John Coghlan, Vocational Building Trades class instructor, made a difficult decision this past year; one that ultimately, he said, was a result of a downed economy.
“We knew probably back in July that it was getting a little bit close, that if we didn’t sell last year’s home, that we were going to have to make a decision pretty quick.”
Coghlan said, “This is probably the last year for this class. In its place, we’re going to be offering an internship, job-shadowing opportunity where a student might go out and work for a construction company and really get a feel for what they do.”
Although the house his class built did end up selling in November last year, he decided to stop building a house, due to last year’s house going unsold through July. Coghlan said the decision had to be made by the class’s advisory committee in July because the permitting process for setting up contractors takes at least two weeks to complete.
“Ten years ago, a bank would’ve backed us with that situation. But right now, with the economy, we’re not able to do that,” he said.
The sale of the class’s home coincided with encouraging numbers for the housing industry from the fall. According to Robert Cowan, senior vice president of F.C. Tucker Company, home sales in Carmel were up by 9 percent. In addition, The Indianapolis Star reported that Hamilton County overall saw 6.4 percent growth in October. However, despite those encouraging numbers, the committee decided to not build a house this year and have the class do smaller, renovation-based projects instead.
Kevin Sheek, Vocational Building Trades student and senior, said, “We finished painting a house of one the neighbors from last year’s house built. We did that painting job, and then we did a dry-wall finishing job in a basement in the same neighborhood.”
The work students have done so far has aimed to improve their skills. Sheek said the work is more skill-based and strategized, with those skills being most applicable later in life. Those long-lasting, skill-based opportunities are what Coghlan said he has been aiming for this year.
“What I’m looking for when we do take on other projects is, what is the value to the students? Any student who buys a home, whether it’s in three years or 20 years, they’re going to deal with maintenance on a home,” Coghlan said.
The most notable project the class has taken on this year is working with Chaucie’s Place. Students are renovating an abandoned house at 106th Street and Gray Road by installing cabinets and dry-wall and painting the interior and exterior of the home. The house currently being worked on by the class will become an office used by the charity.
Cowan said via email that a good time to build for the class would likely be in the fall of 2012. “However, that is dependent on increased job growth and an uptick in the economy, and for the rest of the school year, the class will continue its work on the office for Chaucie’s Place. Despite the course being redefined for the next school year, Sheek said he would still recommend anyone to take it.
“I’d definitely take construction classes because there’s always problems going on in your house,” he said. “It saves money, and it’s a good skill to have.”