BUILDERS NATIONWIDE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY to do what they do best, while improving their communities and building strong relationships with employees and trade partners, with the first-ever national Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz.

Builders are being recruited now for the blitz, which will build 1,000 houses across the United States in a single week. The event is scheduled for June 5–9, 2006, which is Homeownership Week for HUD. Commemorating Habitat's 30th anniversary, the blitz will be the organization's premier building event of the year and the single largest contribution to affordable housing in U.S. history.

The idea for the blitz originated with Raleigh, N.C., custom home builder Tom Gipson, who partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Wake County, N.C., in 2002 to recruit 12 builders to each build one house in a five-day period. It took him only two days to line them up.

The builders donated as much of the materials and labor as possible and raised $100,000 to cover additional costs and help the affiliate build more houses. The final cost to the local Habitat affiliate for the 12 houses was $84,000, a mere $7,000 per house.

The following year, the HBA of Raleigh-Wake County joined the partnership, and the event doubled to 24 houses. Again, Gipson had no trouble getting volunteers.

“Eight were repeats, six called asking if they could do it, and one builder said he was hurt I hadn't asked him the first time,” Gipson says. Plus a team of builders from Wake County went to Greensboro, N.C., and helped builders in that community stage its own blitz of 12 houses.

Gipson approached senior management at Habitat for Humanity International about taking the project nationwide. They loved the idea and put him in charge.

Currently, Gipson is traveling the country talking to builders and Habitat affiliates, explaining how the build will work and helping them organize teams. As of late 2004, six affiliates had committed to host builder blitzes: Raleigh and Durham, N.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Dallas; Washington, Pa.; and Wichita, Kan. The target is to have 100 locations, building an average of 10 houses each.

The build is open to all local, regional, and national builders. A major difference between this project and the typical Habitat blitz build is that all the volunteers will be construction professionals.

“Non-skilled labor slows them down,” says Kevin Campbell, Habitat's director of the builder blitz. “They can go out and build with whom they [regularly] build with.”

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Charleston, SC.