When leaves turn colors and the first snow falls -- as it did in some areas of the county on Tuesday afternoon -- builders feel the pressure to finish projects before winter.
That feeling of urgency likely is tenfold for two groups of families working to construct one another's homes in Hayden and Oak Creek.
Eight Hayden and six Oak Creek families have been using sweat equity to help pay for new single-family homes and duplexes though the Yampa Valley Housing Authority's Hands on Housing program.
Both projects are behind schedule.
Spring rains delayed the Hayden project, located in Sagewood, until April. So far, the families have six of eight homes "dried in" with plywood sheeting, windows, doors and roofs, construction supervisor Nick Veenstra said.
In Oak Creek, project organizers contended with steep building sites on Grand View Avenue that required extra engineering tests to ensure stability.
The first of five foundations -- there will be four homes and one duplex -- was poured Sept. 1, program manager Heidi Nunnikhoven said.
YVHA hopes to have all the Oak Creek and Hayden homes dried in before winter sets in. The organization is asking for residents' help to do that.
The Hands on Housing program will hold two volunteer days in Oak Creek and one in Hayden. Volunteers need to be at least 16, but all skills levels are welcome.
The construction process was new for most families, which had to qualify financially for the Hands on Housing program and apply for 100 percent loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program.
The loans covered the cost of the lots and subcontractors, which typically take care of excavation, foundations, plumbing, electrical work, insulation and drywall.
Construction supervisors help the families with everything else, mainly framing and installing windows, doors and cabinets.
Each family must dedicate 30 hours a week to the project -- a responsibility that has proved a big challenge for most participants, many of whom have family responsibilities and full-time jobs, Veenstra said.
Although supervisors certainly could use volunteers with carpentry experience, they easily can put other volunteers to work staging lumber and, in Oak Creek, moving materials to various sites, Nunnikhoven said.
The volunteer experience can be a good way for high school students to put their construction skills to use and to reflect community involvement on a college resume.
It's also an opportunity for residents to see whether they may be interested in future Hands on Housing projects in the Yampa Valley, she said.
"A lot of people don't know if it's for them," Nunnikhoven said. "Get out there and see what it's like."
Residents who want to help but cannot attend a scheduled volunteer day can call 870-0167 to arrange another time to volunteer.