Tiny houses may be trendy, but park model houses are more ideal for learning! Over the past two and a half school years, our Geometry in Construction (GIC) students have been working to build a park model home from the ground up. This past August, the house was finally completed and loaded up to go meet its new home.
What’s the difference between park model and tiny? A tiny house is a house up to 250 sq. ft. and a park model house is a 400 sq. ft. home. Unlike a tiny house, the park model home had a full bathroom, kitchen and bedroom. The house the students worked on was 13 ft. wide by 40 ft long. It was built on a flatbed trailer from Vertical Works in Elk Creek, Wisconsin and the students created the layouts, built and shieved walls, doors, windows, ceiling, etc. Basically whatever is needed to build a house, our students did it!
Geometry in Construction teacher, Brian Collier, assisted in the house building process over the two and a half year time span.
“This was the first time Ridgewood has ever done a project like this. You know the first time you do anything there’s going to be growing pains,” said Collier.
Since this was the first time doing this project, it took longer than anticipated. In the future, they want to speed up the project to make it a year long. However, because it took longer, more students had the opportunity to work on the house. Over the time span approximately 90-100 students (each class had 34/35 students) got to assist on building the house.
Students would start off by practicing skills in the workshop. They would do smaller projects, such as practice making walls on mock then they would go and execute the skills on the actual house. The teachers would also bring in trade professionals, like electricians and carpenters, to teach the students different trades.
The electrician business agent for the local 134 Electricians Union came to Ridgewood to help with the electricity in the house. The electrician came in and did a small project with the students and then the next day would work with the students along-side as if they were on the job site. The electrician who came in to assist ended up leaving as the owner of the park model home. He bought it for him and his family to use as a vacation home. The house now sits on a lake at his family property in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.
In the future, the teachers of GIC would like to line up a buyer for the home before committing to building the house. This way the buyer can specify the customizations for their wants and needs. This will help dictate the rest of the building needs for the house because they will know where the house will “live” once it leaves Ridgewood High School.
This was an excellent experience for the students and the teachers. It was a learning experience for all involved because this was the first time any of them had built a house. GIC does not plan to begin another house this year, but instead will work on smaller builds that will prepare them for their next park model home. The next park model home is set to be built during the 2020-2021 school year. Ridgewood students have gained valuable real world experience through GIC, that has resulted in a family actually living in the finished product!