Building trades: West Iron students completing Bates Township home


Staff Writer

BATES – West Iron County High School’s building trades class allows students to gain valuable, real-world experience and area residents to save some money on building their new homes.

Each year, students in the class help build a home for an area resident. This year’s home, owned by Scott Whitehead and his wife Fay, is located on Bates-Amasa Road in Bates Township.

The popular program has been around for nearly 40 years now.

“We have a pretty good history,” said building trades instructor Jeff Swenski. “People know about it and get on the wait list.”

Currently, the wait list to get a home built goes out to 2037. However, Swenski noted that people move on and off of the list frequently. The owners of this year’s home signed up with the school in 2003.

Homeowners must build the home’s foundation, pay for materials, pay for the students’ mileage, and pay the school 18 percent of the value of the materials installed. The percentage helps the school to pay for tools and scaffolding.

According to Whitehead, it’s a win-win situation.

“It’s a cost savings for us and it benefits the students,” he said. “They’re getting skills they can put on their resumes.”

This year, there are 13 students in the building trades class. They are juniors and seniors who have taken prerequisite courses in woodworking or drafting.

Students started building upon the home’s foundation once school began in September, and they have continued working throughout the school year.

Swenski pointed out that students do most everything except plumbing and some wiring. Professionals are brought in to complete those tasks, he added.

Students still need to finish the home’s siding, flooring, and painting before the scheduled open house event in mid-May.

Information about the open house will be released at a later date.

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