Technical Education Post

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Student Building Industry Program

Built from start to finish by 32 students in the Ann Arbor Student Building Industry Program, which has completed several other homes in recent years.

Juniors and seniors from Ann Arbor’s five high schools have worked from the first day of school to complete the home through the Ann Arbor Student Building Industry Program. Students have been hands-on in every aspect of the build, including framing, hanging drywall, running electrical and setting roof trusses.

The student home build is a nonprofit run by a board of directors with those in the construction industry who help with the purchase of lots and the sale of the home. Funding for homes comes from the sale of the home students built the year before.

Ann Arbor Public Schools

Ann Arbor Public Schools provides the students for the program, while also paying for its two instructor salaries, as well as busing and the trailer the crew works out of. Students have been working in three-hour morning and afternoon blocks since the first day of school. The home is list price of $657,000.

Being part of what could be the nation’s largest home build completed by students in a single school year is something he takes pride in after arriving on the site of an empty lot on the first day of school to watching the siding go up on the home Tuesday, May 23, Ann Arbor Huron senior Aidan Gray sai

“It’s definitely a big accomplishment, especially for a group of high school students to come out here and build a house this size,” Gray said. “It’s a pretty good feeling. It can be overwhelming at first, seeing all of the moving pieces, but once you get a good visual understanding for it all, it all starts to come together.

“It’s been a really eye-opening experience of how much goes into building a house and what you need to know.”

Base Understanding

The intention of the program is to not help students master every aspect of home construction, but to at least provide them with a base understanding of how it works, Ann Arbor Student Building Industry Program assistant instructor Grant Welch said.

“We understand that building a house this big, they’re not going to master every aspect of it, but they’re going to get exposure to every part of it,” Welch said. “That allows them to figure out what they want to do and what they find interesting.”

While he doesn’t have a database or registry to confirm his claim that the home is the largest student home build to be completed in the nation in a single year, Valchine said he’s confident in his assertion based on widespread conversations he’s with other student home build program directors.

While most student home builds are ranch-style homes or even modular builds, this home far surpasses those in size based on the unique positioning of its lot, which allowed for construction of an 1,100-square-foot finished basement.

“By far we’ve been the ones building the largest home in one school year in comparison when talking with the other instructors,” Valchine said.

Complete the Build

That means they either complete steps of the build entirely by themselves like the carpentry and installation of the siding, or they work side-by-side with a skilled worker or technician who explains the entire process to them for projects like installing the HVAC, plumbing, drywall and electrical work before they do the work.

“We pride ourselves on the fact that it’s all-encompassing,” Valchine said. “They own or participate in every aspect.”

While there are two lots remaining from the eight lots the Ann Arbor Student Building Industry Program purchased in the subdivision, Valchine said the board of directors are actively seeking more land to build in the future to continue the yearly builds the nonprofit has facilitated since 1970.

”We’re in dire need now to continue this tradition,” Valchine said. “We’re desperately looking right now. It’s hard – there’s no more land in Ann Arbor.”

Those interested in buying the home should contact Pat Durston with Reinhart Realtors at 734-260-9247.

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