Archive for Wednesday, December 15, 1999

The house that students built

December 15, 1999

Students enrolled in Tonganoxie High School's Building Trades I and II classes gain real-world experience each year by building a house.

Three years ago, Building Trades classes were added to the curriculum that Steve Hughes teaches and Hughes immediately started the students' hands-on experience in the home-building trade.

This year, 20 students from the two classes are building a house. Once completed, the house will be auctioned and the money used to repeat the process next year.

"The construction trade is a wide-open field with a lot of job openings," Hughes said. "In technology education, we try to relate real-world experiences to the classroom."

The students enrolled in the class enjoy getting practical experience.

"It helps a lot having hands-on experience," said Ryan Lowe, a junior. "Building a house is something I couldn't see doing before this class."

The houses are constructed on school-district property. Once auctioned, the new owner moves the house. Hughes sticks with the same basic house design each year.

Students work on the house each day, if the weather allows.

Already this year, students have completed three panels of siding, the outside structure and the basic framework for each of the rooms done. They now are working on the roof and putting on the shingles.

The interior of the home features three bedrooms and two bathrooms, as well as a small laundry room, a living room and a kitchen.

Hughes keeps an eye out for floor plans or houses that strike him, and he likes to vary the exterior, if possible. But because Hughes' classes use the same foundation each year, the houses basically are similar.

"If I had it to again," Hughes said. "I would make it more adjustable."

But, they work with what they have. When the house is finished, the students erect wallboard and primer is put on the walls. A toilet, bathtub and kitchen cabinets are installed. The electrical and plumbing work are contracted out.

Each spring, an auction is held to sell the house. Last year 15 to 20 people attended. The house was purchased for $31,500. The money is used to cover the material used in building the house. Any funds left over are put back into buying machinery and equipment to use on the houses.

Even if the students do not continue with building homes, Hughes said they can use the knowledge in the future, such as to fix up their own homes.

Hughes said he enjoys teaching the students in his business trade classes.

"I have different challenges every day," Hughes said. "I love the change of pace as we move along."

And unless it is snowing, raining or storming, the students will be out there working to complete the house by the end of the school year.

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