Habitat for Humanity of Southwest Montana’s home building process can feel long and tiring. However, it is also exciting and life-changing. After completing your construction cycle, you will not only own your own home, but also have the financial tools necessary to properly manage your money. Read all about the home building process:

The First Step

Make sure that you qualify for our program by checking the requirements at National Affordable Housing Network’s (NAHN) website. The potential homebuyer must either fill out NAHN’s New Client Intake Form or contact the Home Center office at (406)782-8579. This act will start the application process for the home. Shortly after applying, a credit counselor from NAHN will contact the applicant to set up a credit counseling session.

Credit Counseling

NAHN has two HUD-certified credit counselors who will meet with the applicant to assist with credit repair, improve credit score, and provided budget counseling. Throughout these meetings the counselor will provide advice on how to lower debt and manage income. Credit counseling is a free service offered to the public. Much of the budgeting advice provided by NAHN credit counselor’s will require changes to normal habits and may be difficult to follow initially. However, it is necessary to make these changes if the applicant is truly seeking homeownership. These counseling sessions are not free debt relief. Rather, they are an educational service that helps those seeking to own a home become prepared financially for homeownership. The outcome of these sessions is entirely dependent on the effort put in by the applicant.

Learn more about NAHN’s free credit counseling program by clicking here.

Mortgage Approval

After attending credit counseling sessions and putting in the work to achieve financial stability and an improved credit score, you will apply for a mortgage. With the help of your counselor, you will apply for a low interest mortgage through the USDA-Rural Development. Currently, the interest rate is 2.5%, and some families may qualify for an interest rate as low as 1%. Once approved, you will be placed in your family-build group. You will then begin to choose the site for your new home and start the construction process.


Once you have reached this stage in the process, the fun part begins! You will work alongside the other owner-builders in your group to construct each other’s houses. Every owner-builder must contribute a total of 1,000 hours of labor during construction. Help donated by friends and family count towards your total. You are never expected nor advised to do it all yourself. Time donated by local groups of volunteers is divided among all the owner-builders by our staff. Throughout the process, Habitat’s team of expert carpenters will lead the construction of all homes to make sure that they are built to the Habitat for Humanity SWMT standard.

Make Your House a Home

It is important to note that our homes are not cookie-cutter. Although Habitat follows specific housing plans, we can make adjustments as needed to accommodate our families. Also, as we progress through the construction process, you will make decisions to personalize your new home. Selecting things like flooring, cabinets, counter tops, and paint colors will allow you to make your new home yours.

Once the structure is erected, the families are asked to get as involved as they possibly can. Volunteers and family work hours play a massive role in keeping costs down and accelerating the construction process as we get to the point of flooring, interior and exterior painting, and landscaping. Habitat for Humanity SWMT does not require or expect our families to have construction experience. Our site coordinator is happy to teach construction skills to anyone willing to donate their time to help with the build.


Once we complete construction on all homes in the build cycle, the key to your new home is handed to you. At the end of the process, the home is yours along with the subsidized mortgage through USDA-RD. Habitat SWMT is not the landlord or lender on this home, and we are not responsible for general maintenance on the home. Homeowners are expected to keep their home in good working order and in livable condition. After contributing 1,000 hours of labor and paying towards a mortgage, many homeowners have no issue following this guideline.

Many of our Habitat families have never been able to achieve homeownership before. Before handing over the key, we like to clarify a few differences between renting and owning. First of all, unlike renting, you are responsible for all aspects of your home (lawn care, maintenance and repairs, etc.). Also, you are now working towards owning your home and building equity through your mortgage payment instead of paying rent which contributes towards nothing. This is a big change in your financial portfolio and should give good reason to take pride in your property.

Get Started Today

Hopefully this page has provided a comprehensive overview of the entire home building process. Habitat families not only acquire newly-built, energy-efficient housing at an affordable rate, but also build community along the way. Click the link at the top or bottom of the page to apply for a home or contact our office at (406) 782-8579 with any questions.