Construction update

Volunteers push Habitat for Humanity house toward completion
Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Enterprise photos by Nate Howard

On Friday, Construction Supervisor Mark Baker stands in front of the Habitat for Humanity house under construction on Meriwether Drive East in Livingston.

Gail Hull of the Pine Creek Methodist Church and Jim Robison-Cox of the Bozeman Methodist Church install drywall at the home.

Tom Davis cleans up drywall scraps as the day’s work winds down on Friday.

When Habitat for Humanity of Gallatin Valley began work in August on a house in a subdivision on the east side of Livingston, Executive Director David Magistrelli handed a golden shovel to the future owner of the home — Misty Luchi-Bowers, a single mother of five and Livingston resident of 19 years — for a ceremonial groundbreaking.

As Luchi-Bowers turned some surface dirt on the empty lot, her youngest son, Max, interrupted the groundbreaking prayer with some shoveling advice: “Mom! Mom! When you push the blade down, put your foot on it!”

A far as Max was concerned, it seemed, it was time to get work on the place.

Judging by the progress that’s been made in the seven months since, it appears that workers and volunteers have followed his lead.

The house and garage are standing, roofed, sheathed in plywood, sided, with insulation and windows installed. Construction Supervisor Mark Baker, a Habitat employee and Livingston local, said they’re aiming for an “optimistic” move-in date of late April.

Inside the house Friday afternoon, a large crew of volunteers from local Methodist churches was at work hanging sheetrock.

Some of the skilled work has to be done by hired professionals, Baker explained, but once they get a house to a certain point most of the work falls on the shoulders of volunteers.

“Half my job is making it fun for the volunteers,” he joked. “Without the volunteers, Habitat wouldn’t work. It’s the volunteers that make it affordable.”

Labor is often half the construction price of a house, he explained, and cutting it allows Habitat to bring down the cost for the family.

To be eligible, the recipient family is also responsible for at least 500 hours of work on the house — the recipients themselves must do at least 185 hours, while the rest can be chipped in by extended family and friends.

When it is completed, the house will be sold at reduced cost and on a zerointerest mortgage to Luchi-Bowers, who said she saw the Habitat ad in the paper and decided to apply in part because of the escalating cost of housing in Livingston.

“It’s very expensive,” she told The Enterprise in August. “When we first came here, I don’t think the rentals were so hard to get into. Now they are, and expensive, and being a single mother with five children …”

The lot where the house will be built on Meriwether Drive East was donated to Habitat for Humanity by Raymond and Michele Stinnett and Rachel and Brad Osen — who are also the developers of the subdivision.

Baker said building houses is high profile but that Habitat for Humanity also does a lot of critical repair work on existing houses that need vital repairs.

“There’s a lot of need here in town,” he said, “and I think that people are too proud to ask for help.”

Those interested in learning more about critical repair work or volunteering can contact Gallatin Valley Habitat for Humanity.