Dave Borland has no experience as a carpenter, bricklayer or any other occupation related to home construction.
Yet Borland, 53, a civil engineer from Moon, spent Thursday helping build a home for someone he doesn't know -- wounded veteran James Fair of Coraopolis.
"I'm doing pretty much whatever they tell me to. This could not be for a better cause," Borland said.
Fair, 25, suffered severe wounds in 2003 while stringing barbed wire around an ammunition supply point in Fallujah in Iraq. He stumbled onto a makeshift enemy bomb, which exploded, and lost his sight and both hands. Shrapnel tore into his right leg, and he suffered a brain injury.
"I'm thankful that there are so many people here," the Army veteran said as family, friends and about 50 people worked around him in a scene that resembled an Amish barn raising.
Duquesne Light Co. organized much of the fundraising effort for Fair's home in Ross, setting up a booth at the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show in March to collect money.
"We have met a lot of nice people through all of this. It's amazing how much people have helped," said Lonnie Mosco, Fair's mother.
Fair's home will cost about $250,000 and is being paid for through donations of cash, time and material. One anonymous donor gave $100,000 earlier this year.
The cost of the house is higher than an ordinary two-bedroom home since it will be equipped with a variety of expensive sensors to turn on lights, open doors and help him get around, said Paul Gemme, senior project manager for Homes for Our Troops, a Taunton, Mass.-based nonprofit.
Homes for Our Troops has built three homes in Pennsylvania and has finished 17 nationally in the past year, Gemme said.
"I don't care if you are for the war or against it. What could be more important than this?" said Robert Meyer, representative for the Greater Pittsburgh Regional Council of Carpenters, which had workers at the site.
Barring extreme weather, the frame of Fair's house -- including walls, a roof and windows -- should be completed by late Saturday.
"With this many people out here, this sort of work gets done a lot faster than it does at a normal home construction site, where you might just have four or five guys working at any one time," said Kirt Rebello, chief projects officer for Homes for Our Troops.
Rebello, a third-generation home builder, stopped working at his own company to work for Homes for Our Troops. "I am a veteran myself, and I felt this is what I should be doing."
Anyone interested in volunteering in the construction of Fair's home is invited to show up at 112 Oesterle Lane starting at 8 a.m. today and Saturday.