Volunteering with Pittsburgh Habitat for Humanity – Sharpsburgh Rehab

After talking about volunteering our time together with Habitat for some time, Angela put the hammer down (pun) and signed us up for work on Saturday, 12/28 in Sharpsburgh.  Eliz volunteered at the same house the Saturday before and enjoyed herself.  We are not sure if others enjoyed their time around her.

We spent a solid 6 hours busting our butts and enjoyed the process and results.   The house is 100+ years old and is currently being changed from a multi-unit to a single family dwelling.  The 7 person (5 children) family to inhabit the house have been refugees (foreign) for much of their lives.

Although many people come to volunteer their time with habitat with great intentions, you cannot control the “quality” of work or experience level of each person.  If you are skilled and care about your work, or are OCD, you will do your best work no matter where you are.  Angela is that way.  And she did a lot of going to back to fix spots others missed… and she let me know how much it drove her nuts.  Which in turn makes me smile with pride.

Angela, despite what this photo shows, spent most of her day painting in her masterful way.   Here she is trying to move drywall from the house to our car and got caught…  Haha.


My day was spent working with the site foreman (Andrew) in carefully removing damaged sections of the hardwood strip flooring.  See Photo evidence of me actual doing work and not just telling my family what to do!  Because of the cost of replacing hardwood, it does not make financial sense for Habitat (or the family) to replace the whole floor for a few bad sections.  As a result, we spent about 4 hours cutting, chiseling, and prying up boards in a 4 foot deep x 6 foot wide section.   We selected which boards to remove so we could piece the new lumber in place and create a continuous floor.  By the end of the day we had installed about 1/2 the flooring in the section and it fit together fairly well.  The entire floor will be sanded and sealed after construction is complete so any  small gaps (filled with wood putty) will be blended with the rest of the floor.  The most difficult part was fitting the Tongue and Groove sections together tightly.  This required one person pulling a current a section of boards against the already set floor via a chisel or pry bar while the other set the nails into the new board.  This was done with a manual flooring nailer, which is a blast to use and sets nails in place right each time compared to a pneumatic or electric nailer.  The downside is that it takes more time per nail to install.  Overall,  a meticulous task but it was fun to work with Andrew and see a nice finished product.


Post work, dirty and sweaty, we are smiling because we get to leave all the tools, materials and mess behind!  A welcome change from our construction zone of a house.


If you want more info about volunteering in the steel city, check out these links.

Pittsburgh Habitat Website

Pittsburgh Habitat Facebook Page



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