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Building a house in Taos

Building a House in Taos - Joan Livingston

Volunteers and sweat equity are key components to the homes built by Habitat for Humanity of Taos. That was true Friday and Saturday when crews of local women and some men worked on the Mares family’s home.

Habitat was celebrating the Sixth Annual National Women Build with a two-day opportunity to help construct an adobe home for Adriana Mares and her two children.

As the folks at Habitat say, owning a home through Habitat is not a handout but a hand up. There are certain requirements such as meeting income guidelines, being able to pay a mortgage and working 500 hours to help build the house (family can help).

The adobe walls for the home on Lamento del Coyote are up. Framing for the interior walls is in place. Saturday the crew worked on the wooden parapets and the roof over the portal — under the direction of Mark Trujillo, Habitat’s construction supervisor.

I could only give a Saturday morning, but many women volunteered the whole day or both days. Even two boys from the neighborhood pitched in.

It didn't matter the skill level, the people at Habitat found something volunteers could do: build adobe bricks, sand and seal boards, move material, measure, cut lumber, hammer, etc.

My first jobs were to set up scaffolding and make adobe bricks for the next house Habitat will build. The bricks require water, of course, plus five parts sand, seven parts clay soil, and one part straw, mixed in a wheelbarrow until the adobe was the right consistency, according to M., the name of the woman who instructed us.

I worked with the sister of the new homeowner, pushing and pulling a hoe through the heavy mixture, adding more clay dirt when needed, before filling a frame to form bricks.

Next I carried lumber to the two women who sanded boards.

Many of the volunteers who help build Habitat’s homes come from out of state such as church groups and college students. But Habitat welcomes local residents as well.

Want to volunteer? Visit to check its calendar or call Susan Nuss as (575) 758-7827.

Posted: Sunday, May 11, 2014 8:25 am | Updated: 8:49 am, Sun May 11, 2014.
© 2014 The Taos News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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