Andrew Campeau and Gary Vogt from Plumbers & Steamfitters Local #11 out of Duluth, Minn. add plumbing to a Habitat for Humanity home in Sandstone on Saturday, July 10. The organization sends volunteer to help on several projects, including Loaves and Fishes houses in Duluth and Make a Wish Foundation project in Kerrick, Minn. Campeau said Caldwell Plumbing, Heating and A.G. O’Brien and JAMAR donated the tools and time to the Sandstone project as well.


A home is more than a building. It is a place of safety, a place to raise a family, make memories and dream of the future. Two families will receive homes later this fall in Sandstone.

Habitat for Humanity began construction on the three bedroom, two bathroom homes earlier this spring.

Tara Laursen, 42, is excited to finally have a home of her own. She was forced to sell her previous house due to divorce. She said this is the first home she will own on her own. 

The families are required to put in 265 hours of sweat equity in the building of the home, said Wayne Eller, executive director for East Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity.

Laursen said she is looking forward to bringing her daughters and helping in any way possible. Two of her four children will be living with her in the home down the street from where she grew up. 

Eller said the projects are about a month behind schedule, which is unusual. 

“The biggest challenge is the rising cost of materials,” said Eller. “The price of lumber is up 240-300 percent.” 

Eller explained many people think the homes are given to the families free of charge. That’s not true. Some work, such as the plumbing and electrical, is done by both contractors who need to be paid and volunteers. 

There is also the cost of materials. The family purchases the home on a no interest, no profit loan, which means they only pay for the amount the organization has into the house. The owners are required to live in the home until it is paid for in full. If they move out before the house is paid off, they are still required to pay the mortgage in full. 

“We try every way we can to save money and pass that on to the families,” Eller said. He said the Challenge Incarceration Program out of Willow River sends volunteers to help work on homes in the area. He said he is impressed with the quality of their work.

The organization builds between one to four homes in a normal year. They did not build any in 2020 due to the pandemic. They rely on fundraising, donated materials, local churches and use the money from previous HH house loan payments to build the homes and keep them affordable.

In normal times, Whirlpool donates a new stove and refrigerator for each house. This year they are able to donate a stove and a microwave.

“If anyone wants to donate a housewarming gift, a refrigerator would be nice,” Eller said.

He hopes the families can be in their new homes by Thanksgiving. There will be a house blessing when the projects are completed. The blessings are open to the public.

Laursen said she is looking forward to the stability of having her own home again.

“I’ve been praying for our very own home for a long time,” Laursen said. “I feel that God is answering my prayers and am so thankful for this opportunity.


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