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Weber School District sells student-built tiny home

By Emily Anderson standard-Examiner - | May 24, 2021
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Cameron Walker, left, and Dalton Richmond sit outside the tiny home they built as part of a construction class through the Weber School District on Saturday, May 22, 2021.

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Cameron Walker, left, and Dalton Richmond sit outside the tiny home they built as part of a construction class through the Weber School District on Saturday, May 22, 2021.

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Dalton Richmond, left, shows a Tiny House Expo and Sale attendee the details of the home he helped build as part of a construction class through the Weber School District on Saturday, May 22, 2021.

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The loft of a tiny home built as part of a construction class through the Weber School District is shown on Saturday, May 22, 2021.

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Attendees of the Weber School District's Tiny House Expo and Sale stand outside the tiny home students built as part of a construction class at Weber Innovation High School on Saturday, May 22, 2021.

OGDEN — As housing prices go up and availability is slim, people are increasingly looking to tiny homes as a solution to their struggle to find a place to live. In the Weber School District, one class of students has spent the last year learning to build one themselves.

“When they said we were building a tiny home, I was like, oh, tiny homes like that,” said Dalton Richmond, one of the students in the construction class, motioning to a miniature model of a home on display at the district’s Tiny House Expo and Sale on Saturday. “And then they came here and it was actually like a trailer.”

The house Richmond and his classmates constructed was put on display Saturday as the district accepted bids on it, with all of the money from the purchase going back into building more tiny homes next school year.

Starting last August, approximately 25 students in the district built the first home from the trailer up in a warehouse behind Weber Innovation High School. They framed, wired and insulated it, then installed the walls and windows, ceiling and floor.

The construction class is one of the district’s many career and technical education — commonly referred to as CTE — classes, in which students learn trade skills in preparation for a potential future career. Much of the newfound knowledge, however, has practical applications outside of whatever job students end up in.

“I firmly believe this is something they’ll use for the rest of their lives, whether they use this as a career and this is what they do, some sort of construction something or design, some trade, or if they want to build their own house or build a shed,” said Ryan Ortega, the construction teacher.

After the approximately eight months it took to build the house, another CTE class at Bonneville High School focused on interior design took the reins. A truck hauled the tiny house on its trailer foundation to the high school in Washington Terrace, where it stayed for about three weeks while students there painted, shopped for and decorated it.

“They were literally using all of the things they learned in class, and it was real,” said interior design teacher Maren Malan. “They were able to really do it.”

The hands-on project boosted interest in both Ortega’s and Malan’s classes, they said, as more and more students have signed up.

Next year, even more students across the district will have the chance to participate as the growing construction class builds more tiny houses, giving architecture and interior design classes at each of the four traditional high schools the opportunity to draw up blueprints and decorate the homes. Contributions from next year’s architecture students will be the first — the construction class handled the design of the structure this year, Ortega said.

According to district CTE Director Rod Belnap, the tiny home was sold Saturday for approximately $50,000. That money will fund the cost of materials next fall. And the following spring, the district will host another celebration to recognize the accomplishments of CTE students and auction off the houses.

By then, many of the students who built the inaugural tiny house, like Richmond, will be graduated and working or seeking a higher education. Richmond will graduate early next year, then he plans on furthering his skills at a technical college, he said. He’s still unsure of what program he will enroll in.

“There’s a whole bunch of different directions I could go in,” Richmond said.

One thing is certain, though: The construction class has prepared him for whatever he’s going on to next. At his after-school job framing houses, Richmond is already using many of the skills he’s learned.

“I think this is the one class I’m actually going to remember for my whole life,” Richmond said. “It’s crazy, but you never really expected to learn how much you learned from this house. It doesn’t seem like it, but just from that little warehouse over there, you go there every morning and you never know what you’re going to do there.”

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