Newlyweds Kyle and Melissa Lohr have been living in Melissa’s childhood bedroom in Hampton Bays with six relatives and their pets, but this week, thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk, they’re beginning work on their own new home.
Kyle, 24, is a dietary aide at Peconic Bay Medical Center and Melissa, 20, is an environmental services aide at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital.
The couple, who married in March, had been approved for a $100,000 mortgage, but couldn’t find anything they could buy in that price range, and balked when they realized they wouldn’t be able to afford property taxes and insurance on top of that mortgage. But with a Habitat house, they will never pay more than 30 percent of their income toward their new mortgage.
Melissa heard through one of her father’s friends, who lives in a Habitat house, that the Middle Island-based chapter of the worldwide housing non-profit was looking for applications for the house in East Quogue, and the couple quickly put in an application.
Wednesday morning, wearing hard hats, boots and nail aprons, the two took the first steps toward putting in 300 hours of sweat equity toward their new home.
It’s not the first time Melissa has done a construction project, but it matters to her that when she’s finished, the building will be her own.
“When I was younger, I helped rebuild a barn at Spring Water Horse Farm. It was a really cool learning experience,” she said.
The house they will be moving into, on Ocean Avenue, will be a complete gut renovation. It came to Habitat through Wells-Fargo REO, which took back the house from a prior owner who didn’t pay the mortgage, said Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk Director of Development Les Scheinfeld.
This is an unusual situation for the local Habitat chapter — of 185 houses they’ve built or renovated here, 95 percent of the properties have been given to Habitat through Suffolk County’s 72H Land Transfer Program, which gives tax-defaulted properties to local towns, said Mr. Scheinfeld.
“The condition was not good, but it was structurally sound enough, and we shored up the foundation,” he said of the block-and-brick one-and-a-half story building. “When you come back in eight months, you’ll see a brand new house. This is not your typical Habitat build. It’s more deconstruction and reconstruction.”
The project is being helped along by a whole-house sponsorship of $100,000 from Riverhead Building Supply, whose owner, Edgar Goodale, along with his family and RBS employee volunteers, plan to offer hands-on help building the home, after supporting Habitat for almost 30 years.
Kyle and Melissa said they haven’t seen blueprints of what the house will look like when it’s finished, but just the fact that it will be theirs fills them with excitement. They’ve been driving down Ocean Avenue to peek at the property nearly every day since they learned they were accepted into the program, and have already scoped out the stores and restaurants they’d like to frequent when this becomes their new neighborhood.
“We have so many friends who live here. It’s a nice town, and it’s close to everything,” said Melissa.