The Northern Virginia Chapter (NOVA) of the American Society of Home Inspectors has been delivering special holiday gifts since its inception 10 years ago. Donations to local housing programs have topped $6,000. In addition to monetary support for fixing up homes owned by the elderly, disabled, and low income just outside Washington D.C., chapter members have volunteered more than 700 hours of labor working on 36 homes. Projects ranged from routine maintenance, such as cleaning gutters, repairing screens, and painting to safety improvements like installing smoke alarms, bathroom grab bars, and in one case a 40-foot, full ADA-compliant access ramp. (Photo: NOVA ASHI home inspectors pause during work at the home of an elderly Arlington, Virginia couple. Left to right: Tom Romero, Tom Murley, Richard Jackson, Brad Tyree, and George Pettie.)
Hundreds of program applicants are screened by a non-profit organization. The larger and more routine projects are set-aside for “Rebuilding Together,” a national program that holds a “housing blitz” each year on the last Saturday in April.
Some projects are either too urgent to wait until April or may only need a small team of workers to accomplish. These are available for volunteer groups to work on throughout the year and are known locally as “Hearts and Hammers” projects.
NOVA ASHI has worked on both the large and small projects; however, since home inspection demand is heavier during the spring, the chapter gets many more volunteers to work during the fall. The work underscores the chapter’s commitment to safety, and it fosters a holiday spirit as projects are completed during the Thanksgiving and Yuletide holiday season.
Past project highlights
One Arlington, VA homeowner is partially disabled. The retired public school custodian and his wife, a former grocery store employee, are in their 60s, and have lived in their 1940s era duplex 23 years. House captain Richard Jackson and his team of four home inspectors installed a pressure-treated lumber fence on a sunny Saturday this past November. The team also reinforced a stair handrail and closet hardware and repaired electric outlets and a flue pipe. (Photo: Team members involved in ramp construction at the home of a disabled Falls Church, VA homeowner included David Drewry, Steve Giesen, Bob Dahms, Fred Heppner, and Mark Drewry.)
A widowed Alexandria, VA resident who lived in her home for 42 years, had depended on her husband to take care of their home. House captain John Spinello and two other inspectors (top photo) arrived on a rainy Fall day in 2002 and started in on a job list of drywall repairs, interior painting, and correcting some electrical defects. Because the weather prevented completion of an outdoor task, Spinello came back to finish it another day.
A homeowner from Falls Church, Virginia was in her 70s when she became confined to a wheel chair. After coordinating with both the family and county permit officials, chapter volunteers spent a weekend in 1998 building a new access ramp for her. (Photo: Front view of the finished ramp in Falls Church. Overall material costs were $904. It took approximately 75 manhours to design, coordinate permits, and construct the ramp. Since NOVA ASHI was formed in 1993, the chapter has contributed $6,000 and over 700 volunteer hours toward local community housing rehabilitation projects.)
“Hearts and Hammers” is administered by the chapter Public Relations Committee. For more information about chapter involvement, contact the program coordinator, Steve Giesen or public relations coordinator, Bob Dahms.