Montezuma County Habitat for Humanity

From Utah our destination was Cortez, Colorado where we were signed up to build for 2 weeks with Montezuma County Habitat for Humanity. As the only two RV Care-a-vanners that signed up for the build, Tom and I worked most days alone with the Supervisor Dan on the house for future homeowner Janet and her 2 daughters but whenever Janet had a few hours off from work she cheerfully joined us, and on one day we had a local volunteer show up to help lay the laminate in the kitchen too. Still, it was delightfully low-key and a welcome change from the hectic, multi-house jobsite in Las Cruces; it obviously also had something to do with me not being in charge of anything while I was there, but despite my having to step away occasionally from the tasks I was doing in order to do some remote work we had a lovely, relaxing 2 week build.

I daresay it was a productive build too: we began our first workday painting interior walls – where I once again proved that I am incapable of doing so without getting paint in my hair – and ended on our last day making window sills for the almost-complete house. In between we spent about 4 days flooring, first installing the very same Pergo-brand laminate we had used in 4 out of the 5 houses in Las Cruces earlier in the year (or, I should say, Tom had used since all I do in Las Cruces is boss people around) and then laying down peel-and-stick vinyl “tile” in the wet areas – laundry, bathroom, and kitchen. It was my first time using this vinyl product and supervisor Dan didn’t have much experience with it either making me very cautious with the placement and trying to make sure I had optimal contact with the plywood beneath. I happily volunteered to do it however since laying flooring is one of my favorite things and I was eager to try out a new product. I was pleased with the final outcome but I sure am glad it’s cost effective enough for us to use real tile in New Mexico since I still have concerns about the longevity of the adhesive.

While I worked on the vinyl flooring Tom and Dan got started on painting and then installing trim moulding around the doors; by Monday we all started on floor trim. Because Tom is better at floor moulding than I am and it’s one of his favorite tasks in building houses I volunteered to follow the two of them caulking and I clattered along on my kneepads through the rooms, alternating that with nailsetting and puttying the freshly-installed baseboard. Whenever I caught up to them I switched to doing the same for the door trim they’d worked on last week and we moved pretty seamlessly around the house in a clockwise direction. Overall I think this system where they installed and I finished worked out best for all of us, and it turned out to be pretty efficient to boot.

As the two of them moved on to hanging closet doors I finished up the remaining caulking and then we all worked together to do some touchups. On our last day we handmade windowsills out of some nice pine Dan had purchased – a first for me. As an avid woodworker Dan did a wonderful job of leading me through the steps in their production but I admit to being a little frustrated with myself for not producing a perfect final product. Tom, who was caulking the sills, said that after my first one that the end result was indistinguishable from Dan’s but I really am more of a framing-type of girl and feel pretty strongly that I should leave the woodwork to others until I can get a few more years of practice.

As I said, our 2 weeks building with Montezuma County Habitat was relaxing but it was also thoroughly enjoyable as well as rewarding. Dan is a very kind person and extremely easy to get along with; our conversations while working together were both pleasant and interesting. Homeowner Janet was equally great – friendly, eager to learn, and clearly determined. We would have stayed to help finish the house in a heartbeat had I not had a work training in central Colorado that Monday and were we not expected to arrive at Tom’s niece’s house the day before. But though we couldn’t stay we do plan on returning to build with the affiliate, and hope we have the pleasure of building with another wonderful homeowner.