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Olivehurst homeowner, Habitat for Humanity in dispute over work

A Habitat for Humanity remodeling project left an Olivehurst home in shambles, but the 62-year-old homeowner shares some of the blame, an official with the charity said.

Paige Sharrer, an Olivehurst woman who suffers from arthritis and a spinal disease, spoke out against Habitat for Humanity when the charity tried to obtain a use permit from the Marysville Planning and Historic Preservation Commission on Jan. 23.

The permit was denied, but not before the board heard several complaints about Habitat's practices from community members like Sharrer.

Habitat for Humanity worked on Sharrer's home last year. The plan was to rebuild portions of an uninhabitable house on her property so that it could be brought up to standard and deemed livable by development agencies.

After several months, the project was abandoned, but not before large portions of the house were torn down.

"It's an open shell inside," Sharrer said.

Sharrer, who lived in a mobile home on the property during construction, now lives in the single-story house, which has numerous holes and cracks. Cold air and mosquitoes drift in from the ceilings, and the walls lack the insulation needed to keep the place warm.

The house, according to Sharrer, is in turmoil because Habitat never finished the remodel. She said the charity did work to her house that she never agreed to.

Arguments between her and Habitat volunteers ensued, and eventually the project was stopped.

Bill Williamson, president of Habitat for Humanity Yuba-Sutter, said all work done to the house was agreed upon by Sharrer in advance. Construction ended, he said, when Sharrer demanded that certain Habitat volunteers stay off her property, including Williamson himself.

"Habitat can't continue work on her house unless she signs a contract," he said. "She doesn't want to sign a contract."

Initially, the project was supposed to cost Sharrer $10,883. However, the repair project could have cost up to $20,000, according to a letter of agreement signed by both parties in December 2011.

The estimated project length was 90 days. Construction was to begin in January 2012, but didn't start until February because of rainy weather, Williamson said. After three months, the remodel wasn't finished.

Sharrer then began to question whether or not she was overcharged for the work done, and asked general contractor Karl Kiesow to assess Habitat's work.

Kiesow said the remodel could have easily been completed in the 90 day time-frame, and cheaper materials could have been used to save Sharrer money.

"There were discrepancies between what was due and what was said was due, and what materials were used," Kiesow said.

According to Williamson, Habitat is reimbursing Sharrer on certain materials used in the project. A couple of Sharrer's requests for a refund were justified, he said, but some were done "to try to settle her down."

Williamson offered Sharrer a new contract to finish the work on her house and put their differences behind them, but she wanted a new contractor to complete the remodel, he said.

With large portions of the house left incomplete, Sharrer and Habitat for Humanity remain no closer to reaching a deal that would finish the project.

Yuba-Sutter chapter meeting charter requirements

Habitat for Humanity is meeting the requirements of its charter despite the fact that the Yuba-Sutter chapter hasn't built a house in more than three years.

In order to keep its charter, an affiliate must serve one family annually through either new home construction, home renovation, repair or weatherization, said Adam Rondeau, spokesman for Habitat for Humanity International.

Additionally, one family must be served through new home construction or renovation every three years. The last house built was in late 2009, but fell into the 2009-10 fiscal year.

The Yuba-Sutter chapter has completed several home repairs in the last three years to fulfill the basic requirements, Bill Williamson said. The chapter would like to build more, but donations have been low.

A new home is currently in the beginning stages of construction on Booth Avenue in Marysville.

Habitat for Humanity Yuba-Sutter has acquired at least two additional plots of land over the past three years that Williamson hopes to build houses on soon, he said.

CONTACT Griffin Rogers at grogers@appealdemocrat.com or 749-4783. Find him on Facebook at /ADgriffinrogers or on Twitter at @ADgriffinrogers.


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