“When you buy a car,” said Terri, “at least you get an owner’s manual and the salesman shows you how to set the stations on the radio. But at my closing, the realtor and lawyer handed me the keys and that was it!”
Terri learned quickly how much she didn’t know about being a homeowner. She had no idea that she needed to change her furnace filter until after a costly repair visit from the HVAC repairman. She didn’t know how to winterize her home, who to call if she had an electrical problem or how do diagnose a leaky pipe.
Terri’s story is common. People who buy a home through conventional means receive no training. The fortunate ones have a friend or a relative who can show them the ropes, but many more are left adrift without any direction or do-it-yourself know-how.
“When I heard that Habitat home buyers receive in-depth training on how to be a successful homeowner, I thought, ‘Why hasn’t anyone offered that to people like me?'”
We heard you, Terri.
Introducing The Master Homeowner Program
Habitat for Humanity’s vision has always been a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Here in Kanawha and Putnam Counties we have been hard at work for 28 years building new houses for qualifying families, but we also recognize that there are a lot of people who are currently living in homes whose state of repair is on a downward spiral. Many people simply lack the skills and knowledge necessary to maintain their home, and many others do not understand the importance of doing so. It has become clear to us that in order to achieve our vision, not only do we need to continue to build new homes, but we need to address the deterioration of existing housing in our community.
To address the issue, Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam has developed the Master Homeowner program to empower homeowners in our community to be proactive and proficient in the basic skills that are required to maintain the condition and value of the largest investment in their lives. The program is designed to instruct and inform homeowners or those planning to become homeowners, in all areas necessary to be successful, healthy, lifelong homeowners.
The Master Homeowner Program is structured similarly to the widely acclaimed Master Gardener Program offered by the WVU Extension Service: a certificate program that features classroom instruction, and hands-on experience. Classes are taught by professionals in the field and participants then take the information and apply it in their own homes.
The program was developed with the needs of Habitat for Humanity Home Buyers in mind, but is open to everyone. Anyone who owns their own home or wishes to own a home in the future is eligible to receive the Master Homeowner certificate. It will take most participants 9-12 months to complete all of the program requirements.