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A helping house

The house at 923 5th Ave. S., Fargo, needs some love.

Home Builders Association

The house at 923 5th Ave. S., Fargo, needs some love. Stripped down to its original wood siding, windows boarded over on the north side, missing its front stairs and with clumps of dirt instead of a front lawn, the two-story structure stands out at the busy intersection of 10th Street and Fifth Avenue.

This old house has seen better days, but the best days are yet to come.

The Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead and its affiliates, the Remodelers Council and Home Builders Care Foundation, are renovating the 1,448 square-foot house they bought in November.

It's not your standard house-flip. When it's finished for the Fall Parade of Homes, the home will be sold to a low or moderate-income family.

It's a first for the HBA and a project that won't only benefit the new owner, but also the former owner.


"Hopefully it'll help someone get on their feet again and move on with their life like it did me," said Brenda Collins, who bought it in 1996 as a single mother of two boys.

The HBA hired a realtor last year to find an older home for this project. At the time, Collins was looking to get into a newer, smaller space. The sale of the house helped her buy a new home in Osgood.

Besides doing a good deed and helping out families, the HBA gets a prime spot to showcase its products.

When the project is completed it will feature a new garage, a main floor addition with a laundry room and bathroom. There's a new cement floor in the basement, a new heating, venting, and air conditioning system, new windows, electrical, plumbing, kitchen appliances, granite countertop and for the first time, insulation.

Some of the materials are donated by HBA members.

The City of Fargo awarded the project $15,000 in Community Development Block Grants. The most recent city assessment has the building and 50-by-140-foot lot valued at $105,800.

"The home was in tough condition," said Bryce Johnson, executive vice president of the HBA. "The kitchen hardly existed."For as much work going into the house, the 1907 structure itself was fairly sound.

"It was good old sturdy homebuilding," Johnson said.


Eric Rokke of Rokke Construction and president of the charitable Home Builders Care Foundation, said this project makes him appreciate past craftsmanship.

"You don't see this stuff any more without paying a lot of money," he said looking at the original trim work and flooring on the second level. "It was all solid wood at the time and now it's so much veneer."

While what goes into the house will be new, the exterior will match the historic aesthetics of the neighborhood. A new red fiberglass composite board from Tecton Products will cover the original wood siding, making the house the first in the area with the product.

"Our goal is to make the rest of the neighborhood so jealous," said David Skaare of Tecton.

Collins has another objective in mind.

"I hope it helps the neighborhood," she said. "There are so many rentals, it'd be nice to get families in there."

Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533 or jlamb@forumcomm.com


Home Builders Association

For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
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