The Project

UPDATE: The students are on schedule to complete this House #2 in record time.  House #1, completed a year ago, took 15 months for construction.  This House #2 will be completed in 9 months and that includes down time for the school’s summer and winter breaks.  The house is scheduled to be pushed out of the shop and craned onto awaiting trailers on November 12, 2013.  On the 13th, the trailers will transport the modules and roof sections to the site in Lake Worth where it will become an assembled, dried-in, home by sun down that day.

The project is a new, three-bedroom, two-bathroom, single-story house containing 1206 square feet of air conditioned living space and with a front porch and an attached, back shed.  It is comprised of 4, modular sections all being fabricated from raw materials by the Construction Academy students inside of their shop at the school (see “The Academy” for further information about the Academy’s teaching program).  The students will also build and waterproof the roof in sections so that it can be transported to the property and hoisted on top of the installed house modules.

The Academy’s past experience building the Ticket Building directly on the school’s campus showed the faculty and administration that they needed to try and stay on campus for future construction projects to maintain control of the classes and the construction process. The Choice Programs department had heard about a school in the Keys that had worked with Habitat for Humanity to build a modular house in their school’s shop and then transporting it to a property owned by Habitat.  That spawned the idea of the school district working with the Palm Beach County chapter of Habitat to build a modular house here.  Habitat’s executive director, Bernard Godek, thought having the students build a house for Habitat was a remarkable idea for both Habitat, for the students’ Academy training, and to give the students a chance to give back to their community.

After two years of planning and contractual conditions were worked out between Habitat and the school district, the first house was completed by the Academy in November of 2012.  On November 13th, it was loaded onto 7 tractor-trailers.  On November 14th, it was transported to the Saranac Avenue site in West Gate and hoisted through the air and onto the foundation where it became a home.  On February 22, 2013, after Habitat completed the remaining work (siding, roof shingles, finished flooring, tying electrical and plumbing together, landscaping), a dedication ceremony was held to announce the success of the project and to turn the keys over to the owner and her family.

As you will read and see in other parts of this website, House 2 is well underway.  The students progress on House 2 is way ahead of their schedule they set in building House 1.  It is anticipated that House 2 will be ready for shipping and installation in November or December of 2013.

Habitat is providing the building lot and they will have the foundation built, ready to accept the students’ modular house components.  Habitat is also providing all of the construction materials for the students’ work.  The Simpson Strongtie Company has donated many of the metal connectors necessary to tie all of the wood framed parts together to meet the south Florida wind codes.  David Porter, the volunteer architect for the Academy, donated all of his time and efforts on the design, the construction drawings, permit coordination, and continues to consult and advise with the students on the construction work.  The students will be completing the house modules up through finished interiors, including electrical, plumbing, insulation, drywall, cabinets installed, doors and trim, and interior painting.  Windows and doors will be installed and the exterior walls will be clad with a building wrap membrane to make them dry for transporting and ready for Habitat’s installation of the siding.  The Academy will build the roof with trusses in strips that they will then dry in.  These will be hauled to the property at the same time the house modules are moved.  The roof can then be put in place within a half a day and sealed to protect the completed interiors.  Habitat’s volunteers will take over after the modules are in place on the foundation at the property, to complete the siding, roofing, joining together of the modules, installing finished flooring, building a driveway, and doing the landscaping.

Work on the house is being done by all students in the Academy (freshman through seniors).  Each of the Academy’s different class groups have been divided into four teams.  Each team for each class is in charge of all construction on their designated module.  When the next class comes in, they take over where the last class left off.  It is shift work training at its best.  Color coding of hard hats to identify the various teams was the brainchild of Bill Featherston, the GC adviser for the construction work, and it has helped the Academy teacher, Mr. Terkovich, to corral the students back to their respective modules to keep the progress moving along.  A team leader for each group was chosen by Mr. Terkovich to serve as the foreman and for quality control.  Mr. Featherson and the architect, David Porter, make periodic “job site” visits to the shop to look over the construction, advise about the next steps, and to show the students what, if anything, needs to be corrected.  The students are getting a real life construction site experience.  There are safety briefings (and reminders) and no one, including the adult advisers, subcontractors, and consultants assisting with the project, steps inside the fenced construction zone surrounding the work without wearing a hard hat, proper clothing, proper footwear, and eye protection.  Each  student has already received his/her 30-hour OSHA construction safety training and certificate as a part of the program taught by Mr. Terkovich (a certified OSHA trainer).

Habitat has selected a deserving family to be the owner of this house.  The chosen owner, Widlene Cenom, will be visiting the school to see her new house under construction and so that the students can meet the person they are building for.

For plan review, permitting, and inspections, this project is also unique.  Martin Bixler, Director of Construction for Habitat, has worked out a joint relationship between the Palm Beach County Building Department and the City of Lake Worth to handle all inspections.  The County, will send its chief inspectors to the school to make all fabrication inspections and to help teach the students about inspections, acceptable work, and unacceptable work, just like they will experience in the real construction world.  All inspections of work to be done at the site will be handled by the City of Lake Worth’s building department.  The County will turn over a letter to Lake Worth when the modules are shipped to the site, certifying that the modules and roof sections meet all of the necessary building code provisions.

The project’s involvement will include an additional high school and other departments within Seminole Ridge.  Royal Palm Beach High School has an Air Conditioning Academy where students are trained in the installation and servicing of air conditioning systems.  Their students and instructor, Patrick Raney, will be providing the air conditioning installation work once the module units are installed at the property.   To properly document this important project, the photography and videography classes at the school will chronicle the construction process and progress from the beginning through to the end when the units are rolled out the door, transported to the site, and permanently placed onto the foundation.

The Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, a division of the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) College of Education, and the Florida Native Plant Society, are contributing time and expertise to design a native-species, environmentally-compatible, landscape for the property.  Their design will address low maintenance landscaping, low water-use species, and create an outside extension of the living environment for the family, all while using plants and trees that are indigenous to south Florida.