In July of 1982, a construction crew of 250 built a three-bedroom house in Post Falls, Idaho, in just under 7 hours. More than 3,000 people, a crew from the “That’s Incredible” TV show and mobs of newspaper, radio and television journalists watched the record-setting build. The home’s owners, Richard and Mindy Galbraith, spent a much longer time moving in that it took for the home to be assembled. But that was just the beginning of the race for the fastest-built house.
Habitat For Humanity, an international organization that builds affordable homes for families that wouldn’t otherwise be able to own one, took up the gauntlet in 1990. An affiliate in Nashville, Tennessee, established a speedbuild record when they built a home in 6 hours flat. A Pensacola, Florida affiliate shaved a few minutes off that time when they built a house in 5 hours, 57 minutes.
New Zealand Habitat affiliate Maukau in Auckland began plans in 1998 for the “Sub6” project. However, on June 12 the Nashville affiliate reclaimed the speedbuild title in a dramatic fashion when they built a three-bedroom house in 4 hours, 39 minutes. The New Zealanders doubled down, renamed their project “Sub4” and claimed the title in March 1999 when they built a four-bedroom, 1,000-square-foot home in 3 hours, 44 minutes, 59 seconds with just 120 in the crew.
The reigning champion, however, is the Shelby County, Alabama, Habitat affiliate. In December of 2002 the build was complete in 3 hours, 26 minutes, 34 seconds — including all interior and exterior finishing and preliminary landscaping work. A YouTube video documents the build.
How did they do it, you ask? Modular building. The exterior walls and the roof were pre-built prior to the final assembly on the homesite. Wiring and plumbing were already in place when the walls went up, and the roof was lowered onto the walls in one piece by crane. Modular homes, as opposed to mobile homes that are built on a mobile steel frame, are constructed to the same standards as site-built homes and are placed on a permanent foundation.
Habitat For Humanity has helped build or repair more than 800,000 houses and served more than 4 million people around the world since its founding in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. Recipients of Habitat houses must meet a set of criteria to qualify: The family must be legal residents, have a reliable income that falls within certain limits, good credit and the ability to maintain a savings account, and must invest sweat-equity hours in building their own home and/or others. Mortgage payments are very affordable and the no-interest loan is paid back into a fund that is used to build future Habitat homes.
Northeast Oregon is served by two affiliates, Oregon Trail Habitat For Humanity in Hermiston and Grande Ronde Valley Habitat For Humanity in La Grande. For more information on how you can get involved, or to apply for a Habitat home, visit www.habitat.org.