Greater Cleveland Habitat’s First Rehab House, 2137 W. 81st


    Our Habitat crew was chosen for the first Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity Rehabilitation house.  Located on the near westside between Lorain Ave. and Franklin Ave., it was located in a better neighborhood, as evidenced by its surrounding houses.  There were other abandoned and boarded-up houses on the street, but not to the extent as on the eastside.

    We were told in 2007 that when we finished the house on E. 79th, that we would be going to the rehab. But it needed to have the foundation firmed up and GCHFH didn’t have the cash available to do that.  So we went back to E. 110 to help another crew on another house, until the rehab was finally ready for us, in August 2009.

    The MAJOR problem with a rehab house is the uncertainty of what you’ll find, as well as having to invent the wheel with everything you do.  This one-family house had been previously made into a rental and a stairwell had been inserted.  We needed to remove that stairwell and create a new one, more user-friendly to a one-family situation.  And every person involved had his/her idea about the ideal location for it, delaying progress.

    Another adjustment was that the house was built when 2x4’s were literally that dimension, meaning that we had to add thicknesses to our current 2x4’s to make seams fit.  The house also had 9 ft. ceilings, not the current 8’, meaning that all our walls made with 8’ studs had to be added to in order to reach the ceilings.



the walls surrounding the former 2nd floor stairway entry, before their removal

The back half of the foundation of the house had been professionally firmed up, but the front needed it also.

Our first day’s impression

Are we sure we wanna work in here??

The attic that will never get used, too weak of a flooring
The basement doesn’t inspire confidence either.  Below, volunteers from WalMart shovel dirt into the front to fill and insulate and prevent moisture from creeping into the house.
Some existing walls have to be removed (above), while below a stairway is removed and then the floor is filled in with joists.
In other places, the floor just simply needs to be reinforced.
Holes must be cut into the existing floor, side walls built and the landing built before the actual stairs go in.  To the right is what greeted us at the top of the newly created stairs: an existing support wall that couldn’t be removed until the upstairs rooms’ walls were in place.
Below, left and right, upstairs rooms being created.
Adjustments made for insecure flooring and 8’ vs. 9’ ceilings.
Getting to the back of the house for the generator and other supplies sometimes posed difficulties, which of course got resolved the Habitat way: stepping stones of ingenuity.
Below, notice how the incoming electric line (to the right of the porch roof below ) does not connect to the electrical box and lines into the house (to the left of the porch).  And we paid these professionals???
Amazing what some tender loving care can do to turn a house into a home!!
This just LOOKS like a window; it’s really painted plywood.

Update April 2012: 

    Monique, the mother of 4 at this house, has been evicted for lack of mortgage payments, and reports say that the inside is pretty trashed.