Veteran tiny home goes from a slab to a house in one weekend

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[July 26, 2021] 

In spite of a slight hiccup on Friday evening, construction of the first Veteran Tiny Home took place as planned starting Saturday morning.

A pickup truck crashed into the site late Friday night. Asked if the damages had set the project back, Central Illinois Veteran Commission leader Joe Schaler said that it had not. He noted, “We are overcomers.”

Wood for roof trusses for the new build was damaged in the crash. Happily, none of those boards were the two by fours signed by the community. And luckily, they had been delivered by a local supplier, RP Lumber, who was able to bring out more in time for the pieces to go atop the first tiny home when needed.

If there was any detriment to the first day of building, it was the heat. Temperatures on Saturday soared into the three-digit figure with heat indices reaching about 103 degrees. But it appeared that very few of the more than 50 volunteers that began the day were bothered by what Mother Nature was throwing at the project.

The group did begin the building project a little earlier than originally planned according to the home recipient Scott Jackson. He said that Schaler had given him a call earlier in the morning saying that the building crews were on hand and excited to get started on the construction project. Schaler asked Johnson to come to the building site earlier than planned if possible.

Jackson is a Logan County resident. He had lived in Lincoln, but for the last little while he has been staying in Middletown. He said he got ready and drove to the site arriving a little earlier than planned.

When Jackson arrived, 2 X 4’s of Hope Directors Mark and Chris Lawrence, Logan County Veteran’s Assistance Commission Director Dan Benedict and Schaler called the group of volunteers to attention. A prayer was given to start the day, and then Mark Lawrence spoke to the group about how the day would go.

There would be five building groups each one with a leader that was experienced and trained for home construction. Volunteers would divide up with four people on each construction crew. Other volunteers would be material handlers, making sure that materials were placed in the proper locations for construction workers to work quickly and efficiently. Ohers would help out where needed, as needed.

Lawrence reminded the volunteers that they were not expected to be experts in construction, which was why each team had a trained leader. The key to success would be to listen to the leaders, ask questions when needed, and look out for the safety and wellbeing of one another.

He reminded the volunteers that there was a tent for shade, lots and lots of cold beverages, and lots of morning sweets laid out for everyone to enjoy. Lawrence said that Sugar Creek Bar-B-Que would be providing lunch for everyone.

He also told the group that in a grand show of community spirit and support a neighbor from across the street had come to him early in the morning with a sweet offer. The neighbor said that any and all of the construction crew who felt overwhelmed by the heat should walk right over to his home and come inside for a break. The neighbor said the air conditioning was running well and anyone who needed it was welcome.

Finally, he said that safety was rule number one. He wanted the volunteers to be careful, to not do anything that was unsafe for themselves or their co-workers. He asked that everyone look out for one another. If it was noted that a nail gun was not being used properly for example, to stop the person and get a quick refresher from the team leader on how to do it right. It was mentioned by both Mark and Chris Lawrence that there was a first aid station on site. Mark Lawrence said that even what seemed like just a scrape or a scratch should be checked out by the people who are manning the first aid station.


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To start the build, volunteers were asked to grab two by fours and gather in front of the concrete pad that would by the end of the day look like a house. As the volunteers complied, they were encouraged to check out all the signatures on the boards. The messages of gratitude for service to their country, the word of welcome to the new homeowner were to be the very foundation upon which this new home was built.

After a few photos it was go-time and teams disbursed to their assigned locations to begin the building project.

Exterior walls were framed out using the signed two by four’s. Within the first 40 minutes the first wall was set into place and attached to the floor joists on the new home. The first wall was the 16 feet wide back wall. Then came the first long wall. Measuring 36 feet long, about one dozen volunteers lifted the wall frame and carried it to the home where it was placed and attached to the floor as well.

Another group set to work painting trim pieces that would be used later in the building project. Pieces were painted then laid out to dry on a special rack until needed.

Work continued rapidly and by just after noon, the house was taking shape. Exterior wall coverings were in place, the individual rooms inside the home were framed out and volunteers were starting on putting the roof on the home.

Lawrence had told the group at the beginning of the day that there were rain showers forecasted in the evening. The ultimate goal was to have the home at a stage of completion where water would not run into the interior of the home if that rain did fall. Mission accomplished.

The Sunday crews, Lawrence said, would work on the exterior of the home adding siding and other details, so that by the end of the day, the house would look like a home. Professional electricians would be working on the interior, so at the end of the weekend there would be a lot accomplished on the outside, leaving the interior work to take place over the first few days on the new week.

On Saturday afternoon, Schaler was thrilled with the accomplishments of all the volunteers on the first day. The project was coming along nicely and he was looking forward to seeing what the little home would look like come the end of the day on Sunday.

Sunday volunteers continued to put in all the effort needed to wrap up the outside work on the home. A lovely stone façade gives the house as extra special touch, while vinyl siding on the other three exterior walls will make the house maintenance free for the new owner.

Inside the home on Sunday, work started on placing electrical fixtures. Jordan Lenz with 2 X 4’s of Hope said that contractor work will continue inside the home on Monday and Tuesday. Electric, plumbing and HVAC will be installed and on Wednesday dry walling will start.

Then, making the interior nice and getting the home furnished will be among the final steps before an official ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday, August 1st.

Lenz said that 2 by 4’s of Hope will host a ceremony including a ribbon cut starting at 1 p.m. next Sunday afternoon. After the ceremony there will be opportunities for the community to tour the home and visit with its new owner as well as those who were involved in the build.

Additional details about the ribbon cut will be published later this week.

LDN will continue coverage of the building project as work progresses.

[Nila Smith]

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