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Friday, April 12, 2024


‘It Would be a Shame to Tear it Down’

Avalon NJ Move

By Karen Knight

AVALON – Adam Szyfman attributes being in the “right place at the right time” when he found a new site for his young family and decided the house sitting on the property was “in such beautiful shape” that he didn’t want it to go to waste. 
Watch video courtesy of Adam Szyfman:
Although too small for his family, the 1940s cottage had been renovated in 2004, boasting Cathedral ceilings, vinyl siding, new windows, and updated kitchen and baths. “I thought it would be a shame to tear it down,” he said. “I thought it still had some life to give a family.”
Friends suggested donating it to Habitat for Humanity Cape May County, so Szyfman pursued the idea. “Although it is a lot of work and sometimes very frustrating to make a donation like this, we were able to make it happen,” he said, “and the original owners are thrilled that another family will be able to make memories there. They have been very accommodating with the schedule for the closing, so we could get things in place.”
Szyfman also made a monetary donation to help cover the cost of the move.
“We’re thrilled by Adam’s (Szyfman) generosity to donate the house,” said Debra Wichtel, sister of Shirley Colombo, who owned the home with her husband, Charles, before both passed away. “He was under no obligation to save it; it could have been a tear-down, like so many homes at the shore. 
“We’re thrilled with his respect for the home and work my sister and her husband put into it over the years,” she added. “Every stitch in it was built for the good family memories we have at the bay and in the house.”
Wichtel, of Chesterfield, said her uncle bought the home about 1949 before selling it to the Colombos in the 1970s. They renovated the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home several times over the years.
“The house used to be on pylons and my uncle wanted to add another level to it, but it toppled over during the process,” Wichtel recalled. “He ran out of money and ended up putting it on the foundation where it’s been all these years. We’re thrilled another family will be able to make memories in it.”
The house was moved Oct. 18 by Dennis Creek House Movers from Avalon to a Habitat property on Redwood Avenue in Upper Township after state and county permits were obtained. After fixing a flat tire, the house crept along at 10-15 miles per hour for the 14-mile trek to its new home.
To accommodate the width of the roads and underpasses, adjustments were made to the house to accommodate traveling on Route 9. 
“We needed to remove the roof because the ceilings were over nine feet high,” said Carson Barry, owner of the moving company, “and we needed to get under the Garden State Parkway. We also had to remove the deck and overhang because it was wider than the 12-foot-wide traffic lanes.”
Habitat Construction Supervisor Robert “Budd” Springer said he recalled a house being donated to Habitat about six years ago, and being moved from Ocean City to Whitesboro, but house donations are not easy and don’t happen often. In this case, the heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit also had to be removed before the trip. 
“To be accepted, it has to meet the same standards as a new house,” explained Springer. “Accepting a donation like this is not easy.”
Those standards include ensuring the house earns the “Energy Star” label, meaning everything from the insulation in the walls and attic, heating and air conditioning system, windows and appliances meet certain energy efficiency standards. 
“The family who gets this house has to be able to afford to pay the utility bills,” Springer pointed out. 
Families who receive a Habitat home go through an application process to show they will be able to pay the mortgage at 0% interest, property taxes, and insurance. They also have to be a willing partner with Habitat to provide at least 300 hours of “sweat equity.”
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit, non-denominational Christian housing ministry which welcomes all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or any other difference to help build houses in partnership with people in need of safe, affordable shelter. Habitat affiliates work locally in communities around the world, and in Cape May County, to select and support homeowners, to organize volunteers, to coordinate house building and repair, and to raise donations of cash, goods, and services. 
Habitat Cape May County targets families with incomes of 50% of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) median family income in Cape May County, or families earning $25,000-$37,000 per year or less for a family of four, according to its website. 
Habitat Executive Director Sarah Matthews said the house is sitting on one of two lots Habitat has until the foundation is poured. It then will be hoisted onto the foundation and Springer’s volunteer construction crew will re-construct the home, and possibly replace some appliances and the heating/ventilation/air conditioning system.
Springer said the new family will pick their paint colors for the inside, typically part of the “sweat equity” required to earn the house. 
Matthews said she was hopeful it would be ready by Dec. 1.
To contact Karen Knight, email

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