News Column

Students from Jefferson-Lewis BOCES looking for pre-sale buyer for student-built home

August 18, 2014

By Whitney Randolph, Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.

Aug. 18--GLENFIELD -- Students enrolled in the Howard G. Sackett Technical Center's construction program are looking for an advance buyer for a home they plan to build.

The Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services career and technical education students will be under the supervision of instructor Jared Zehr and will be building a modular home from the ground up as part of the hands-on learning portion of the class.

They will be working on the home throughout the 2014-15 school year. The home will be 1,700 square feet and will be available for pickup in June.

This is the first time Howard G. Sackett Technical Center has asked for a buyer before the house is built.

Tracy J. Gyoerkoe, director of career, technical, adult and continuing education at Jefferson-Lewis BOCES, said the change was made to help with the sale of the home and to create a better experience for the students and the buyer.

According to Mrs. Gyoerkoe, in the past, when the students have built the home before having a buyer, it has often taken awhile to secure one. Without a buyer, the house sits on the temporary foundation, which halts the students from working on a new home until it is sold.

The other thought behind the presale is that it will give the buyer more power and the ability to make more decisions about how the home will be built.

"The plan is to have the people involved with the process so they are more eager to get involved," Mrs. Gyoerkoe said. "The person who buys it can take the architect-approved plans as is or make modifications."

Mr. Zehr said, "The exciting thing about pre-selling is you can accommodate the individual tastes of the buyer."

A buyer can submit his or her own plans for the home, but they need to be approved and completed by an accredited architectural firm. Currently, the plans have been drawn up by the firm Wilbur Thesier PE, Carthage, according to Mrs. Gyoerkoe.

The buyer pays for the materials and the school enters a contract with the person. The school buys the materials and the buyer reimburses the cost.

The house will have drywall, insulation, windows and doors. The homeowners install the cabinets, flooring, appliances and anything else that is unfinished with the house. The owner also is responsible for the relocation costs of the home from the building site to its permanent placement.

Two programs are involved in the construction of the home, carpentry and electrical. The carpentry students will be working on the project for the full year and the electrical will be working on it for about a month, Mr. Zehr said.

He said the students will begin the year with practice building projects, and by mid-September, they will start cutting the materials for the house. The actual construction of the home will start at the end of October, and the hope is to have the roof on the house before the students leave for winter break, according to Mr. Zehr.

He said he has noticed a change in the students' motivation when they are building the house as compared with just building the practice projects.

"I am looking forward to meeting the students and to see their growth. Most don't even know how to use tools when they come into the class, and by the end they are building a house," Mr. Zehr said.

The school is hoping to secure a buyer as soon as possible. If it cannot, Mrs. Gyoerkoe said she is unsure whether the students will be able to build the house.

Mrs. Gyoerkoe said students have been building houses for at least 25 years.

"The program has a very rich curriculum. It shows what it will be like to be in the workforce and what real life would be like," Mrs. Gyoerkoe said.

Students interested in becoming involved in the program are urged to contact their school guidance counselor. She also said anyone interested in purchasing the house should call her at 779-7200.

Sale is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Times staff writer Katherine Clark Ross contributed to this report.


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