Habitat for Humanity site supervisors Amanda Phillips and Brendon Fox use a different currency to measure their success than many other contractors: the noble satisfaction of changing people's lives.

Phillips and Fox work like any good site supervisors would. On their multi-house project in Washington, D.C., they oversee everything from site prep to trim, corral subcontractors, and manage multiple crews -- of mostly volunteers. Phillips and Fox are patient with them, too, explaining how things work. They point out that you should leave nail heads proud on vinyl siding or can quickly explain how to lay out a stair landing. It's easy to see that they're pros. But these pros measure production uniquely, not in dollars, but in large part by the good energy (if often slow progress) of the dedicated volunteers they build with and by the smiles of the homeowners on move-in day.

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Amanda Phillips and Brendan Fox

Credit: Mark Clement

These Habitat builders share the same high points from their careers. "Handing over the keys to the new homeowner is always the best part for me," says Fox. Remarks Phillips: "At a dedication, when we hand the house over that we worked so hard on, it's clear we've made a difference."

There are some hard times, though. "We stuff insulation on 95-degree days," says Phillips, and Fox observes, "When we arrive in a neighborhood, well, they can be pretty rough places." But both are quick to point out that it's all worth it and that they love their work.

When they're done, they've achieved a noble goal: They leave a place better than they found it.

-- Mark Clement