Frequently Asked Questions for Homeownership

How long will it take for me to get a home?

The whole process from application to move in may take up to 18 months. There are many factors involved with getting your home: available land, sweat equity hours, specific needs, etc. We are committed to getting you in your home as quickly as possible and in return we appreciate your hard work and patience.

How does a Habitat mortgage work?

Habitat's home ownership program is unique in two ways: (1) Habitat sells houses at the cost of materials plus real estate without adding in profit; 2) Habitat provides the money to buy the house without charging interest. The no-interest mortgage is significant because a loan from a commercial bank adds interest payments, which more than doubles the "cost" of the home to the buyer. Our policy is that families should repay their mortgages as fast as they are able. A typical mortgage is 15 years.  Mortgages may be extended to 20 or even 25 years in order to keep payments affordable.  There is no penalty to the buyer for paying off the mortgage ahead of schedule – though other restrictions may remain in place for the entire original mortgage period.

Do I get to choose where I live?

Lots are offered as they become available. We have built homes in all parts of Bloomington, so there is no guarantee where your lot will be. You have the option of refusing the first lot offered to you, but you will be asked to reapply to the program if you turn down a second lot offering.

Who pays to build each house?

Habitat works with faith communities, businesses, and other organizations and individuals to sponsor the building of a house. Such sponsors contribute a fee that goes towards buying materials for the house.  Typically, sponsoring organizations also volunteer skilled and unskilled workers to build the house they sponsor, together with the prospective Habitat homeowners. Once an affiliate has built 20 houses, the monthly mortgage payments from those 20 families are sufficient to build an additional house each year. Thus, as mortgage payments are recycled, homeowners also sponsor Habitat houses. Other funding comes from grants and individual donations.

How can I earn sweat equity hours?

The primary way to earn sweat equity hours is by working at construction sites. At least half of your hours must be completed on site. Additional hours may be earned by working in the Habitat office, attending Habitat classes, helping at ReStore, and attending special events. New ideas to earn sweat equity are always welcome but must be approved ahead of time by the appropriate committee or by the Board at large. At a minimum, each adult member must complete four hours a month. A friend may donate up to 50 hours towards a family’s sweat equity.

What are homeowner classes?

An important part of preparing Partner Families for the responsibilities and potential pitfalls of homeownership are the classes that Monroe County Habitat for Humanity provides. There are at least three series of classes on the topics of Habitat Philosophy and Partnership, Financial Planning, and Home Maintenance and Neighborhood Development. Partner families are expected to attend these classes (counted towards sweat equity hours).

How big will my house be?

House size depends on the number of family members who will be living there. The following is the maximum square footage for each house size: 900 square feet for a two-bedroom house, 1070 square feet for a three bedroom house, 1230 square feet for a four-bedroom house, and 1400 square feet for a five-bedroom house.  The square foot numbers describe living space not including stairwells, crawl space and exterior storage.

Do I have a choice about what goes into my home?

Habitat for Humanity is committed to building simple, decent, and affordable houses that will meet the needs of the homeowners.  

Floor Plan
The size of a Habitat house is determined by the number of family members. Habitat provides a standard floor plan for each size house, which might be adapted to meet special needs of the lot or particular considerations of the family.  All adjustments to floor plans are minimal and there is no guarantee that Habitat can meet all the desires of the family. 

There are some customizable choices for your home. Every homeowner can choose at no cost:

Vinyl siding and exterior door colors.
Roof shingle color.
Countertop colors for kitchen.
Phone and cable jack locations.
Carpeting and vinyl flooring selection.
If possible, some minimal changes to the basic floor plan. 

Customized Budget
In an effort to personalize and beautify the home while still staying true to Habitat’s mission of building “simple, decent, affordable housing” a family may choose to add custom options in combination up to $2000, which will be added to their mortgage. Examples of these options include: appliances, ceiling fans, landscaping, extra windows, air conditioning, etc.

Green Homes
In a further effort to ensure affordable housing, we have focused on building energy efficient homes. All of our homes are Energy-Star certified, and we are making steady progress towards even higher levels of green certification. This commitment helps not only the environment, but it also helps create sustained energy savings for our partner families.

You may contact the office for a comprehensive list of house features.

Does my house come with any warranties?

There is a one-year warranty on all work done by Habitat. This warranty excludes damage resulting from wear and tear.  There is also a one-year warranty on all subcontracted work such as plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling.

What if I need or want to sell my house?

We want to build homes for people to live in, not to sell and make a profit. We do have guidelines for selling your home, though. All of the details will be discussed during our homeowner meetings.