Rachel Gallion and her eight-year-old daughter Kennedy couldn’t contain smiles Saturday as they cut the ribbon on their newly refurbished home from Zion Community Development Corporation.
“I purchased the home about a year and a half ago and the plan was always to make it energy efficient,” said Gallion. “Some energy-efficient measures cost a little more, but they usually last a lot longer, which makes them cheaper in the long run. We’re just so excited.”
Zion began upgrading the house at 305 Lincoln St. last October as part of its Affordable Green Housing Initiative. It was the first refurbishing project by Zion, but the company has already built a brand new, solar powered home at 121 Smith St.
Another rehabilitation project at 138 Lincoln St. is planned for later this year.
“What we’re trying to do is provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing that’s not an insult to the plant, will improve the economic circumstances for the people living in the houses, and improve Oberlin’s housing stock,” said David Sonner, interim executive director at Zion. “This rehab project is the first of many.”
Michael Yates, Zion’s construction manager, said the rehab of the house was no easy task.
“The floor was completely rotted,” he said. “It was quite an involved process. We had to jack up the second floor to hold the structure steady as we took out supports. It’s very well insulated now and we’re proud of the finished product.”
New insulation was installed in the house’s foundation, walls, and attic. A new metal roof, high-efficiency mini-split heat pump system, and 40-gallon on-demand water heater were also put in.
“We couldn’t get the solar panels in here because of the trees,” said Sonner. “The new house on Smith Street does have the panels. It costs about $50 per month to lease the panels and typically the owner’s electric bill from Oberlin is only $3 per month.”
According to Zion, the average monthly energy cost for an Oberlin home is $270.35.
Many on hand called Zion’s former executive director, Alan Mitchell, “the brains behind the refurbishing project.”
He left the company in December to accept a position with the Richland County Foundation, but said he couldn’t resist coming back to see how the house had turned out.
“The cost of housing continues to plague people’s finances in Oberlin,” he said. “The cost of rental often exceeds the cost of ownership, especially in a smaller home. We wanted to come up with a way to make homes more sustainable and more affordable. People could afford these homes, but they couldn’t afford the cost of heating, cooling, and making them comfortable.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.