Goshen News, Goshen, IN

July 1, 2013

Habitat will renovate instead of build

By DL PERRIN
THE GOSHEN NEWS

— LAGRANGE — Breaking away from tradition and keeping up with the times are two challenges recently met by the board of the LaGrange County Habitat for Humanity. Mont Arnold, Habitat’s director announced the group is trying something new. They are taking on a home renovation instead of erecting a new house.

Having purchased an older home at a reasonable price in Howe, they decided to try the option of a renovation. The organization will also build another home this year from the ground up. Other Habitat organizations across the country have been doing renovations for a while. To see if it is a viable option in LaGrange County, the local board will do a cost/benefit analysis after this year’s two projects are completed.

“We got a great price from the Howe School for one of the faculty homes they owned,” Arnold said. “They have a few more to sell, so we may be speaking with them again down the line.”

The older home is in need of major renovations, so the Habitat board has hired a general contractor, Lynn Weaver, to handle the overhaul.

“Everything has to be redone or brought up to code,” Mont said. ”We are talking plumbing, electrical, roof, furnace, all appliances, plus both the exterior and interior walls need attention.”

“Bank of America has donated a foreclosed home in Stroh to our organization,” Arnold added. “So this won’t be our last home renovation. We could not be doing all this without the cooperation of Col. Douglass at Howe School or the opportunity to network with the business community at our LaGrange Chamber of Commerce luncheons once a month.”

The renovated home will be going to Bill Dingley and his four children. Trisha, 17; Maelisa,13; Nona, 9 and William, 7. Dingley moved to the area with his family six years ago and works at Wana Engine and Wana RV.

“We will be making the home into four bedrooms. It will take a lot of what they call, sweat equity,” Dingley said. “My kids are looking forward to the adventure of fixing up and moving into their own home.”

Dingley said he doesn’t know how to thank all the people who have been helpful to him and his family.

“The members of the Shore Mennonite Church have been wonderful. It was my boss, Gary Miller, who told me about Habitat and their program. I have learned so much by taking their classes and meeting with Mont and the others. It has been a blessing for us. Moving to this area was the best thing I have ever done in my life. We have family here to help and the people here are like no others on this earth.”

The average home costs the organization between $75,000 and $100,000 from build to occupancy. All of the requirements to enroll in the program are available by calling the LaGrange office at 260-463-8519. Volunteering costs nothing.

The 18th annual Habitat for Humanity auction and haystack supper fundraiser is scheduled for Aug. 2 in Shipshewana.