By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Editor’s note: The Joplin Globe, in an ongoing series, is telling the story of the many hands that play a role in recovery from the May 22, 2011, tornado by following the construction of a Habitat for Humanity home at 2630 S. Wall Ave. Every piece of the home and every volunteer has a story.
Eric Jeffries’ role in the construction of Habitat for Humanity homes seldom gets much — if any — attention.
But Scott Clayton, executive director of the local Habitat chapter, said Jeffries has been key to the completion of dozens of such homes since the tornado, and his work on them has a lasting impact on each homeowner’s budget.
“As a plumber and heating and air-conditioning specialist, he is meticulous about ensuring all the penetrations are sealed for airtightness,” Clayton said. “What this guy does for us on so many of our houses is a pretty darned important aspect.”
Done incorrectly, it can mean significant energy loss for homeowners and higher utility bills.
“Continued education is key — whether taking classes or reading trade publications,” Jeffries said last week after roughing in the plumbing at 2630 S. Wall Ave.
He was awaiting the arrival of tubs and showers for installation, and when homeowner Ed Kunce arrived, he got a brief lesson from Jeffries about steps he is taking to make the home the best in energy efficiency.
“Energy efficiency is our goal — that’s right by the environment and right by our homeowners,” Jeffries said. “On HVAC, for example, we’re using a higher grade than normal so the unit has to work less.
“Heating and cooling can cause a detriment to the home, too, if the pressurization is wrong,” he said. “If you can tighten up the structure, you can save on not just energy bills but also on the amount of humidity and time spent cleaning because of dust. You also have to size the home correctly for cooling, or it won’t be able to keep up with demand in the summer. There’s a lot of problem solving for each home.”
A Lamar native, Jeffries has owned his own business for 23 years, having first worked six years for someone else. He’s worked on Habitat homes for about eight years.
“Everybody is just so appreciative on everything you do, and it’s just a good feeling. We do a lot of work for custom homes, and they’re all very appreciative of what you do, too, but it’s just a different feeling that you get from a Habitat homeowner — I think they’re very grateful for what you do and what they are receiving,” Jeffries said.
His career wasn’t one he planned but rather stumbled into.
“But I just love it. I love what I do,” he said. “If I won the lottery, I’d still do this work.”
The Justice League, comprised of local lawyers, judges and law enforcement officers, is sponsoring the Habitat for Humanity project at 2630 S. Wall Ave.