Making a home in Marshall

Redwood River Habitat For Humanity is working with a local family to renovate a house

Above photo by Deb Gau/Below center, submitted Above: Instead of building a new house, Redwood River Habitat For Humanity is working with a partner family and local contractors to renovate a house on West Main Street. The renovation work in progress includes making updates to the home’s kitchen and bathroom.


Painting, carpeting, a kitchen remodel — for the past few weeks, things have been busy inside a house on Marshall’s Main Street. But it’s been more than just a renovation project. It means a local family are on their way toward having a home of their own.

“It’s overwhelming, but it’s exciting,” said Marshall resident Matt Sandman. Sandman’s family is partnering with Redwood River Habitat For Humanity to renovate the house.

While Habitat For Humanity is known for helping families build homes, Redwood River HFH has also renovated existing area homes a couple of times in its past, said Redwood River HFH executive director Charlie Sanow. Renovations at the house on West Main started this month. The house was donated to Redwood River HFH by Sandra Mosch, Sanow said.

So far, Redwood River HFH has built or renovated a total of nine homes for area families, Sanow said.

Matt Sandman, his wife Shawna, and their family have been working to help renovate the house, before they can officially move in.

Shawna Sandman said it was her father who first suggested she and Matt apply to Habitat For Humanity for help in getting better quality housing than where they were living. At first, she said, she wasn’t even sure where they could go to apply. But when the Sandmans moved to Marshall, she noticed Redwood River HFH’s Re-Store on North U.S. Highway 59.

Matt Sandman said he wasn’t sure if Redwood River HFH would choose to partner with their family. But after an application process that included interviews with the Sandmans, they were selected as a partner family.

“It was a great opportunity,” Matt Sandman said of applying to HFH, and he was glad to have been selected. When the Sandmans heard there was a house available to renovate, he said, “I was like, ‘Let’s do this.'”

When the house on West Main Street was donated to Redwood River HFH, it was a rental property, and “it was in fairly good shape,” Sanow said. The organization will be renovating or updating parts of the house.

It took a few months before the house’s rental tenants could move out and renovation work could begin, the Sandmans said. However, Sanow said renovations did get underway at the beginning of February.

“We’re going to re-do the kitchen and bathroom, and put a new furnace in,” Sanow said, as well as adding new carpet and other fixtures. Matt Sandman said they’ve also worked to paint and seal the house’s unfinished basement.

Part of being a Habitat For Humanity partner family involves “sweat equity,” or putting labor into the house being built or renovated. While they’re not doing all of the renovation, Shawna Sandman said her family has been putting in a lot of work on different tasks.

“We’ve been doing all the painting. We installed a few new lighting fixtures,” Sandman said. “We get to be part of this.”

She said the Sandmans have been doing a lot of work on weekends, when Matt has time away from his job as truck driver. Shawna’s father has helped work on the house, and even the Sandmans’ 8-year-old daughter Emma has pitched in.

“She got to help paint her room,” Shawna Sandman said.

Even though there’s a lot to do, she said, “It’s a lot of fun because we have different skills.” Family teamwork helps get the job done.

Even before the physical work started, there were a lot of decisions to make, like choosing paint colors and other details.

“Not many people get to the point where they pick out everything in their house, and we did it in a day,” Matt Sandman said.

It’s been exciting to see the renovations take shape, he said. Even simple things like fresh paint have made a difference in how the house looks.

“It’s amazing,” Shawna Sandman said of the experience of working with HFH. “It’s been totally worth it.”

Sanow said Redwood River HFH was thankful for the donation of the house. Donating a home is another way for people to help Redwood River HFH.

“It helps us go on with our mission,” Sanow said.