Justin Allen of Nelson Lewis Inc., a Marble Falls-based construction company, took a quick break Wednesday, July 21, from clearing 10 lots in Granite Shoals in preparation for Habitat for Humanity homes. Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity plans to build six houses on the lots. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman
The sounds of hammers and saws will once again fill the air, this time in Granite Shoals, where Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity plans to build at least six homes this fall. The land for the homes, which will occupy 12 lots on Sherwood Downs and Downs roads, was cleared Wednesday, July 21, thanks to donated work by Nelson Lewis Inc., a Marble Falls-based construction company.
“These are our first homes since the pandemic,” Habitat for Humanity board member David Waldo told DailyTrib.com. “In two months, we should be ready to pour foundations, maybe sooner. We are ready to make things go.”
Volunteers plan to pour two slabs and possibly build two houses at one time or, at least, one after the other, Waldo said. This should make up for lost time. The last house built by the local Habitat for Humanity was in Marble Falls in early 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic silenced hammers and saws for almost 18 months.
Volunteers have been busy, though.
“They helped put up a pavilion and toolshed at the new garden at Trinity Episcopal,” said Waldo, referring to work done at The Garden Powered by the Highland Lakes Master Gardeners at Trinity Episcopal Church in Marble Falls. “But it’s been a while since we worked on a Habitat house. It’s good to get back after it.”
Three volunteers anxious to return to work watched the lot-clearing activity Wednesday. Tom Luckenbach of Smithwick, Tyler Tennant of Lakeway, and Jeff Herzog of Granite Shoals gathered on the granite gravel road as Jason Allen felled trash trees and cleared cactuses.
“We’ve been waiting for a while, wanting to get back to it,” Herzog said. “That’s why we’re out here trying to push the process along.”
Hank Lewis of Nelson Lewis Inc. agreed to clear the brush from the land.
“They are kind enough to come out with their heavy equipment and clear the ground,” Luckenbach said. “They never charge anything. They are just good folks. Hank’s a heck of a good guy.”
Nelson Lewis employees involved are Justin Allen, Jack Carpenter, and A.J. Rowden.
Habitat for Humanity builds homes for people who might not otherwise be able to buy one, Waldo explained, emphasizing that the houses are not given away. Families must put in sweat equity and pay a mortgage.
“We supply the materials, and they help supply the labor,” Waldo said.
To qualify, potential homeowners must volunteer 350 hours on someone else’s home and 350 hours on their own. They also take financial classes. Along with a mortgage, they pay into an escrow account that makes sure home insurance and taxes are covered.
As volunteers prepare to once again don their carpenter belts, Waldo said they are looking for more help.
“We can use all the volunteers we can get,” Waldo said. “We have a core group of us that have worked together over the past four or five years. That core group makes a lot of stuff happen with their combination of desire and expertise.”