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Local engineering company helps make affordable housing a reality

Habitat Homes are true group projects. They are only successful with the support of community partners who are willing to donate their time and services to keep build costs as low as possible. One of those long-time partners is Tim Sorey and his company Sand Creek Engineering and Landscape Architecture. 

Sorey, a Bentonville resident since 1979, started Sand Creek in 1999 and has seen firsthand the growth Northwest Arkansas has experienced over the past 20+ years. He learned about Habitat for Humanity Benton County from his business partner. while serving on Rotary. Sorey said his team helped on one build and he expressed willingness to help Habitat if the need arose, thus beginning a fun and sometimes crazy long-term relationship between Sand Creek and Habitat.

"Just getting exposed to Habitat and the heart of the organization, I basically said, ‘Hey there’s got to be a way we can help,” Sorey said. “I said, ‘Debby if you need help, I want to help. If I can basically work hourly for Habitat and treat you like I do my church work, I’ll donate all my time. Basically, if I can keep it from going to my staff, obviously if I have to do a lot split or something for Habitat we’ve got a licensed surveyor that’s got to be involved, but my hope is just to minimize the out-of-pocket expense for the services I can provide for Habitat and help them do what we do.” 

In addition to volunteering services on Habitat builds, Sorey explained Sand Creek also works for area municipalities and developers doing both commercial and residential subdivision work. He said the constant growth in the Northwest Arkansas area has blessed their company and allowed them to stay busy locally. However, he emphasized he remains committed to helping Habitat with projects whenever possible. 

“It was just one of those open-door type attitudes I had, that if I could be of assistance looking at property, I was happy to help,” Sorey said. “I just reiterated my heart for this with Phil, [Habitat’s Construction Manager], when you all had a new director in, we could continue to provide that work and the assistance that we’ve been doing. The heart there is however we can help.  I want to help. Limited resources, limited time, is really a bigger issue for us a lot of the time. But if we can make it easier [for Habitat] that’s where my heart is.”

Philip Fink, Habitat for Humanity of Benton County’s Construction Manager, said Sorey and his team at Sand Creek have been by his side through several projects for Habitat. Fink explained the knowledge base and skillset the Engineering company provides is amazing and makes the home-building process more affordable for the family. 

“Anything we don’t have to spend out of pocket to build a house not only saves us money, but it saves the homeowners money because that does not go into the cost of the house,” Fink said. “Anything that we can save on like that is just a huge burden off of the homeowners.” 

Sorey explained he has been involved with Habitat both professionally and personally. He said his daughter knew one of the Habitat home recipients. He explained although they were not involved in the person being able to get a house, it was a blessing to see the family’s life change through the affordable housing program. 

“There’s a lot of folks that just need the help, need the break, are willing to work hard, do what they need to do to get on their feet, but they can’t seem to catch a break,” Sorey said. “So, seeing that from both sides, the Habitat side and also the recipient side, I think was just an incredible experience.” 

Since the start of Sand Creek and Habitat’s partnership in 2006, the engineering company has assisted on at least 13 Habitat projects. Sorey explained he has done a variety of engineering and architecture work since 1983 and enjoys having a company that emphasizes the importance of both life and work.  

“[That emphasis on life] needs to spill out,” Sorey said. “That spills out hopefully in what we do for Habitat and that spills out in the community. But I want a healthy work environment for my people, and I want them involved. It’s nice to be blessed to be able to do local work, and work in the area that my staff is raising their family in.” 

Fink emphasized Sorey’s dedication to the community and said his strong Christian faith overflows into his business life and with his employees. Fink explained he enjoys working with Sorey and appreciates his genuine commitment to his work with Habitat.

“He is super, super gung-ho about Habitat and working for Habitat and he donates his time,” Fink said. “All we have to pay for is his employee’s time, that’s basically all he charges us for. He’s a super guy. I know him from church as well, so his faith is super strong, just a super Christian.”