CADILLAC — Two years ago, a school bus pulled into an empty lot on 45 and 1/2 Road. Students were soon standing in the yard with instructors from the nearby Wexford-Missaukee Career Tech Center — with shovels.
They broke ground on a two-year home build project, a five-bedroom, 1,680 square-foot home with an open floorplan, a finished basement, a large covered deck, and a two-car garage.
Since then, the bus has gone back and forth, dropping off students from the Applied Construction Technology program for either the morning or afternoon work sessions.
“Our primary goal that first year was to get the house weather tight so we didn’t have to worry about the elements,‘ said instructor Brad VanBuren. “They learned excavation and then we went to concrete walls. Once the foundation was complete, we did floor, wall and roof framing. This year we are finishing the exterior and interior, hanging doors, trim work, installing cabinets, painting and flooring.‘
The house is a sage green beauty with stacked stone veneers. The interior walls and cabinets are done in soft greys. A large laundry room near the entryway has a porcelain tile floor. The living room/dining room area features cathedral ceilings and large windows with a slider facing the backyard.
“We have a building committee at the school that we run (design) decisions by,‘ said VanBuren. “Both myself and my assistant (Doug Ingleright) are licensed builders and we build too. So we try to keep everything in trend. When we are not in school, we are building.‘
“Many of the students in our program are hands-on, visual learners,‘ VanBuren said of the 47 juniors and seniors who enrolled this year. “The schools they come from have strict academic requirements so this gives them a break from book work to create a project with their hands.‘
It also gives them a skill that is in high demand.
“The labor shortage is worse than ever,‘ VanBuren said. “In the last month, I’ve had 20 to 30 local contractors call looking for workers ... we have several students going on to study architecture, I have a few going into construction management programs and some are going into apprenticeships with local contractors.‘
“I wanted to learn how to build a house from the ground up,‘ said Luke Welliver, a Heritage Christian senior. “First it was a big hole in the ground, then the walls came up, then the framing. It was a beautiful site to see it come together.‘
Welliver will study construction management at Ferris State University in the fall.
“Building a house is a real experience, you have to deal with schedule delays, subcontractors and mistakes,‘ said Doug Ingleright, paraprofessional. “So out of high school, there is lots of opportunity to make a good living, there is a high demand all over the country for any skilled trade.‘
On Saturday June 15, Jim Meier of Premier Realty will host an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. at the site, 5292 45 and 1/2 Road in Cadillac.
“They did a wonderful job on this home,‘ said Meier. “I know the neighbors are anxious to take a look. I think there will be a lot of interest.‘
The price of the home hasn’t been released yet.