Workers at 8927 Pierce St., in Blaine, hustled to prepare the 2,300-square-foot, detail-rich Craftsman-style home for its first open house Wednesday.
The foreman sent one to wipe plaster dust off the upstairs kickboards; another was dispatched to vacuum; a few more worked to sort and clear a pile of tools and construction supplies from the driveway.
This was no ordinary construction project. About 70 percent of the work, from framing to finishing, was performed by students in Mark Voigt's Construction Trades Program at Spring Lake Park High School. Wednesday's open house was the culmination of two years of work, the last hurrah before the house is inspected and put up for sale.
Over the course of the project, 51 students worked on the house, a mile and a half from school. It was all part of a class that stretches over a full school year. Usually, students start as juniors; most see a second year through. For their work, they get as many as nine credits from Alexandria Technical College. This year, students also finished 10 hours of OSHA safety certification training.
One of the biggest challenges, Voigt said, was keeping up students' faith that the three-bedroom, 21/2-bath home would be finished before the end of the school year.
The students owned up to their doubts.
"Last week, there wasn't even cement on the driveway," said senior Arias Oliver.
"A month ago there wasn't even paint on the walls," said another senior, Jay Sandberg.
But by the evening celebration, the house stood in all its freshly painted, newly sodded, scrubbed and polished glory.
"Any new ideas, we tried 'em," said Travis Costello, a junior.
That meant kick-out flashing on the eaves, James Hardy cement siding, in-floor heating in the bathrooms (including the shower floors), a whole-house stereo/intercom system, granite countertops, motion-activated lights in the pantry and more.
On Friday, painting, carpeting and electrical contractors were at the site, touching up the students' work and finishing jobs that had to be done by a licensed contractor. Often, Voigt said, contractors are repeat participants -- sometimes former students.
Students have built 15 houses since the program started in 1981. Administrators aren't releasing the cost of this structure, but said they expect that they'll make up the investment when it's sold. A few seniors will receive college scholarships; the rest of the proceeds will go to next year's project.
The house next door, which Voigt's students finished in 2005, sold for about $347,000, but he wasn't betting on a sales price this time.
"This one is nicer, but it's a different market," he said.
Melanie Epp and her husband, Dan, had some trepidation about buying a student-built house, she admitted, but the inspector put her doubts to rest.
"He said it was probably better-built than most of the houses he'd seen," she said. "We love it here. We're very happy with it."
As he watched his students work, Voigt said, he was reminded of the Bible verse: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required."
The parents give their kids, he noted. The district gives its resources, with faith that he'll deliver. Community members and high school staff offered their help. The open house, he said, was one way to honor that trust and support.
"Once we did it, we realized it's a nice chance for parents to come and see what their students have done," he said, adding that he also expected visits from former students, neighbors and staff.
Senior Josh Ramirez was one of several seniors wrapping up his second year.
"I really like it," he said. "If I had the money, I'd buy it."
Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409