Building Innovation for Homeownership
Award Winners: Illinois

PROJECT: Harambee Homes, Chicago, Illinois

SUBMITTER: Cynthia Cocchi, The Bigelow Group, Palatine, Illinois

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Harambee in Zwahili means Lets get together and push, which is the essence of this effort to house seven African American families in inner-city Chicago. The Harambee Homes Program assists low-income families to plan and build their own homes with technical guidance by Perry Bigelow, founder of the program (and who is also building a unit), and oversight by local church groups. This co-housing development includes units for the families and common living and dining areas. Each family is providing sweat equity in building the project, on land donated by the city. This brings the housing cost down to about $60,000. The homes incorporate a number of material-saving features such as 2x6 framing on 24-inch centers, two-stud corners, and single top plates. Shallow, frost- protected foundations eschew site excavation costs. The homes are super-insulated with R-25 walls and R-38 floors, and double-glazed low-emissivity windows. The tight, insulated construction allows Bigelow to offer a three-year warranty that fuel bills will not exceed $200 for the heating season. Construction is scheduled for completion by 1997.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: Perry Bigelow, President, Harambee Homes, Chicago, IL (developer); Isaiah Community Development Group, Chicago, IL; Lawndale Christian Development Corp., Chicago, IL; City of Chicago. Chrysalis Foundation of teh Home Builders Association of Chicago; Willliam Maybrook, Neal Hunter


PROJECT: Treehouse in the Woods, Round Lake, Illinois (Chicago metropolitan area)

SUBMITTER: Perry Bigelow, The Bigelow Group, Inc., Palatine, Illinois

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Treehouse in the Woods is an entry-level community of 220 townhomes on twenty heavily wooded acres in Round Lake, Illinois. The Bigelow, Group, Inc. combined environmental sensitivity and energy efficiency to develop and build this below median-priced community, five blocks from the METRA commuter train to Chicago and walking distance from community services. Over 80 percent of the 400 mature trees on the site were preserved through creative site planning and deliberate conservation during construction. Homes face landscaped courtyards with gazebos, trellised entries, and walking paths. Garages and driveways at the rear of the homes are accessed from motor courts. The 800 to 1530 square foot homes, priced from $99,900 to $134,000, include two or three bedrooms, double-garage, and front porch.

Heating costs for three years are guaranteed not to exceed $200 per year or Bigelow will pay the difference. Energy efficiency of the homes is based on the principle of synergy: the total heat reduction is greater than the reduction that could be gained by the individual components. Components include such as: 2 x 6-inch studs and optimum value engineering (OVE) framing techniques to reduce lumber costs and increase insulation space; R-25 wall and R-38 attic and floor insulation; combination high-efficiency water/space heater; florescent hall and bath fixtures and exterior photocells; air sealing; continuous bath ventilation; and soffits and plenums in joist space instead of ductwork.

Bigelow offers several financing assistance packages for first-time homebuyers, including payment of the difference between a buyer's first year rent and mortgage expenses.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: Perry Bigelow, The Bigelow Group, Palatine, IL (builder/developer); Hank Bauer, Midland Landscape, East Dundee, IL; Dana Stillson, Midwest Forestree Products, Prairie View, IL; Chuck Stewart, Urban Forest Management, Fox River Grove, IL; James Lumber, Village of Round Lake, IL (Mayor).


Content Archived: January 20, 2009