After a string of devastating tornadoes ripped apart several Birmingham area towns in April, many families have come face to face with the additional challenges involved with having to re-build their homes. Thousands of volunteers have come forward to lend their time and efforts, yet a few exceptional individuals have gone above and beyond in their efforts to help bring back more than just what was stolen. Kelly Watson, owner of Bluestone Building, is one such volunteer. After learning about the struggles facing one family in particular, the Burchfields of Pleasant Grove, Watson knew he could provide the family with more than just time and professional skills. He wanted to help them build a safer, healthier, and altogether greener home.
Having lost the entire structure of their home in the tornado, the Burchfields knew that re-building efforts would involve a tremendous and lengthy project, not to mention required expenses that were sure to go beyond their financial capabilities. When Watson offered them his contracting services free of charge, the Burchfields realized that they had been given a rare gift. “I have called Kelly our angel,” says Jamie Burchfield, who feels that a higher power intervened and led Watson to help them.
With Watson on the job the Burchfield’s are set to have more than just a new house. His plans for the home include installing many methods that work to promote overall energy efficiency throughout the entire house. Some examples include a programmable thermostat for heating and cooling, installing foil faced roof decking for reduced attic heat, and incorporating Energy Star lighting fixtures in every room, as well as Energy Star bath and ceiling fans throughout. Further more, in an effort to help reduce unnecessary water usage, the Burchfiled’s home will utilize high efficiency faucets and fixtures made by Water Sense, and dual flush water saving toilets.
Watson, who is also a certified LEED contractor (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) says, “building healthy and efficient homes is an important part of what we do to build a quality home.” Providing the means for overall improved indoor air quality is also high on Watson’s priority list. When it comes to the actual building process, Watson’s team is dedicated to separating and recycling as much construction waste as possible in an effort to divert fit from ending up in a nearby landfill. In addition to having green aspects, the Burchfield’s home will also feature a tornado-safe room to protect the family from possible future tornadoes.
Aside from an unexpected increase in costs for the foundation, after discovering poor soil conditions on the property, Watson says so far the project has gone relatively smooth. Now, nearly a month after breaking ground on the project, Watson credits the incredible network of people who’ve come to volunteer to the success of bringing the Burchfield’s home back to life. Services of all kinds have been provided from a variety of well known groups including, Habitat for Humanity and Discovery Communications. “Their being on site helped add media coverage to our project,” explains Watson. “This helped in great ways to remind everyone that there is still a lot of work to do, and there are many other families still in need of help.”
Watson’s efforts to rebuild the Burchfield’s home using smarter and greener practices is a fantastic example for others to follow. Yet, many people who want to donate their time and skills toward rebuilding the affected communities aren’t sure where to turn. Watson recommends calling churches, contacting city government officials such as Mayor’s office in the towns impacted, or reaching out to Habitat for Humanity. Even simply getting on the Internet and utilizing Google, is a good place to start he says. “I know there are many non-profit organizations that still need volunteers and donations,” he says, adding that he likes to use the line made famous by Nike, “just do it.”
When time lines aren’t met, or other construction related issues arise, Watson says remembering “the cause” is what helps keep him motivated. “The Burchfield’s are very excited and appreciative,” he says. This kind of commitment has greatly impressed both Shawn and Jamie Burchfield. He has dedicated just as much time and energy to building our home, as he would to any other project for which he’d be getting paid, says Jamie Burchfield of Watson. “He has even worked on weekends just to get things to come together.”
Set to be completed by mid November, Watson’s goal is to have the Burchfields moving into their new home in time to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. “This experience has taught us that there are great people in this world, says Jamie Burchfield. “I hope that once we get passed all of this we will be able to return the favor and help other families meet some of their needs as well.” For more information about Kelly Watson and Bluestone Building’s efforts to build environmentally-friendly and sustainable homes, please visit http://www.bluestonebuilding.