editorial director

Denise Dersin is editorial director of Professional Builder magazine. Prior to joining Professional Builder in 2013, she served for 10 years as editor-in-chief of Hanley Wood's Builder magazine, leading many key editorial initiatives for the home building industry

Giving Back

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Builders are naturally involved in the well-being of their communities

July 18, 2016

Since the launch of Professional Builder’s Daily Feed newsletter on June 4, 2014, I have scanned thousands upon thousands of news stories about or related to home building in some way. (And yes, it’s me who chooses the stories, so feel free to direct any and all comments my way—my email address is at the bottom of this page.) The news biz being what it is, many of the articles I read are not what you might call feel-good stories. Lately, we’ve been inundated with all of the reasons why the industry hasn’t fully recovered from the recession: lack of land and labor; the proliferation of impact, regulatory, and other fees that raise the prices of homes; the rising costs of materials; the growing number of Americans who are unable to afford to buy a home; and so on. The business of home building is hard work and not for the faint of heart. It’s not surprising that recently released demographic data from the NAHB show that the number of single-family builder members stands at only a little more than 50 percent of the roughly 45,000 members counted in 2008 (Image: Adina Voicu via Pixabay). 

Which is why, when I’m scrolling through the news and I come upon a different kind of home building story, such as the one, for example, about the most recent Habitat for Humanity Home Builders Blitz, it makes my day. The Blitz is an annual event; a partnership between Habitat and builders all over the country to build houses for deserving families over the course of a five-to-10-day period. Builders (and starting in 2015, remodelers and various trades) volunteer their time and labor and donate as much of the materials for the homes as they can. Suppliers such as Ply Gem, Panasonic, and others also helped with materials, products, and funds for this year’s builds. During the second week of June, the volunteers built, renovated, or repaired nearly 250 homes in 71 communities in 31 states. 

Another story that hit the same note was about HomeAid America’s Homes for Our Veterans Initiative, which focuses on shelter development for charities working with homeless vets and community outreach activities to support those charities. Projects for veterans completed to date have resulted in shelters with 350 new beds, serving more than 4,700 vets, as well as 11 renovated apartments and another six that will be finished this year. These are in addition to the more than 440 housing projects nationwide that HomeAid has provided for the homeless through the generosity of home builders, their trades, and suppliers.

Those of us who work in and around the industry know of the countless charitable and community service endeavors of builders. Every home builder I’ve come in contact with, big or small, gives back to its community in some way. Why do they do it? How do they do it? How do they find the time when their businesses seem to require more hours than there are in a day just to survive?

I put these questions to Tom Gipson, the Raleigh, N.C., custom builder who set the Home Builders Blitz in motion back in 2002. He said that home builders are naturally highly involved in the well-being of their communities and that giving back is essential for the entire community to experience positive growth. Charities such as Habitat for Humanity and HomeAid simply allow builders to use their talents and connections to make more substantial contributions. Tom added, “One of my builder friends, when asked why he participated in the Blitz, answered that we made it so easy. How else could he, in a week’s time, with the help of his subs and suppliers, make a contribution of approximately $50,000?” 

I’m not sure it was really easy for that builder or for the large numbers of participants who spent their off-hours building homes and raising money, but many, many thanks to all who did, and for making life a bit better for their many beneficiaries. 

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