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Rebuilding a program

Published on November 9, 2017 2:51PM

Last changed on November 9, 2017 7:50PM

LEBANON ó Lebanon High School's first for-sale house construction project in 17 years is starting to take shape at the corner of Vine and 10th streets in Lebanon.

Forty-four students in Eric Frazier's two advanced construction classes are spending a total of four class periods per weekday working on the home. They're just beginning the project ó this week was spent on putting up the footing forms and batter boards ó but the idea is to have the whole single-story, three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,545-square-foot home and garage done by the end of the school year.

The sale price for the house will depend at least in part on what's inside, Frazier said. The high school has a home design group as part of its drafting class, and those students will be the ones working on the types of countertops, cabinets, hardwoods and laminate that might be installed.

Once those items are decided, however, he figures the house will sell for anywhere from $220,000 to $275,000.

Then it will be time to find a new lot for a new house.

"There's a couple we are inquiring about," he said.

Frazier's classes last built a home for sale to the general public in the 1999-2000 school year. After that, the district moved its vocational programs toward more pre-engineering classes, which Frazier believes led to the death of the sale program.

Between then and 2016, when the Lebanon School Board approved the sale program's resurrection, construction class students have worked on homes for Habitat for Humanity. But there's something about building a house to sell for your own program that really makes a difference to how that program progresses, Frazier said.

"We have ownership. We have a vested interest and we can decide what we want to do with it," he said. "And students tend to value the quality for the money. They canít just throw stuff together. They understand itís gotta be really nicely done so it can be sold for a premium."

The Lebanon Community School District gave the class $160,000 for the project: $80,000 from last year's budget, the proceeds from the sale of a 4-acre parcel of land that used to house Crowfoot School, and another $80,000 from this year's budget.

The 64.6-by-136.6-foot lot at 901 W. Vine St. cost $60,415.18. Frazier is determined to stretch the balance over the remaining costs, but said he's already encountering unexpected obstacles ó including the hurricanes and fires that devastated areas throughout the nation.

"The prices of lumber are spiking, and building materials," he said. "We're looking at 23 percent more in materials than we originally budgeted. Weíre going to have to make something happen here to make it work."

Help has come from other construction firms in town, including R.J. Armstrong and Associates, which dug out the base for the home and put in a rock pad, and Weyerhaeuser, which has offered to help defray costs.

Frazier already will be working with other firms to do heating/ventilation, wiring and plumbing, all of which have to be completed by certified installers. However, those, too, will be learning projects, he said: The crews he'll work with plan to have the students involved with the installation so they'll learn and be able to take those skills with them if they choose to apply for their own construction jobs someday.

"Thereís just a lot of partners we have willing to do the extra things to make them work," he said.

When the house is completed ó Frazier is shooting for mid-May ó it will be on the market through the Laura Gillott Home Team, Keller Williams Realty. That's so it will be available to any possible purchaser.

Frazier said he and his students are committed to getting the project done on time, even if it means Saturdays or classes in winter weather.

"You work through conditions," he said. "We'll get rain gear and do the best we can."

In the end, he said, not only will someone be able to purchase a new house and provide seed money for another one, his students will have a better sense of their futures.

"I would like them to take away from this experience a positive ability to create. And an idea of what they would like to do with their future. And it may not be construction," Frazier said. "If you realize that after doing this class you donít like building a house, thatís one thing you donít have to waste time on in the future to see if youíd like to do it."

Many vocational students have no particular interest in a four-year university experience, he went on, and that doesn't have to be a drawback.

"If you can teach them a skill so they can feed themselves and a family, you are creating very substantial members of society that are not going to be a drag on society," he said.


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