Day 1: A Community Project

Building a house is an enormous undertaking. And one community-based effort is now under way in Maryland, sponsored by Habitat for Humanity.

"It's an amazing effort when you see how many people get involved at the community level," reports CBS News Home Improvement Contributor Bob Vila.

Before The Early Show started following the house's progress, volunteers and the future homeowner, Mary McGhee, had already completed not only the foundation but had put together the first-floor deck, by starting some two weeks before.

Linda Gray, director for Habitat for Humanity chapter in Anne Arundel County, says 35 houses have already been completed for families with few resources.

"Our families are chosen based on need. They live in structurally unsound or inadequate housing and must have the ability to pay a small mortgage," Gray says.

But McGhee of Lothian, Md., was not only chosen because of her income, she had to partner with Habitat by earning "sweat equity hours." In fact, she just finished her 500 hours last week, Gray adds.

McGhee devoted her own time to helping others and it took her about a year to complete her hours.

More News

To obtain financing, Habitat affiliates raise the money locally, Gray says.

"We've been very lucky with this house and received a lot of local services, as well as national withÂ…Whirlpool, Andersen Windows, products that made this house happen," adds Gray.

Next year seven to 10 houses will be built in Anne Arundel County, she says.

Architect John Allegretti had to come up with a house that would be not only affordable but also energy efficient.

"The plan had to adapt to a nontraditional lifestyle pattern of older and younger generations. So what we did initially was look at how we could zone these areas," Allegretti explains.

Four generations will be living in the house. According to Allegretti's design, they will have a communal room as well as private space.

And from the point of view of putting together a building, project manager R.B. Belch says the key is coordination from the beginning.

In fact the ceiling panels are about to be installed. This means all the side panels are in place.

So the next day the crew will have to deal with windows and doors and discuss energy issues.

©1999 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved