Garnett Construction Proud to Sponsor its Third Habitat House
As the owner of Garnett Construction, Wade Garnett builds million-dollar homes and dazzling additions, but nothing quite compares to the feeling he gets handing over the keys to a first-time homebuyer at a Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg dedication ceremony.
“It gives me chills,” says Garnett, a graduate of Hampton High School and Old Dominion University. “It takes so much blood, sweat and hard work for them to get to that point.”
The Seaford resident started Garnett Construction in 2004 after a 24-year career as a mechanical engineer at Newport News Shipyard. In addition to homes and remodels, Garnett Construction can replace a roof, design a kitchen, bathroom or pool house, install siding or spray foam installation or essentially handle any home construction or design project.
Aside from volunteering a handful of times at Habitat construction sites, Garnett didn’t know much about the nonprofit until he met Janet V. Green, CEO of the Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg Habitat affiliate at a board meeting of a local builder’s association. Both are proponents of affordable housing.
Green explained the details of the Habitat Homebuyer Program, and they intrigued Garnett.
Applicants approved to buy homes from Habitat must have good credit, steady employment and be willing to log hundreds of sweat equity hours by volunteering at site builds or at the Habitat ReStores in either Newport News or Williamsburg. They agree to pay back a zero-interest mortgage over a period of 20 to 30 years to Habitat. Those funds are cycled back into the community so more Habitat homes can be built.
“Like everybody else, I thought they gave away homes, and they don’t,” Garnett said. “I really like the idea of what they call a ‘hand-up’ rather than a handout. It’s a great business model.”
Garnett Construction has sponsored and constructed two homes for Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg and is at work on a third that Garnett anticipates will be complete by February 2023. In addition to donating the lumber, framing, cabinetry and many of the other building supplies, Garnett Construction provides the crew.
It’s a massive commitment — it takes $125,000 to build a Habitat house — as Garnett Construction is currently juggling 20 additional projects. Garnett has met the future homeowner and added some special touches on her behalf.
Typically, Habitat homes have carpet. This one will have luxury vinyl plank flooring as the new homeowner has a dog. “I let her pick out a floor color, cabinet color and countertop color,” Garnett said.
Garnett would love to attract more local builders and sponsors to discover what he has.
“It feels good to give back to your community,” he said.
Of course, Garnett certainly understands not everyone can fund an entire house, but he stresses that any donation — monetary or construction supplies — can help support Habitat’s mission of creating homes, communities and hope.
Firehouse Subs and Suttle Motor Company each made contributions to the current home he is working on in Williamsburg. As always, Ferguson donated all the plumbing products, and CVP Windows & Doors provided the windows and doors.
An aside, Garnett donates any unused supplies to the Habitat ReStores, where he also shops himself given the surplus of contracting supplies that are regularly in stock. All profits from the ReStores, which sell new and gently used items, including appliances, go toward the Habitat mission.
Garnett looks forward to hosting what he calls a community day, a time when the eventual homeowner and her extended family and friends can volunteer at the site build to help with painting, cleaning, small construction tasks and landscaping. He supplies lunch and makes sure everyone is comfortable with the assigned work.
As a custom builder, Garnett is accustomed to designing dream homes for customers who maintain multiple residences. Habitat homes are standard, yet when he sees the reaction of the homeowner during the dedication, he can’t hide just how emotional it is. Inside he feels, “This is the best house I’ve ever built.”
For the family that will live there, a place to call home means everything.