Photo by Ken Lambert of The Seattle Times
SEATTLE - Habitat for Humanity of Seattle and South King County has seen the future. And it wants to make sure that affordable housing is a part of it.
That's why, in conjunction with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, it and many partners including Seattle City Light, have completed construction of the House of the Immediate Future just a few hundred yards away from the Space Needle. It's open for public tours Thursday through Sunday afternoons until late October.
The 1,400 square foot, two-story house reflects Habitat's commitment to sustainable, green housing. It has Energy Star appliances, triple-glazed windows and thicker-than-usual walls to make room for extra insulation. The siding is manufactured from recycled materials and the heat pump warms not just the living space, but also the water heater. Roof-top drains collect rain water that's then stored in a cistern in the crawl space for landscaping and flushing toilets. Volunteers contributed some 5,300 hours to building the house.
Look at the house and you might not realize it's modular, a critical element in its affordability. It's built around a prefabricated central, utility module that's dropped into the house already pre-wired and pre-plumbed, cutting two months off the normal construction schedule. "Te faster we produce them," explained Habitat for Humanity construction manager Matt Haight, "the more people we are able to house."
It also illustrates how far housing has come in the past 50 years, noted Mike Jobes of The Miller Hull Partnership, the architectural firm on the project. In addition to developing the design, Jack Broom of The Seattle Times reports, they consulted with "more than 60 local experts" on "methods and materials" for the job.
Back in the 60's, Jobes told Broom, "they weren't thinking much about finite resources back then. They just wanted gizmos."
The house isn't for sale, Broom notes. It's already been sold to Mohammednur Mohammed, 43, a nursing assistant at Harborview Medical Center. A few years back, he helped a friend work on her Habitat home. But he never thought he'd be one. But now, after completing nearly 400 hours of "sweat equity," he and his wife are.
Come late October, the house will be dissembled and moved from Seattle Center to a subdivision currently being developed in the Rainier Vista neighborhood of Seattle, an area that's seen considerable investment by the Seattle Housing Authority and others in expanding the city's stock of affordable and green housing.
It's not just the "bricks and mortar" of the house that are sustainable. So is the price. That's because the house will be rebuilt on a lot that will be owned by Homestead Community Land Trust. Mr. and Mrs. Mohammed will own the house, but the Trust will own the land. Should the family decide to sell, the Trust will insure that their re-sale price is affordable to other families like the Mohammed's who earn between 30 and 60 percent of King County's median income.
The Mohammed's, no surprise, can't wait to move in. "It's amazing, almost unbelievable," said Mohammed. "I appreciate everyone who has worked on it."
But if you want to see the "amazing" work Habitat, its partners and its volunteers have done, see it before tours end October 21st. ?Cause after that, the Mohammed's have a home to make, a family to raise and a sustainable piece of the American Dream to enjoy.
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