Janesville72.6°

High school builders have a new partner in construction

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
April 11, 2008
— The Janesville high school house-building class is at it again this year, but with a difference.

The district has ended its 13-year relationship with Habitat for Humanity and now is working with the South Central Wisconsin Builders Association.


One difference is apparent when walking through the house that the Advanced Construction students have been working on since last fall.


The Habitat houses were basic living quarters. No frills.


The SCWBA house has a fireplace, an attached garage, arched doorways and other details that add up to a fancier product, said Tim Weber of Webco.


Webco provided the site and organized donations of materials and expertise. Webco will sell the house at the end of the school year. Other builders will take their turns in years to come.


John Riley, a 2007 Parker grad, dropped in to see the house last week and noticed the difference.


“It looks like they’re getting to do a lot more of the detail stuff,” Riley said.


The three-bedroom ranch house features a 9-foot-high basement ceiling, three egress windows in the basement, a whirlpool tub, a cathedral ceiling over the open-plan living room/kitchen, crown molding, a brick patio and more.


“Everything is a lot more complicated, so for these kids, this was a big step up,” Weber said.


And that’s good for the students because they’re learning a lot of things they wouldn’t have learned by building a Habitat house, Weber said.


And because they have more skills, those students should be better able to compete for jobs in the house-building trades.


Compared to their predecessors who built Habitat houses, “they have a huge leg up,” Weber said.


Students working on the project say they like the chance to learn by doing.


“It’s fun, the whole knowing that you’ll have to know these trades in the future, and you’ll be able to do these things in the future on your own house—save a few bucks,” said Mike Tabbert, 17.


Teacher Joe Kruser said he has learned new skills right along with his students, but Webco workers always are there to show the way.


“We’re getting exposed to a lot more updated building materials and techniques,” Kruser said.


“And if it wasn’t right, they took it out. That’s part of the learning curve,” Weber said.


“The whole partnership is just tenfold better than what we had before,” Kruser said.


Mark Ryan, a Webco trim carpenter, was on site during a recent visit by The Janesville Gazette.


Ryan patiently was guiding students through the process of installing a railing on the basement stairs.


Ryan said he came up in his trade the hard way after he graduated from Craig in 1991.


“I got thrown to the wolves,” Ryan recalled. “I didn’t have this class.”



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