Hunched over in a cramped space, working for hours to repair an intricate moisture retention system isn’t how most people would like to give back.
The employees at JES Foundation Repair aren’t most people.
The skilled workers were busy repairing and resealing a crawl space at a Culpeper Habitat for Humanity home off Griffinsburg Road.
Originally built in 2012, the house was foreclosed by Habitat for Humanity and is being repaired to be offered to another prospective habitat homebuyer. Jerry Martire, Culpeper Habitat for Humanity construction coordinator, said this is the first time anything like this has happened to the Culpeper habitat homes, of which there are about half a dozen in the county.
Martire said there has been about $20,000 worth of repairs done on the house and the location is almost ready for another prospective homebuyer to move in.
“This is not a gift,” Martire said. “They buy the house, it is advantageous for the homebuyer, but they do buy the house. They are also required to do ‘sweat equity.’”
A lot of sweat equity was going into the home on Griffinsburg Road Monday, as the crew of six from JES Foundation worked to remove the inadequate crawl space vapor barrier and install a new crawl space encapsulation system.
“I contacted JES Foundation Repair to see if they could help with the crawl space encapsulation since they are the region’s foremost experts in crawl space moisture control,” Martire said. “I was pleased that they offered to provide the materials as well as the team of experts to do the installation.”
The crawl space encapsulation system will isolate the home from the earth. The humidity level in the air will be lowered, reducing moisture. The dehumidification/air purification system further reduces mold growth.
“The system we are installing not only provides protection to the structure itself, but also improves the health of the living space,” said Lance Ziolkowski, one of the volunteers from JES. “The next family that lives there will breathe easier with a new, healthier crawl space beneath them.”
Ziolkowski explained that the plastic that was currently in place, a 6 mil version, was prone to rip on the gravel underneath and that would allow the vapor to escape into the house.
He said the difficulty of the work was strenuous, but the crawl space in Culpeper at least made it easier to access.
“These are some of the worst to repair,” Ziolkwoski said. “This one isn’t so bad because there’s a four-foot crawl space. Think of some of the ones that are 18-inch crawl spaces. This has gravel down and plastic, this is the best case scenario.”
Chelcy Williams, communication specialist for JES, said the company routinely works in Culpeper and the surrounding area on foundations and crawl spaces. She said it only makes sense to give back to the community.
“It’s very important for us,” Williams said. “The community gives back to us so we want to do our duty in making sure that we are assisting in any way possible.”
Martire said the 1,650 square foot house is larger than what Habitat would normally build, but they were required to due to the land being donated to them back in the 2000s.
Martire said several community organizations and businesses donate their time to Habitat, but the volunteers have been hard to come by. He said that on this renovation project, he had four volunteers.
“One of the big issues we have are volunteers and getting enough people to do the work,” Martire said. “I wish I had an answer, we’re going to be breaking a ground on a house in the early fall and I can’t build a house with four volunteers.”
Martire said they are close to being done with the renovations and then expect they will be able to have a homebuyer purchase the house. He said the fact that the house needed to be foreclosed and renovated was an anomaly.
“We have not had an issue of this magnitude at any of our other homes,” Martire said. “Other affiliates have had the issue where they’ve had to foreclose, it’s the first time it’s happened here.”
To qualify for Habitat for Humanity, residents must complete a screening and interview process and they are sent to a financial management course at Alum Springs Baptist Church.
For more information on Culpeper Habitat for Humanity or to volunteer, visit www.culpeperhabitat.org.