People Magazine Profiles Charleston Builder 'Heroes'
Putting aside their own economic hardships, more than 50 members of the Charleston Trident Home Builders Association (CTHBA) in Charleston, S.C. have built a brand-new, wheelchair-accessible home for a local woman who had been left paralyzed after a vicious criminal attack.
On Friday, May 1, People magazine shared their story with more than three million readers nationwide as part of the publication’s "Heroes Among Us" series.
"Even as the recession knocks our industry down, home builders like these remain committed to their neighbors, their communities and the long tradition of service in the home building industry," said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson.
In 2002, as Carol Armstrong was leaving her night job cleaning a dental office, she was brutally beaten by a stranger who stole her purse and car and left her for dead. The attack and a subsequent stroke left her permanently confined to a wheelchair, paralyzed and blind in one eye.
When Armstrong was finally able to return to the family’s 1,200-square-foot home, it became a virtual prison for her. The home’s small doorways, wall-to-wall carpeting and standard appliances confined her to one room, where she was unable to cook or adequately care for her two children.
After reading about Carol's struggles in the local newspaper, CTHBA Executive Officer Phillip Ford recruited his board and membership to help the family. They initially planned to renovate the existing home, but quickly realized the obstacles were too great, so they decided to build a brand-new home.
Georgia Toney of BuilderPlanWorks drew up plans for a home with wide hallways and doors, easily-accessible appliances and bath facilities and other wheelchair-friendly features. It took a long time to find the right lot, secure permits and solicit companies to provide products and services, but the project eventually broke ground in April, 2008.
Using donated labor and materials, and just $27,000 in cash raised through fundraisers, the group was able to build a 2,404-square-foot home valued at nearly $400,000 for the Armstrong family in just nine months.
Jordy Tupper of G. Tupper III Construction, a third-generation custom builder from Summerville, S.C., volunteered as the project manager. "We started during the housing boom, and when the economy fell off a cliff, it was so inspiring to see how many people kept their promises to get this house built," he said.
Another member of the association, Wes Miranda of Eastcoast Flooring, donated and installed hardwood flooring throughout the home by himself, working almost non-stop for two days, even though his business was suffering and he was supplementing his income with landscaping work, said Ford.
The family was thrilled with their new home.
Carol wrote on her blog, “Every time I roll through this house (several times a day) I am filled with the uttermost appreciation for all the work that went into its construction and design.”
Not everyone in the family is completely happy with the home’s design, however. “Carol e-mailed me the other day that she’s all up in the kids’ business now — she hadn’t been able to see how messy their rooms were for six years,” said Melissa Villegas, director of communications and marketing for the CTHBA.
The experience was a welcome escape from the harsh realities of the recession for the many builder and contractor volunteers.
"It was so rewarding that when I get my company back on its feet someday, I want to hire someone to run the business so I can get out there hands-on and help people like the Armstrong family full-time," said Tupper.
For more information about the Carol's Home Project and the industry professionals who donated products or services, click here.
To read about the community service projects of other NAHB members, go to www.nahb.org/communityservice.