Students learn the art of home construction
The community of Alta has benefitted greatly from the carpentry skills of the high schoolers enrolled in Iowa Central Community College's building and trades course.
Under the direction of instructor Kim Piercy, 10 new homes have been constructed and snapped up by residents. The group is about to complete its 11th home.
The new homes have added charm to the community and given several young people over the years confidence and pride that they helped complete such a magnificent project.
The program has been offered for 14 years and gives the students, juniors and seniors, enrolling in the program the opportunity to get out of the text book and have plenty of hands on experience with hammers, drills, plumbing and electrical equipment, cement and saws.
There is a great deal of satisfaction seeing the empty ground be filled with a house.
"We give them as many hands on skills as possible," said Piercy. "This is a good deal for the kids," he added saying not only do they learn new skills, "it makes them more responsible."
Piercy discussed the financial end of the projects. "We couldn't survive without the Alta Industrial Board. They are our backers. They buy the lot, materials and pick the blueprint."
The houses are finished with no trims or frills, allowing the purchasers of the house, who inturn pay the Alta Industrial Board, the opportunity to complete the house in the colors and cabinets they choose.
"This," Piercy said, "gives the people who purchase the homes a feeling of ownership."
The project begins at the beginning of the school year, with the goal to have the basement laid, the framing complete and shingling done by winter so the participants can work inside. By the end of the school year a new house stands in the lot.
"Once we get to the stage we are at, we get excited knowing we have another house completed," the instructor said.
The building and trades participants come from Alta, Storm Lake, Newell-Fonda. Sioux Central and Schaller-Crestland. With a group of over 30 students, and to meet the open time slots for the as many interested students as possible, Piercy has two two-hour sections - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. He complimented all the schools involved who are willing to adjust the schedules of the students wishing to take part. The students taking part in this ICCC-sponsored course receive college credit, at no cost to them.
This year's house is 1,800-square feet, includes a full basement, two bedrooms, a bathroom, a large master bedroom and bathroom, a fireplace, kitchen, dining and living room areas and a three-car garage.
"I've always had good kids," Piercy said. "I give them a task and they keep busy at it. We always have a mixed group of kids that want to be in the program." He added that since they come from different schools, it gives them the chance to become acquainted with new kids. He stressed that he strives for perfection and makes sure the work is being done correctly.
There have been several students taking part in the building and trades course that have realized they truly enjoy the work and have gone on to have a career involving construction work.
There has never been any trouble selling the homes. In fact, contacts have been made and the location of next year's home has been determined - and it is already sold.