According to a report issued by Construction Coverage in early 2022, females hold just 11.8% of all construction jobs in the Denver area. However, the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver’s Professional Women in Building Council (PWB) is the second-largest council of its type in the country with 163 members. They also have a strong commitment to community service and, over the years, many of their members have volunteered on projects for Home Builders Foundation (HBF).
Last year, PWB decided to host an all-female construction project. After learning from HBF about the need for a bathroom modification for 10-year-old Ethan H., who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and uses an electric wheelchair for mobility, PWB decided it was the perfect fit. Erin Hurley, 2022 PWB Board Chair, says the project resonated with many of the members. “The pandemic reinforced the need for the home to be a refuge,” Hurley reflected. “We wanted to showcase our skills and talents by modifying this house to not only increase Ethan’s independence but also to make it safer and more comfortable for both him and his family.”
After meeting with the family to learn about their needs and evaluate the space, work on the project began in early January. Hayley Selden, owner of Redwood Jane, LLC and current board president of the PWB, was the general contractor on the project.
When the modifications at Ethan’s home were completed in mid-April, HBF invited Denver7 to join them for a tour. The modified bathroom features a curbless shower, accessible toilet and lower sinks that Ethan can easily reach from his wheelchair. It also has special features such as a motion- and touch-activated sink. Additionally, the entrance to the bathroom from Ethan’s bedroom was widened to accommodate his electric wheelchair and the carpeting in the bedroom replaced with smooth luxury vinyl plank flooring. The smooth floor is one of Ethan’s favorite features. During the tour, he zipped through the rooms, demonstration how he can now, “go faster!”
Nearly 90% of the renovation work was completed by tradeswomen. “Our initial goal was to showcase the skills and talents of women builders to encourage a younger generation of women to explore the field,” reported Selden. “Once we got to know the family, we became fully engaged in elevating their lives by creating a space that maximized safety, comfort and independence for Ethan.” See the Denver7 news story: Boy with muscular dystrophy inspires home builders helping update his home (denver7.com)
HBF is thankful to PWB and the many groups and individuals who donate their time and talents on projects like Ethan’s that increase safety, access and independence for individuals living with physical disabilities.