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Sierra College construction technology students complete home in Auburn

Project was sponsored by Placer County Contractors Association
By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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For a group of Sierra College students, the “homework” is done and their finished product is ready to go on the market. During the past year the school’s construction technology vocational training classes built a home in Auburn. The home will be listed with a price tag in the mid-$300s, according to Patrick Remington, Placer County Contractors Association president. Remington and Sierra College Construction Technology instructor Craig Chamberlain coordinated the project. The PCCA purchased the land and donated the materials. “I think it went quite well,” Remington said. “We have a few things we’ve learned from it. … We’ll be able to apply the things we’ve learned for next year.” During fall and spring semester classes, approximately 75 students got hands-on home-building experience at the job site. “The students did a good job,” Remington said. “The things that matter most — hanging doors and finishing cabinets — things the purchaser will see — they did a very good job. The students built and installed all the cabinets themselves. They did a very good job.” Building houses is not something new for Chamberlain’s classes. What was new was accomplishing it in one year, a real benefit for students enrolled in the one-year certificate program. “Normally it is a two-year process,” Chamberlain said. “(This time) students were able to take classes and get involved in all the different aspects. It was great fun and a great learning experience. … Being able to see the beginning and the end, they got a more well rounded feeling of what was going on with construction and a greater feeling for what it means to be a general contractor. That was what we were hoping for and that’s what we saw.” The program blended classroom training along with onsite work. “We’d spend time in the classroom during the first few weeks,” Chamberlain said. “Then they’d get instruction on the job site and do (the task). It is real experience pouring concrete and framing a house.” Students didn’t complete quite as much as hoped because of the winter and spring’s persistent and drawn-out rainy season. “I’m a general contractor along with being president of the PCCA,” Remington said. “I feel it is a lot easier for me dealing with my subs working on a schedule. The students only have a certain amount of school days during the week. When they have a rain delay, the schedule goes a little bit slower. We have learned things we’ll be able to do concurrently with them. “Plus we had a lot of generous members who donated items. Sometimes those donations don’t work out as fast as going out to buy something. Sometimes it takes a little longer and you have to be willing to accept that. A generous donation you don’t want to turn down. You might have to wait but it is well worth it.” Enthusiasm for the project was high. Several students came back to work on the house after the semester ended, Chamberlain said. Contractors association members pitched in to complete the job. The 2,000-plus square-foot-home on Lilac Lane has three bedrooms and two and a half baths. “There are a lot of features that are very high end — cabinets, countertops, windows. There are Anderson windows, so they are a step up from what is usually installed,” Remington said. “There’s a 40-year roof instead of 30-year. Because it is the insulated concrete forms, the exterior wall is all concrete and foam so the insulation rate on it is very high. (There are)a few things you can see with the naked eye and a lot of things about how it is put together that the buyer will be pleased with.” Now the PCCA is looking at locations in Auburn and Lincoln for the coming school year’s home-building site. “(Sierra College’s) parameters are that it must be within 20 miles of the school,” Remington said. Classes begin at the end of August. The next house will continue to incorporate green technology, giving students an opportunity to work with green products and learn how to install them. “We’re talking to the solar instructor and he’d like to incorporate some solar into it,” Chamberlain said. “We’re looking at that aspect as well.” Chamberlain has high praise for the PCCA. “Working with the contractors association and all the help they’ve given was just a blessing,” he said. “This was all the support of the supplies with lumber, different kinds of materials like windows and drywall. It was amazing. (We received) all kinds of donations — time and materials.” Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com.