Construction Begins on Habitat Home

Construction Begins on Habitat Home

Habitat House Begins Taking Shape

Sunday, August 29, 2004

By Gaylon Parker of The Mississippi Press

GAUTIER -- A house isn't home until a family moves in, but a local work crew provided some structure to a future Habitat for Humanity residence Saturday.

Construction workers from Westin Homes of Ocean Springs built four walls and a roof for the house and were finished by the middle of the afternoon.

Early Saturday morning, the lot on Wellington Drive contained only a concrete slab, but by the end of the day, the building was looking more like the home that U.S. Army Gulf War veteran Scott Dwyer, his wife, Diana, and their six children will eventually occupy. The wood framing was completed, bringing the house one step closer to completion.

Westin Homes owner Ed McMurtry and his brother, Rick, have been involved with Habitat for Humanity for two years. His crews get paid for the day's work, which the McMurtrys donate as part of their commitment to Habitat.

"It's just a great cause to be able to help people," Ed McMurtry said. "We're in the homebuilding business and my guys love to come out here and help get something going."

The Westin Homes crew has worked for the McMurtrys for the past nine years, he said, and they were like a well-oiled machine Saturday. About 18 men were at the lot and three of the four walls were up by 9:30 a.m.

"They know what they're doing, I'm just getting in the way right now," Ed McMurtry said with a laugh.

"They're getting paid for it, but they want to give back, too. They recognize they're doing something that is a good thing and they're a great bunch of guys and they understand this is part of being a community."

Habitat for Humanity Jackson County President Bruce Duckett said he appreciates Westin Homes' efforts. Duckett was also impressed with the crew's speed.

"They're a high-end builder," Duckett said of the company. "Ed McMurtry and his brother, Rick, are just really good people, very conscious of the community."

Tim Kenneson, a family partner of the Dwyers, who is also an inventory control specialist team leader with the Ocean Springs Wal-Mart, said he came out to bring water and some food for the workers. Wal-Mart is partnering on the project with Northrop Grumman.

"The community involvement is great overall," Kenneson said. "We've always been involved with everything in the community as far as houses and helping charities."

Each Habitat home costs about $45,000 to build, and Wal-Mart and Northrop Grumman are offering ways to donate. Wal-Mart of Ocean Springs is offering area residents a chance to "buy a brick" for $1 for Habitat, while Northrop Grumman is offering payroll deductions to help build homes.

Habitat for Humanity recipients perform 400 hours of "sweat-equity" work in the homes and make monthly payments on the no-interest loans.

Habitat has built more than 125,000 homes worldwide since its beginnings in 1976.

To volunteer or donate to Habitat for Humanity of Jackson County, call 326-8440.