With the season of construction completed for Community Rebuilds, the residents who saw their homes built in 2017 will be moving in on Feb. 1, 2018. That move-in date is close to the time for the group’s next construction projects to begin. This season, the team will build another three homes, two of which will be smaller models that will be built on Locust Lane, and one larger model that will be built on La Sal Avenue.
Though the land has already been acquired for spring construction, Community Rebuilds is constantly seeking additional plots for building. “Optimizing the land and using it in the best way is kind of a goal of ours, while still maintaining the integrity of the neighborhood,” said Community Rebuilds Program Director Riki Epperson. “If someone is looking to do something cool with their land, they should call me. I’m excited for the future. There’s so much I want to do.”
At a Wednesday, Dec. 13 open house on 100 North in Moab, the Community Rebuilds team and new homeowners showcased their handiwork on a group of homes built over the past five months.
“The community that the homeowners have is already really special,” Epperson said. “I’m looking forward to doing bigger subdivisions with more people, because the community build is really special.”
The new subdivision features one standard larger model house, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, while featuring a new, smaller model in two twin homes. This is the first time Community Rebuilds has constructed conjoined houses, each of which contains two bedrooms and one bathroom.
The shared wall presented new challenges, at first. “Everything about this connected wall needed to be three times more complicated to prevent a fire hazard,” remarked Mia Hiyashi, a Community Rebuilds intern. Assistant construction supervisor Alex Burbige echoed this, saying, “I remember at one point we had both of the building inspectors, and three CR supervisors, the five of us standing around trying to figure out how to resolve an element of our partition wall.”
The finished product was worth the trouble, though, according to the team. Epperson explained that, during the open house, the Fiery Furnace Marching Band played in the bedroom of one of the twin homes, and not even a drumbeat was perceptible from the other conjoined home.
Before construction began, Epperson was unsure Community Rebuilds would be able to find land to build on in town. They did find a plot, but it was long and skinny, and in order to implement the layout the team had in mind, a city code had to be changed.
“I’m a huge advocate of ample yard space,” explained Epperson, who believes features like this contribute to homeowners staying and caring for their property. Without the code change, Community Rebuilds would have had to implement row housing.
With the help of Moab City Planner Jeff Reinhart and Zoning Administrator Sommar Johnson, the code was changed, and Community Rebuilds’ first subdivision was born. “There are a lot of long and skinny lots in Moab that this code change might help,” Epperson said.
Once the code change was settled, the building team took on 17 interns to pursue their biggest project yet. Burbige said, “I’m still amazed that we were able to build three homes with 17 interns that had very little experience.”
Each intern worked 40 hours per week on the houses, in addition to 20 hours per week put in by each homeowner.
“When you first start, there’s a thousand different construction words that you have to learn,” said Hiyashi of her experience as an intern. “It’s difficult to explain a house to someone when you’re just putting together the first box. They train you on the spot. You learn to use an angle grinder by using an angle grinder.”
Burbige chalks their success up to the “amazing collaboration of a group of people with a willingness to learn, be challenged, and put themselves out there.”
Hiyashi was impressed with the team’s ability to source their materials from their surroundings. “You’re working with mud clay and straw,” Hiyashi said. “We didn’t go to the dump until the end, because that’s how good we were at reusing materials and not producing trash.”
In the end, Epperson reported both the staff and the homeowners were extremely pleased with the finished product.