World’s fastest house built in Montevallo

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 23, 2002

Onlookers felt like they were watching a time-lapse video, but the hundreds who witnessed Shelby County Habitat for Humanity build the &uot;World’s Fastest House&uot; actually saw it unfold in real time&045; just 3 hours, 26 minutes and 34 seconds.

On Dec. 17, five days after bad weather forced them to reschedule and almost three years after a Habitat affiliate in New Zealand built a house in just under 3 hours and 45 minutes, chants of &uot;USA&uot; echoed through the New Hope Subdivision in Montevallo as the house neared completion.

The three bedroom, two bath, 1,200 square-foot home was complete with electricity and plumbing.

A congratulatory letter from Habitat for Humanity, the first mail to arrive at 46 New Hope Drive, was even delivered to the mailbox standing in a lawn just minutes old.

Bonnie Lilly, a single mother of two, made sure muddy boots were left on the porch as workers took a final glimpse inside her new home.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit Christian organization which builds simple, affordable houses for people in need of adequate shelter.

As the recipient of the house, Lilly was required to give 300 hours of sweat equity, a requirement she had already fulfilled working on another house in the neighborhood developed by Shelby County’s Habitat for Humanity.

A rush job by a group of volunteers may sound like a combination to make any homeowner wary, but this was no ordinary group of volunteers.

&uot;This is the best of the best,&uot; said Daniel Dillon, a project manager for Reeves Construction Company. &uot;Take that crane operator over there, that fella’ could floss your teeth with that crane if he wanted to.&uot;

Indeed, all of the workers, from the Steel City Crane operator who lifted the roof onto the house to the painters who applied a fresh coat inside and out, were skilled professionals in their respective fields.

Most were members of the Young Constructors Forum, a subgroup of Associated General Contractors of Birmingham.

&uot;You got guys that are usually butting heads in competition, but now they’re out here holding ladders for each other,&uot; Dillon said. &uot;Our main objective was to give these people a nice, secure home.&uot;

Although the house was built in a matter of hours, months of preparation went into the build.

The rules allowed the group to prepare the site by pre-building the foundation, sub-floor system, walls and trusses.

Led by project manager, Chad Calhoun of Brice Construction Company, the group practiced for the build at an old schoolhouse in Maylene, Shelby County Habitat’s future headquarters.

Calhoun coordinated efforts both before the build by preparing an engineering timeline for the job and during the build from a platform overlooking the construction.

&uot;Normally, on a job we would have weeks, months, even years sometimes,&uot; he said. &uot;Here, we went through the same steps. It just had to happen on a faster scale.&uot;

Calhoun directed the workers from a radio as the build fell behind and went ahead of schedule.

&uot;We knew we were going to have to do some things to adjust and we did,&uot; Calhoun said.

&uot;These workers kept saying ‘Miss Bonnie, we’re gonna get you that house.’&uot;

Lilly tried to hold back tears as she accepted the keys to her new home from Alabama Power Company representative Sandi Robinson.

Alabama Power was among some 73 sponsors, including Lowe’s Home Improvement, BellSouth and AMICA Insurance, who contributed to the project.

&uot;My heart seemed like it was going to jump out,&uot; Lilly said. &uot;It’s like a double blessing &045; they beat the record and the house is just wonderful.&uot;

The build was completed 18 minutes and 14 seconds faster than the New Zealand record.

Ken Stephenson, chairman of the Habitat affiliate in Manakov offered his congratulations over the phone from New Zealand.

&uot;We’re very excited Shelby County Habitat has broken the record,&uot; Stephenson said. &uot;We’ve been waiting three years for someone to have a crack at it.&uot;