Earlier this month, the Town of Dryden Zoning Board of Appeals approved the Tompkins County Habitat for Humanity’s (TCHFH) variance request to construct two new homes, along with the renovation of one home at 1932 Slaterville Rd.
According to Executive Director Shannon MacCarrick, TCHFH purchased the three acres of land in December. The variance will allow TCHFH to subdivide the three acres into three separate one-acre lots. Two new homes will be built in two of the three lots, while the third lot will have the original house located at that address.
MacCarrick said the parcel was a perfect fit for TCHFH’s plan.
“It was enticing to us because it was a big enough land that you could get more than just one house out of it,” MacCarrick said. “It’s also fairly close to Ithaca. Technically, it’s in the Town of Dryden, but it’s [close to] the Ithaca schools and it’s not far up [Route] 79. That’s a pretty convenient spot for the home buyers that we talked to, who live in Ithaca now or work in Ithaca and shop in Ithaca.”
Ray Burger, the Director of Planning for the Town of Dryden, said the project will bring diverse housing to the community.
“There’s not a lot of this type of housing coming in,” Burger said. “A lot of the building we see is much larger. So having these smaller homes that have a lot of other ways of reducing their living costs by having shorter commutes and things like that, that’s what truly makes it affordable. It’s wonderful that we can bring in some of these projects.”
MacCarrick said the house currently on the property dates back to the early-to-mid 1800s and is in need of some major renovations.
“The first thing that we’ve already begun to do is remove the asbestos from that house,” she said. “The asbestos is gone. We’re starting to gut the inside of that property.”
“The next step is to shore up the foundation so that we’re on solid footing, and then we’ll start to do the real work on the inside,” she added.
MacCarrick said the house currently on the property will be a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home with more square footage compared to the two new homes, which will be ranch style with three bedrooms, one bathroom and an open kitchen area, totaling at about 1,100 square feet. The two new houses will not have full garages but will have sheds to store a vehicle. The original house has a full garage, which will be renovated as well.
“We are going to start to dig foundations and begin to build as soon as we can, as long as the weather is cooperating,” she said of the two new homes. “With any luck, we’ll be building this month, if not definitely the next month. We’ll be digging and getting the foundations in. We’ll start construction of those pretty soon, and the goal is to get those closed in before the fall, and then through the rest of the year and the beginning of 2020 we’ll be working on the insides of all three homes and finishing them up.”
Based on past projects involving the construction of three-bedroom ranch style homes, MacCarrick said she expects the construction of the two new homes to cost between $70,000 and $75,000 in cash costs, although those are usually lowered through volunteer labor as well as donated and discounted materials from local vendors and contractors.
She said she is unsure of how much the renovation will cost since TCHFH has not renovated a house before.
“I won’t be surprised if it’s comparable to what it costs us to do new build just because of the size of the home,” she said. “But that’s sort of an experiment for us. The initial asbestos was a costly start. We’ll see how it goes.”
MacCarrick said TCHFH hopes to have all three homes completed and have the families purchasing and moving into those homes by spring of next year. She said sale prices are not set yet because they usually depend on the family that is interested in the homes.
“We guarantee affordability to our families,” she said. “We look at the household incomes for the home buyer, and then we set the sale price based on 30 percent of that.”
She said TCHFH has just begun the search process for the families who will be living in the homes. TCHFH selects families based on whether they fall in between the 30 to 60 percent range of area median income. The organization also meets and talks with families to better understand their living situations. TCHFH typically assists families who currently live in housing that is either unaffordable, overcrowded, severely damaged among other situations.
MacCarrick said having three affordable properties will be a major benefit to the community.
There’s a serious shortage of affordable housing in Ithaca right now,” she said. “It’s not even just Ithaca. It’s the surrounding communities. There’s lots of families that would like to live in the city, but really it’s the towns surrounding it, too. For us, it’s exciting that instead of just being able to bring one unit of affordable housing, we’re bringing three.”