Eagle County: Competitors come together for a cause
EDWARDS, Colorado – It wasnt your typical meeting. Last week, eight Vail Valley builders, who normally compete with each other to win a multi-million dollar housing contract, sat around the table discussing the best way to work together.This time, millions of dollars werent on the table; something more valuable was: their community. Habitat for Humanity has brought together top builders to create affordable housing in Edwards. It recently purchased Fox Hollow, a site in Edwards, for 16 homes. The inclusion of professional builders in the project is called the Habitat Professional Builder Program, and it has taken off at a break-neck pace. Habitat for Humanity turned to the building experts to help increase its capacity to efficiently construct homes. Habitat usually builds two or three homes a year, but board members realized that if they wanted to make a greater impact in the community, they needed to do more than that. But building three or four duplexes a year and managing infrastructure would be too big of a job for Habitats on-site manager; the nonprofit would have to hire additional managers to complete more projects. So Matt Dietz of Vail Custom Builders and Brian Judge of VaG Architects & Planners began brainstorming with Habitats vice president of the board, Barbara Scrivens, and they came up with the idea of asking professional builders to manage the project. This June, J.L. Viele will begin building the first of eight duplexes funded by Habitat. Each duplex, including land and infrastructure, will cost approximately $150,000 to build, and each builder will take turns donating time to act as the general contractor of the project. Hermes Resort Properties will manage Fox Hollows infrastructure piece. RA Nelson and Boles are vying to build the second and third duplexes, with Beck Building Company committed for the fourth duplex, next spring. All 16 homes will house working families who struggle to make it in the Valley. The entire project is scheduled for completion in three years.
Habitat for Humanity is striving to take a lead role in Eagle Countys workforce housing crunch, Scrivens said.In addition, Habitat is focusing on green building. David Huffman of Boles Construction is applying features of green building, which hes incorporating into a luxury home in Cordillera, to the smaller homes in Fox Hollow.They will be high performance houses from an energy consumption standpoint, Huffman said.The builders want to participate in the Habitat project because providing housing benefits the whole community, especially in terms of having people available for employment, said Frank Payne, of Beck Building Company.Plus, the builders are creating community between businesses that normally are competitors. Builders will be learning from each other as they combine different management systems into an efficient process, said Scott Ashburn of J.L. Viele.What its doing is it is causing communication between competitors and making all of us better, Ashburn said. Habitat is being very visionary and doing a great job organizing around opportunities this program will optimize.
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