FAQs

  • Is it true that Habitat® gives houses away to deserving people?
  • No. Habitat® homeowners pay a no-interest mortgage on a no-profit home, and work hundreds of hours (sweat equity) for their homes.

  • What is sweat equity?
  • It is the work you and your family put into your house, the houses of others and other projects with Habitat®. Each partner family must complete hundreds of hours of work; the exact number of hours depends on the number of adults in the family.

  • If my Habitat® house is completed before I finish my sweat equity hours, can I close on the loan and move in?
  • No. Depending on the circumstances, you and your family will have a reasonable agreed on amount of time to complete your sweat equity work. If you do not complete your sweat equity hours, you can be de-selected.

  • Does Habitat pay me for my hours of sweat equity work if I cannot be approved for a house, am de-selected or work more than the required hours?
  • No. Your sweat equity becomes a volunteer hours donation.

  • What is Partnership all about?
  • It is the willingness to work with Habitat® on your home, the homes of others, other Habitat® projects as needed and to attend homeownership support classes. It includes showing up on time, as scheduled, performing whatever task is assigned and doing the best job you can. It also means paying your mortgage payments on time and in full every month so other families can have the same opportunity you do. Habitat® mortgage payments go into a special account, to be used to help build future homes.

  • I’m disabled, handicapped, developmentally challenged, or have medical issues that limit my mobility and physical stamina. Do I still have to comply with the sweat equity requirement?
  • Yes. Sweat equity is always a requirement of Habitat® home ownership. However, Habitat® will work with you and make all
    reasonable special accommodations. If it is totally impossible for you to perform sweat equity hours, arrangements can be made for a friend or family members to work in your place.

  • Do I have to be a Christian or a member of a church in order to apply for a house?
  • No. In accordance with equal housing opportunity law and Habitat’s® belief that God’s love extends to all, Habitat® does not discriminate on the basis of creed or religion. Habitat® was founded as and still is a Christian ministry and prayer is a part of our volunteer work. The home dedication ceremony also includes prayer and presentation of a Bible to the Partner Family. If you are uncomfortable with or offended by these activities, being a Habitat® partner may not be for you.

  • How long does the application process take?
  • It can take from several months to almost a year, depending on how quickly you can provide the required information, how many people apply, and when our volunteer Family Selection Committee can meet to review the applications. We are a mostly volunteer based affiliate and cannot guarantee a response to your application within a specific time.
    Examples of information required from each applicant are: copies of Social Security card, birth certificate, green card if applicable, two years of federal and state tax returns, last two paycheck stubs if applicable, benefit statements for other sources of income, records to verify child support, 12 month payment summary from two utility companies, rent receipts for the past year, and if applicable a copy of any divorce decrees.

  • How long does it take to build a Habitat®home?
  • It can take six months to several years. Habitat® homes are built with volunteer labor using donations of building materials and money. Volunteers have other responsibilities, materials and money may arrive slowly. We complete each home as quickly as possible, but it may take longer than we or you expect.

  • Are Habitat homes sub-standard?
  • No. Idaho Falls Area homes are simple, decent, energy efficient and affordable — but not luxurious. They meet or exceed all building code requirements, are regularly inspected during construction and have a Certificate of Occupancy final inspection just like any other new construction home. Homes built by our affiliate are tested and exceed energy and water efficiency standards.

  • Do I get to choose the size of my house?
  • No. Habitat® has home size guidelines. Home size depends on the needs of the partner family.

  • Do I get to choose the location of my house?
  • No. If you do not like the location of the house to be built when your application is approved, you have the right to decline the house and start the application process over again.

  • So how much will my house cost?
  • Habitat® homes are sold at no profit with a no interest loan to the Partner Family. The cost to you will be the total costs (including land) Habitat® Idaho Falls Area paid to build it.

  • Do I get to choose the size of the garage and what extras the house has?
  • No. Our affiliate does not build garages or carports unless they are required by a building code. Our homes do not have air conditioning, swamp coolers, garage door openers, separate screen doors, microwaves, fireplaces, jetted bathroom tubs, expensive landscaping, children’s play equipment or other high end amenities. Habitat® builds simple, affordable homes.

  • Do I get to select colors, appliances, flooring and fixtures?
  • Maybe. Partner families may be able to participate in the selection of flooring, countertops, light and plumbing fixtures, but we cannot guarantee that. Many of our home build items, including windows, appliances and paint, are new but donated. We gratefully accept what our build partners give us.

  • Do you do a criminal background and sex offender registry check?
  • Yes, for any family member who will reside in the home. Appearance on a Sex Offender Registry may result in the immediate termination of the application process. For criminal offenders, Habitat® considers the nature, seriousness and time period of the offense. As a Christian ministry, Habitat® recognizes the need for forgiveness if a person has served his/her time and paid his/her debt to society.

  • I don’t know anything about construction. Do I still have to work 50 hours at the construction site?
  • Yes. We will train you and a more experienced volunteer will work with you. Safety on a job site is our top concern. You will have to complete the online Habitat® safety course before you can work on a job site, and you can tell the construction manager or other volunteers if you do not feel safe or comfortable doing a particular job (working on a roof or with power tools, for example) so you can be assigned to different work.

  • I work in the construction or remodeling trades. Can I do whatever work I want to do on my house, when I have time?
  • No. All construction related work must be assigned, coordinated, supervised and approved by Habitat® Idaho Falls Area. Even if you are an experienced construction professional you will have to complete the online Habitat® safety course before you can work on a job site.

  • I’m in a wheelchair and have family members who use walkers and canes. Are your houses built so people like me, my family and my visitors can get in and out?
  • Yes. Whenever possible Habitat® homes are visitable (built with an exterior ramp and/or a level entry exterior door). We can meet handicap accessible standards for partner families who need that accommodation.

  • Can I qualify if I have a lot of debt or credit issues?
  • Maybe. We look at your debt to income ratio. That means the total of your current monthly debt (including the estimated mortgage payment) must not take more than 40% of your gross family income. You must not have any outstanding liens, judgments, garnishments, unpaid charge-offs, non-medical collections or student loans in default. You must be able to explain any late payments and not have filed bankruptcy within the past two years. You can apply while you are working on your debt and credit issues, but you cannot be approved for a home partnership or move into a Habitat® home until those issues are resolved.

  • Do you count overtime pay as income for the Income Guidelines table?
  • Maybe. We look at what the family's income is expected to be for the coming year, based on recent history. In some jobs, overtime is seasonal. HUD suggests looking at income for the past 3 months, or if income and/or overtime vary a lot, the past 12 months to as long as 2 to 3 years.

  • Can I apply if my family does not include any children or if I am a single person?
  • Yes. Children are not required for Habitat homeownership and a family can consist of a single person. Habitat for Humanity® and Habitat Idaho Falls Area area do not discriminate on the basis of familial status (for HFHI and HUD, familial status means either a family of one person or the presence or absence of children in a family).

  • Can I be de-selected after I am approved as a potential Habitat® partner family?
  • Yes. Examples of some issues that can result in de-selection are: fraud or dishonest statements on the application materials, appearance on a Sex Offender Registry, significant change in financial situation, demonstrated lack of willingness to participate in the Habitat® partnering process. Approval is based on the information in your application. If there are changes to that information, you agree to notify Habitat® Idaho Falls Area immediately so your application can be reviewed with the new information included.

  • If I go through the application process and don’t qualify, can I re-apply?
  • Yes. There is no limit to the number of times you can re-apply and all of the forms are available to you on our web site. You will receive a letter of explanation if you don’t qualify, and you can use that as a guideline for the issues that need to be addressed before you apply again.