Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity building first Shutesbury home

  • Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity volunteer Bill Ruh, future homeowner Chuck Moore, and Habitat volunteers Judith Souweine and John Rankin raise a wall at the Shutesbury project site on West Pelham Road. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity volunteers Judith Souweine and Bill Ruh, and future homeowner Chuck Moore, raise an interior wall at the Shutesbury project site on West Pelham Road. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/30/2020 12:43:30 PM

SHUTESBURY — When he was out plowing streets in late winter as a part-time laborer for the Shutesbury Highway Department, Chuck Moore regularly passed by the building lot at 262 West Pelham Road being cleared to make way for his new home.

Moore, a mechanic by trade but facing financial challenges that forced him to move in with his mother in Montague, said he is grateful to be selected as the homeowner for Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity’s first Shutesbury project.

“It’s still bewildering to me,” said Moore, who will be joined full-time at the home by his older daughter Abigail, 15, and on weekends and other occasions by his younger daughter Evelyn, 13. “I never in my wildest dreams thought me and my family would get picked.”

Moore was chosen through a lottery system and the project is becoming more real as construction on the two-story, three-bedroom dwelling, that will be the 48th home built by Habitat, gets underway.

After clearing the 1.65-acre lot, community volunteers and Moore, who will be doing sweat equity at the site, earlier this month raised the walls of the 1,300-square-foot home.

The home, Moore said, is about 10 minutes from Amherst and is a reasonable drive to stores in Athol and Orange. He added that his daughters will appreciate no longer having to share a bedroom and a bunk bed, and that they will like the rural surroundings.

“My kids love the woods,” Moore said.

Due to the pandemic, there is uncertainty about how soon the Moore family will be able to move in, but likely sometime in 2021, said Habitat Executive Director Megan McDonough.

“We currently have a small group of regular volunteers working on the job site under new pandemic safety protocols for outdoor work,” McDonough said. “We continue to monitor public health guidance as we set policy for working on this home and two other homes under construction in Northampton.”

The home, which will sell for $175,000 or less, is designed by Amherst architect Bruce Coldham, and has the potential to reach zero net energy with the installation of solar panels by Pioneer Valley Photovoltaic.

Each homeowner selected for a Habitat project has to contribute 250 hours of labor and gets to purchase the home with an affordable mortgage. Habitat then uses the perpetual legacy from the mortgage funds to reinvest in future projects.

The Shutesbury home was supported by the town, with voters at the 2019 Annual Town Meeting appropriating $28,000 from the Community Preservation Act account to purchase the land.

“For me, it’s been a fantastic experience,” Moore said. “The whole process has been very easy to deal with.”

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