Couple feels blessed to help renovate home

Published 10:13 pm Wednesday, November 21, 2018

As Linda and Michael Fowler work with volunteers to renovate a home that will soon be theirs, they say that Covington County Habitat for Humanity has been a gift from God.

“We couldn’t have done anything without them,” Mrs. Fowler said.

The Fowlers’ home on Pugh Street will be the local Habitat’s eighth house. But it’s the first house the group of volunteers has renovated as opposed to building from the ground up.

Local Habitat organizer Dale Pancake said it’s been a learning process, but appears to be a cost-efficient one.

Habitat families are required to earn 300 sweat equity hours before they occupy their home. Each family must be able to provide these hours either directly or through friends, relatives, church family as a direct investment into their home. They are also required to make a very small monetary down payment.

Habitat builds the homes as economically as possible, and sells them to the new owners at cost. Families interested in qualifying for a Habitat home must document sufficient income to pay a monthly mortgage, which is typically in the range of $300 to $350 per month, including insurance and taxes.

The Fowlers’s home isn’t completed yet, but they’ve gone well beyond the required hours.

The couple has accumulated 400 sweat equity hours.

“Along with helping with the houses, we also took training classes that counted towards our sweat equity hours,” Fowler said. “We also took money management courses.”

The Fowlers have watched Habitat houses unfold before, including the local group’s seventh house.

“We saw the one in Florala go up just starting with a concrete slab,” Fowler said. “So when we got the opportunity to renovate a home, we jumped on it.”

Fowler has worked around renovating homes his entire life, so this is not foreign to him.

“I worked for Parker Metals for about 30 years,” Fowler said. “I have been around this carpentry work my entire life. This is something that I used to do when I worked.

The couple decided to jump head first into renovating their new home because they knew they would enjoy it.

“They offered it to us and we knew that we had to take it,” Fowler said. “We knew that it would be something we enjoyed doing. The thing about helping renovate is that we get to see every piece go where we want it.”

Pancake said the Fowlers have been amazing Habitat partners.

“They already have 400 sweat equity hours and that is more than enough than the minimum,” Pancake said. “They have been just amazing. I think they have done so much because they are just so excited to get in the new house.”

Fowler said that it has been a real joy being able to help with the renovation.

“We just really enjoy doing it,” Fowler said. “Just to see it from being gutted out to what we have left is pretty amazing.”

The couple has to finish the porch and then the outside of the house will be completely finished.

“We just hope we don’t run into any problems,” Fowler said. “Once we finish the porch then we will have all of the wiring, plumbing, sheet rocking and things like that to do in the inside.”

Mrs. Fowler said the home is a blessing.

“It has really been a gift from God,” she said. “Mr. Pancake has been a blessing as well. He takes time out of his day to help people that really need it and that is amazing.”