Piedmont Habitat almost finished with Farmville portion of project

Published 5:11 am Tuesday, April 4, 2023

FARMVILLE – Andrews Drive and Parkview Drive looked a bit busier than normal over the last few weeks. Work crews assembled at the four empty lots, complete with construction supplies. And, over a period of three days last week, Piedmont Habitat workers started placing homes. 

Now when we say a home was placed, we mean exactly that. Piedmont Habitat for Humanity is trying out a different method of assembling a house, thanks to some help from Cardinal Homes. The Charlotte County based company is building modular homes for the nonprofit, prefabricated buildings that come in sections. These buildings in Farmville are the first of 15 that will be built over the next 12 months in six counties across the region. 

In February 2022, the organization was awarded a grant in the amount of $946,149  through the Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) Affordable Workforce Housing Grant. This funding is to be used to build 11 new homes in Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Nelson, Nottoway and Prince Edward through June 30, 2024. Now four of those homes are almost finished in Farmville. 

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Due to the tight deadline of the grant, these homes were not built in the traditional Habitat for Humanity way from the ground up. One of the organization’s missions is to bring volunteers to come alongside the future homeowner to build their dream. With the time crunch, they made a partnership with Cardinal Homes out of Charlotte. 

“These modular homes will help us build faster and serve more families while still giving them the best quality product,” said Sam Rabon, the director of resource development and marketing with Piedmont Habitat for Humanity. 

Now that the homes are on site, Habitat officials expect to be finished with them by mid-April. 

“There are still plenty of opportunities (to help),” Rabon said. “There will still be work to be completed by Habitat construction staff and volunteers, including finish carpentry, cabinets, porches, and landscaping.”

What’s next for the Piedmont Habitat project?

This project stems from data in a Dec. 2021 report by Virginia’s Joint Legislative and Audit Review Commission. It said 29% of households in the state struggle with housing costs. Nearly half of those spent more than 50% of their income on housing, both rental and owned. And as mentioned, it’s a problem here locally. The study found 67% of households struggling with housing costs either lived in this region or in Northern Virginia.

So what’s causing this problem? Housing prices keep rising. The median home sales price here in Virginia climbed 28% over the last five years, to $270,000 at the end of 2021. The key part is in the last three years alone, Virginia’s supply of “starter” homes, those usually more affordable to low-and-middle-income households, has dropped by 40%, according to the Virginia Realtors Association. The goal here is to try and increase the number of affordable starter homes in the area. 

After the homes in Farmville are finished, Habitat will move its focus to Nottoway County. Currently, work is already underway at these locations to get the sites ready for the modular home delivery. The work on the three homes for this county is expected to take place from May to June. Details are not certain for the next stop yet, but Charlotte is expected to start their builds this fall. The future homeowners in Charlotte are already working on the preliminary process.

Even though modular homes save a lot of build time, there is still an opportunity for folks to volunteer to help with these builds. The modular homes come around 80 to 90% finished but there is more to do including site prep, installing flooring, cabinets, porches, finish work and landscaping. 

“It’s a different structure, but there’s still an opportunity for volunteers,” said Mary Shepherd, the volunteer coordinator. “We had a group of volunteers on-site when the homes were delivered and they got so excited. It’s a unique opportunity to progress faster while also engaging the volunteers. ”