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Day One Of 'Welcome Home'

When the construction of Michelle Hayes' home began on Nov. 16, she and other volunteers gathered in Yonkers, N.Y., for the special "blitz-build" televised by CBS This Morning in a weeklong series called, Welcome Home.

Often, Habitat for Humanity will bring together volunteers for a few weeks of intense building. By the time they are done, they may have built an entire neighborhood.

"Here in Yonkers, you have the same spirit of volunteerism," says homebuilding expert and CBS News Consultant Bob Vila.

Using cutting-edge technology, the people came to help Michelle Hayes and her four daughters put their home together completed the work in five days.

The basic structure of the home was put into place Monday in a few hours, thanks to an innovative material called SIPs, or structural insulated panels.

"Traditionally, when putting up houses with stud walls that have to be built in place and all that hammering and banging, it takes a long time," Vila said Nov. 16. "Here, what we've got is the ability to put together the basic frame, roof system, using the technology of SIPs."

Bob Vila holds a piece of structural insulated panel. (CBS)

Bob Vila says that about eight pre-cut, pre-engineered panels were set into place, then secured with adhesives and bolts. Prior to that, contractors from the community did the excavating for the foundation work.

Aside from the technology, the process also was sped up by the almost 200 volunteers coming to help over the course of the week.

"This is usually what happens with Habitat projects," Vila said. "You get real community involvement. These are people who live here, who will be the neighbors of the new owner of the house."

On Nov. 16, the side walls were put into place for the entire house. By the end of the day, the roof panels were also installed.

For Hayes, who worked hundreds of hours with Habitat as "sweat equity" for her home, seeing it finally come together was a dream come true.

"This is the best Thanksgiving me and my kids will have in a long time," Hayes told CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Mark McEwen.

Vila said he has been involved in helping families in need build homes for 30 years. But the Hayes home is different - a showcase for homes of the future.

"This technology, a partnership in housing techology, is something that is special to promote," Vila said.

The SIPs technology, which was donated for this project by Premier Building Systems, has been on the market for several years.

"I experimented with it two years ago when we built a larger structure on the Home Again show," Vila said. "From the point of view of being able to put up large numbers of housing almost anywhere in the world in quick succession, this is the technology that allows it. When you look at situations in Central America after Hurricane Mitch, the idea you can bring technology like this and help them out is great."

Written by Benita Green with graphic design by V.A. Burcop.
Copyright 1998, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved.

Sponsored in part by Louisiana-Pacific Corporation and the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing.


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