For Construction Students, Small Homes Could Lead to Big Careers

Students in an innovative program built a micro house with a kitchen, a bathroom, a sleeping loft with space for a queen-size bed and a storage loft, all set on a trailer for mobility.

📅   Thu November 03, 2016 - Northeast Edition


An estimated 30 percent of construction workers left the industry during the housing crisis, and many never returned.
An estimated 30 percent of construction workers left the industry during the housing crisis, and many never returned.

If you're tempted by the tiny house movement and think 160 square feet is just about right for your needs, you may want to contact the Academy of Construction and Design (ACAD) at IDEA Public Charter School in Northeast Washington.

Students in the program built a micro house with a kitchen, a bathroom, a sleeping loft with space for a queen-size bed and a storage loft, all set on a trailer for mobility. The exterior of the house was part of a sustainable living exhibit in 2015 and was moved to the IDEA campus so students could work with builders to complete the interior earlier this year.

The micro house, which includes sustainable features such as bamboo flooring, energy-efficient windows and HardiePlank lap siding, as well as an Avanti Energy Star 30-inch-wide compact kitchen, will be sold this fall for an estimated $50,000 to $55,000, with proceeds reinvested into annual homebuilding projects that provide hands-on training and mentoring to students.

“The students learned carpentry and construction math skills while they were working on the micro house,” said Beth Moore, programs director of the DC Students Construction Trades Foundation. “The students had to use hand and power tools to measure and cut the lumber and decide how much to buy.”

Moore said students also learned safety techniques so they are prepared for safety certifications, requirements on job sites.

ACAD students will begin working on a second micro house this semester that will be completed and sold at the end of the academic year. In addition, the school is starting a larger project, building a single-family house in Northeast's Ward 7.

“We just closed on the property, which was very difficult to find in the city,” Moore said. “We looked at many lots that turned out not to be buildable because they were too small, so the students have already learned about city regulations, building codes and planning as part of this process. Sometime this fall, we'll get started with tweaking the design of the house and continue with the permitting process, which our students can participate in, and then we'll begin the construction phase.”

This will be the second full-size house built by ACAD students. The first was built and sold several years ago on 13th Street NW, Moore said.

The DC Students Construction Trades Foundation, the accredited sponsor of the academy since 2005, supports skilled trades courses in public schools to generate interest in career and technical education as a conduit to a career or college.

Labor shortage is among the obstacles to new residential construction and part of the reason newly built homes cost much more than resales, according to Robert Dietz, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders in Washington. The association estimates that there are approximately 184,000 available construction jobs across the country, a jump of 43 percent over the past three years. An estimated 30 percent of construction workers left the industry during the housing crisis, and many never returned.

Source: The Washington Post