Well-planned volunteer efforts can complete housing projects with significant savings in overall costs. Volunteers may be the intended owner, tenant or co-operative member as well as friends, family, community members and others who wish to participate. Typically, they include both skilled and unskilled people, requiring differing degrees of supervision, and are involved in different tasks. External volunteers often participate through the involvement of the groups in which they are members, including churches or other faith-based organizations, local charitable and non-profit groups, businesses, building associations, etc.
Sweat equity, which can be gained from both future residents and external participants, is the value that volunteer work represents in the project. As such, it can be counted as an equity contribution, thereby reducing the size of the mortgage that needs to be obtained. Using volunteers also increases support for the project in the community. This approach can also create a sense of ownership for those who help build or renovate housing in which they will live.