique in their attempts to build enough houses for people who need them. Wade Rawlins reported in the Raleigh News and Observer about the project.
Since 1989 Chatham County Habitat group has built a number of homes in Pittsboro, NC. The one just started in Siler City is a dramatic change of building.
The Chatham Habitat website shows the traditional building technique used throughout North Carolina. In the pictures on the site you can clearly see the stick built frames going up. It has been a very demanding and physical job.
According to the N&O report, when the workers arrived at the site to start the building they had to wait for the walls to arrive. And once the walls had arrived, they had to wait again as a donated crane lowered the 7 to 13 thousand pound into place.
According to Wade, Davis Rigging & Welding donated the use of their crane for the wall placement.
Amy Powell, according to Wade, hoped to have the building completed by June, months earlier than stick built construction would have allowed.
International Precast Inc., a Siler city company built the walls off site and delivered them by way of flatbed trucks. The cost is about three dollars a square foot higher. The potential benefits will come from a short construction time to build the house, a house with lower energy costs over time and the need for fewer volunteers per house.
In the past it has taken volunteers, most of whom are only available on weekends, months to do just the preliminary portions of the house. Piles of plywood sheets wood have to be hand cut to wall frames built put together one 2×4 at a time. Nails would need to be placed at all the correct places to assure a well built structure. Then at some point insulation would need to be added to provide the appropriate level of protection from heat and cold.
The new technique requires far fewer activities as the framing, sheathing and insulation are all provided by the wall structures.
Other local habitat groups, such as the Wake County Habitat for Humanity, have been experimenting with other techniques such as clustering homes in order to increase the speed of delivery of new homes. Other techniques include getting small churches to join together and as a group provide all the volunteers for one specific house.
The Chatham Habitat use of pre-cast walls is a novel introduction of commercial building techniques into the building process.