Student-Built Home Taking Shape

Walls are up on the ninth student-built home in Sturgeon Bay and they hope to get the roof on before the first snow falls. The group hopes to finish the 2,700-square foot home by the end of the school year, but will carry the experience they gain with them for the rest of their life.

“Quite a few students have expressed interest already to go into the construction field, which is the whole point of this,” said Seth Wilson, technology education instructor at Sturgeon Bay High School and instructor for the project. “Even if they don’t they’re going to walk away with so many skills that they can use the rest of their life. It’s very valuable for them.”

The program took a short hiatus in the 2014-15 school year due to transitions in staffing, but was brought back this year under the Door County Business & Education Partnership funded by the Door County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC).

“It’s an incredible program,” Wilson said. “We’ve had subcontractors come onto the job site who were in the program and they talk to the students about how much this program meant to them to get them where they are today and that’s a pretty strong message.”

“I like hands-on working, the outdoors and having fun, meeting new people,” said Caleb Buchberger, senior at Southern Door High School. If his planned career as a diesel mechanic in the army doesn’t work out, Buchberger trusts this experience will help him in many other jobs.

“There’s lots of jobs opening up,” said Wilson. “There’s a lot of people in the construction field getting toward the end of their career and those positions are all going to need to be filled and, as the labor market tightens up, those wages will continue to increase.”

The 11 Door County students participating in the project will also get a jumpstart on college education in construction. Each student earns 12 credits toward the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) construction certificate – a full semester in what is a two-semester program.

“The students get to see the whole process from start to finish,” Wilson said. “They take a lot of pride in what they’re doing and that’s really important.”

Korey Mallien, Business & Education Partnership Manager with DCEDC, said the house will be put on the market when it is completed. While there has already been interest from homebuyers, the house is being built as a spec home. Mallien did not give an estimate for the market price of the home.

Proceeds from the home sale will go toward funding the next home under the program.

“The only goal of the project is to sustain it for years to come so that we can continue to give kids the opportunity to do what these kids are doing right now,” Mallien said.

While students are generally the only workers on site daily, the group receives guidance from PortSide Builders and Van’s Lumber & Custom Builders.

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