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Spokane's Habitat for Humanity chapter chooses concrete as the prime material for two new homes

Habitat house tour
Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
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Kelsey McCarthy and her children get a quick tour of the interior of their new house.

The new structures could be the prototype for future Habitat homes.

Habitat for Humanity typically builds wood homes for its clients. But the organization’s Spokane chapter is turning to a different material for two new homes in the East Central neighborhood.

Kelsey McCarthy’s new home near Liberty Park will share a large single lot with a second house. A framing crew has erected the exterior walls for both. A cement mixer sits waiting.

“This house is pretty much built like a Lego piece. They’re going to fill in these foam Lego pieces with concrete so it’s more insulated, so I’m going to save a ton of money," she said.

This is an experimental project for the local Habitat chapter, part of a national partnership between Habitat for Humanity and the concrete industry to build at least 50 energy efficient concrete form homes in five years. So far they’ve put up 46 homes in 26 states.

Here, local companies are donating the materials, says Michelle Girardot, the executive director of Spokane’s Habitat chapter.

“The envelope of these homes is going to allow for incredible utility savings," she said. "The families that are purchasing these homes are low to moderate income families and so every dollar that they can save is going to be a huge help for them.”

Girardot hopes this will be a prototype for other Habitat homes in Spokane. For one thing, it only took two days to get the walls up. She says the concrete home is only slightly more expensive to build, but will save money for its owners in the long run. The one hang up, at least for now, is that concrete is in short supply at the moment.

McCarthy and her three kids hope to move into their new home by the end of the year.