Here are some articles alleging poor construction from Habitat for Humanity:

The road to hell is paved with good intentions — and, apparently, the homes in the neighborhoods along that hellish path are built by Jimmy Carter and Habitat for Humanity. The Times of London reports on one of the celebrity charity’s biggest showcase projects in Jacksonville, Florida, Fairway Oaks, where residents claim their houses are crumbling due to shoddy construction)

Malkin goes on to suggest many, but not all, of the complaints were exaggerated.

Houses constructed for victims of massive floods in Mindanao last December are showing signs of breaking down less than four months after the beneficiaries moved in.

Residents of a relocation site in Canitoan village in Cagayan de Oro City are complaining of substandard materials and sloppy construction work by building contractors. The houses were built for the government by Habitat for Humanity.

Some people have wondered whether Habitat hires night crews to fix the shoddy work done by volunteers during the day. I have heard it from more sources, but sadly can't find them now.

I met someone this past weekend who told me something interesting about his experience volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.

He used the example of framing a wall for a house. He said there were cases where a group of volunteers will spend the day framing the wall with hammers and nails, go home feeling good about their accomplishment, and then Habitat for Humanity will have the wall frame torn down so a professional can build it again to meet building code standards.

Does Habitat for Humanity hire professional crews to clean up the work done by the volunteers, or do volunteers produce work that can stand on its own?

  • Sounds like you have two questions: 1) do volunteers do shoddy work, and 2) does H4H have to swallow the cost of shoddy work by hiring "professionals"? – warren Mar 21 '14 at 19:42
  • The volunteers are an assortment of lifestyles, but most of the workers(volunteers) are in the construction field. I've seen some of the homes built and they are put together better than the ones built by the construction companies. – HasH_BrowN Oct 25 '14 at 2:25
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    In my experience, the professionals are there while the volunteers are working and volunteers typically do meanial jobs that are hard to screw up. The professionals keep an eye on everything and it's not "fixed later" it's fixed immediately. – Jasmine Dec 9 '14 at 20:38
  • Isn't it the case on all sorts of construction projects that (a) unskilled labour is used, and (b) occasionally a piece of construction will not be right, will fail a quality check, and need to be redone? – Oddthinking Mar 31 '15 at 23:11
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    I've met a few people who volunteered for H4H, and they indeed the mostly the hard to mess up jobs. Think stirring buckets of plaster and mortar, putting together temporary wooden frames to support wall segments until they can stand on their own, things like that. – jwenting Apr 1 '15 at 4:03

So, in order to answer this question, I actually asked my father, who happens to work for Habitat For Humanity in NJ. While this cannot be considered definitive for all Habitat branches, it at least speaks to what I believe to be the norm. What follows is his quote in entirety:

Work is done by volunteers under close supervision. I had to rebuild a closet in Newark that I built with another equally unskilled volunteer because we did it wrong but was fine once we left.

Morris Habitat has big group of "Friday faithful" many of whom are either retired construction people or had long experience doing their own work. They are better than most workers on commercial efforts.

If Habitat had to hire people very often they would never get projects done because the homeowner pays only a fraction of what a commercial build would cost.

We do hire but they are mostly specialists like licensed electricians and like since we only get licensed volunteers on occasion.

I think that second to last sentence is perhaps the most significant – Habitat would need to spend significantly more money and would simply be unable to afford to have commercial builders as a rule. While it is possible that some contributed work is thrown out and replaced, having that as normative behavior would make these projects cost-prohibitive.

  • On a side note: simply because it is done by professionals does not mean that it will not be subject to shoddy materials or poor workmanship... – cwallenpoole Apr 6 '15 at 21:10

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