Students team up with Habitat for Humanity to build home for family in need


Erin O’Neill

Watauga County Habitat for Humanity and App State are chipping away at affordable housing in the High Country by building a home for a family in need with App Builds a Home.

App Builds a Home is a partnership between App State’s on-campus Habitat for Humanity club and Watauga County Habitat for Humanity. It plans to build one home for a local family in the Watauga Habitat for Humanity housing community, GreenWood.

App Builds a Home works closely with the Integrated Design Experience Laboratory within the building sciences program on the project.

“Every year the Integrated Design Experience Laboratory is given a project that is locally based either through the community, through the university or a nonprofit,” senior building sciences major Christian Bocchino said.

Community projects, like App Builds a Home, give students in the building sciences program “a little bit of an outreach into the real world,” Bocchino said.

Bocchino said the students want to design a sustainable and eco-friendly home.

“We’re not only trying to build our way into the community, but we’re trying to have a good footprint when we do it, which I think is something not a lot of people think about when you think of construction,” Bocchino said.

Bocchino said part of having a “good footprint” means considering site organization, how building materials are reused and how they can reduce waste on the construction site.

“It’s a really awesome opportunity because it’s student design, which is something we really wanted to happen,” Habitat for Humanity Club president and sophomore interior design major Kayla McDougle said.

Reading education graduate student Megan Laws works closely with the Habitat club president and said App Builds a Home “is the whole university coming together to do all three parts: design, build and fund the home.”

Laws also emphasized the importance of the project because Boone and Watauga County lack affordable housing options, and the available affordable options aren’t “very nice.”

McDougle explained that people don’t need to travel far from App State’s campus to see poverty in Watauga County.

“You can see the poverty that is all throughout this county and so I think it’s super important not just to provide another family with affordable housing that they need, but also with housing that is safe and healthy,” McDougle said.

McDougle said App Builds a Home is an amazing way for students to get involved with their campus and the community.

“We like to think of it as giving back to this really amazing town that has welcomed all of these students,” McDougle said.

The estimated cost to build the home is $120,000, which is more expensive than a typical Habitat house, Laws said.

“Building costs here are higher than other places and Watauga Habitat tries to be very efficient with their homes,” Laws said.

McDougle said the project is a “half-and-half house,” meaning that Watauga Habitat and App State will each contribute $60,000, but she thinks the App State community “can do so much more.”

McDougle said “anybody and everybody” can fundraise for the home through personal donations, fundraisers and attending events on campus that benefit App Builds a Home.

McDougle said Habitat has raised money through Polar Plunge, Pet a Puppy and round-up campaigns in Crossroads, Wired Scholar and Stick Boy Bread Company. Habitat has raised $3,457 of the $60,000 goal.

The building will start in the summer with foundation work and the framing of the house will start in the fall, McDougle said. The organization expects to complete the home in fall 2019 or in spring 2020.

McDougle also said she feels App Builds a Home makes students aware of housing issues in their community.

“This is just the best opportunity to be able to share that message with everybody,” McDougle said.