Businesses that contributed to the Giving Houses:
• Western Pacific Building Materials
• Performance Insulation
• Performance Building Products
• Parr Lumber
• Eldorado Stone
• Justin Time Cleaning Solutions
• Breaking Ground Excavation
• Macadam Floor & Design
• Prime Interiors
• Krippner Inc.
• HC Impressions NW
• Fireside Home Solutions
• Express Cleanings
• Ferguson Enterprises
• Gerber Plumbing Fixtures
• America 1st Roofing & Builders Inc.
• Delta Faucets
• NW Natural
Nonprofits that have benefited from Community Giving Houses:
Children’s Center $33,850
Children’s Justice Center $25,000
Transitional Youth $20,000
Innovative Services NW $5,000
Evergreen Habitat For Humanity $5,000
Open House Ministries $5,000
Northwest Association for Blind Athletes $3,500
American Red Cross $3,500
American Cancer Society $2,500
Bridge the Gap $1,500
Salvation Army $834
BATTLE GROUND — As Leanna Fabian and Steve Bradford toured a model home in Pacific Lifestyle Homes’ Whispering Pines development, they discussed the similarities and differences of the new homeowners they serve.
Fabian, development director of the nonprofit Evergreen Habitat for Humanity, helps low-income families build and buy a decent home of their own. As vice president of sales and marketing for Pacific Lifestyle Homes, Bradford caters to people who can afford spacious homes with high-end finishes. For many buyers, it’s often their “move up” house, not an entry-level purchase.
While the demographics differ, the American dream is much the same.
“It’s the same type of feeling. Homeownership is stability for people,” Fabian said.
Evergreen Habitat for Humanity has its way of helping people in need — building affordable houses sold at no profit with zero-interest loans — and Pacific Lifestyle Homes has its own way, too.
Pacific Lifestyle Homes has built a Community Giving House each year since 2014 where the proceeds from the sale of the house benefit charity. So far, more than $120,000 has been donated to local charities. This year, the company is building two Giving Houses, and the first of those two houses is getting off the ground.
“There are lots of different ways to give back, but what we do best is build homes,” Bradford said.
The two Community Giving Houses are like any other home that Pacific Lifestyle offers in terms of materials and quality. Anyone can buy the houses. The Giving House at Whispering Pines west of Battle Ground Lake is a 1,982-square-foot, four-bedroom house. Even though it’s not complete, it recently sold.
“A lot of people, when we started the Community Giving House, they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re going to build a house for free?’ No, that’s not exactly how it works. I wish we could do that,” said Nicki Wann, who started Pacific Lifestyle Homes with her husband, Kevin, in 1996. “There are rules and things in real estate that make it a lot more complicated than your normal business to just donate things. … We can’t have kickbacks in our business. Our appraiser can’t appraise for free.”
Instead, the company gives its profit on the home to local charities. Partnerships with vendors maximize the profit margin, or “giving margin,” by discounting or donating their services or materials. Participating vendors include plumbers, framers and excavators as well as suppliers of lumber, faucets and fireplaces.
“We want our trade partners to be able to cover their costs. What we’re asking is what can you give above and beyond your costs?” Wann said.
There are different ways that vendors can partner with the company or otherwise give to the same charity. Those vendors came to Pacific Lifestyle Homes’ offices in Brush Prairie to hear descriptions of nonprofits that would benefit from this year’s houses. Twenty vendors are on board (about half of the vendors Pacific Lifestyle Homes uses), supporting the Giving Houses in some way.
“Everybody can do their part. It’s just collectively we can do a bigger part,” Wann said.
She feels responsibility to put money where it’s needed in the community.
“I think to whom much is given, much is expected, and I’ve always lived by that even though sometimes I didn’t have anything to give,” said Wann, who started her career in real estate, working on commission.
Fabian said Evergreen Habitat for Humanity plans to put the donations it receives toward constructing McKibbin Commons, a 10-home development in Vancouver’s Father Blanchet Park neighborhood. Money from the Giving House primarily goes to local charities such as Evergreen Habitat for Humanity, which is the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity.
“Hopefully, we’ll inspire other businesses to do this as well,” Wann said.
Some local businesses already contribute to the community by doing what they know how to do best. At Beaches Restaurant in Vancouver, for instance, there’s a charity table where people donate a minimum of $5 at lunch and $10 at dinner to sit there and enjoy the view. The restaurant often has cash back days where a portion of sales is donated to local causes.
“It gives you a better purpose than just going to work for a paycheck,” Wann said. “I think that’s part of humanity. You need to have this purpose.”
Philanthropy is a part of the work culture that’s grown as Pacific Lifestyle Homes has gotten bigger and more profitable. The company is sponsoring a golf tournament for Transitional Youth, a faith-based nonprofit supporting homeless youth in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington, along with a benefit luncheon for Children’s Center, a mental health treatment provider that primarily serves children living in poverty.
This year, Pacific Lifestyle expects to build 300 or so homes the Portland metro area and Puget Sound, including about 60 homes in the first phase of the Whispering Pines development that also features New Tradition homes. It’ll be complete sometime between a year and 18 months from now.
Prices start around $380,000 and top out around $549,000. The second Giving House will be built in a similarly-priced development called Philbrook Farms in Pleasant Valley south of Washington State University Vancouver. The first three Giving Houses were built in Felida.