After missing their goal last year due to rain, a local housing nonprofit and Richmond tobacco giant’s effort to build a home in five days is on track to meet its self-imposed deadline.
Project:Homes is working with Philip Morris USA to complete construction of a new house by Friday in Southern Barton Heights. Work started Monday and was ahead of schedule as of Wednesday, putting the group on pace to meet the five-day goal they missed by two days last year.
The one-story, 1,500-square-foot house taking shape at 22 King St. is the second collaboration between the two groups, which came up with the five-day project as an exercise for engineering students interning at Philip Morris’s Southside manufacturing facility.
The three-bedroom, two-bathroom house – to be sold to a low-income military veteran – offers the 12 interns hands-on experience as project managers that they can carry over into their duties at Philip Morris, said Jim Dawson, an associate staff engineer with the Richmond-based company, a division of locally headquartered Altria Group.
“It kind of mimics what it’s like in a real-life plant scenario at the manufacturing center,” Dawson said. “We have shutdowns twice a year, where we perform a lot of our maintenance and project activity, and they typically happen in a five-day period, around the clock, 24 hours a day. That’s how the idea behind doing the house in five days came about.”
Similarly, the housebuilding operation has been a round-the-clock project, with work continuing throughout the day and overnight. The foundation was previously laid and some supplies were placed on-site, but construction started in earnest Monday morning and has been ongoing since.
“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s really cool to watch,” said Project:Homes’ Matt Morgan, who has been overseeing the project with Dawson and the interns.
“What they gain is project management and problem-solving skills. What we gain is some really innovative approaches to house-building. We’ve been doing this a long time, but this is only the second time trying to do it under a week, so we learn what can be going on at the same time, how do we make the process faster, how do we keep our energy-efficiency standards all moving a little quicker.”
With the interns serving as project managers, local contractors were hired to construct the house, which will have a price tag of $150,000. More than 100 people are involved in the project, which is the sixth house Project:Homes has built in Southern Barton Heights – the other five across the street lining Rose Avenue.
The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority purchased the 0.15-acre lot in May for $88,000, according to city property records. The land was then transferred to Project:Homes.
The house is one of 25 homes the nonprofit is slated to build this year. It has built 138 houses for low-income families and individuals in Richmond and Henrico County since it started in 2000.
Its other projects include a house funded through the nonprofit Maggie Walker Community Land Trust in North Church Hill, where Project:Homes has been active in recent years through construction projects such as the nearby Church Hill Model Block.
Beyond homebuilding, Project:Homes was also behind the purchase and renovation of the William Byrd building, which recently underwent a $5 million upgrade.