Despite a weak economy and a troubled housing market, hundreds of people wandered through the annual Missoula Building Industry Association’s Trade Show at the University of Montana this weekend.
By all accounts, the crowd had home improvement projects on their mind, and came to do more than look. They came with questions for the homebuilders and suppliers who were on hand with everything from the latest in glass tiles made from recycled materials to energy efficient furnaces to closet designers who offered ways to make the most out of tiny spaces.
But the one booth that truly stopped people in their tracks and prompted praise was the one that showed off a student-built home.
That home, a charming three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath, 1,484-square-foot house, is under construction at 2604 Roderick Way in Missoula.
A schematic of the finished house, which was on display, promises a lovely new addition to the Streamside subdivision in Orchard Homes. Yet what captivated most passersby was the fact that the $340,000 energy-efficient custom home could be theirs for a mere $100.
The home is being raffled off on Sept. 26 to the first 5,000 ticket buyers who pay $100, said Lynn Stocking, associate dean of UM’s College of Technology. Although the raffle officially kicked off at the trade show, tickets will be sold until all 5,000 are gone.
“We are calling it the Building Futures Program and it is the first time in Missoula that we’ve done something like this,” Stocking said. “We’ve teamed up with the Missoula Building Industry Association and the high school Flagship program to build a student-built house.
“We know it’s a great idea that has worked really well in other states and in other communities around Montana, so we decided to try it here.”
Students in UM’s COT carpentry program and the high school Flagship program are doing all the work under the expert guidance of Kim Zupan and David Neu of COT’s carpentry program, Mike Nichols of Tamarack Construction, Jim Schafer of Straightedge Construction, and Wade Hoyt and Carrie Hall of Hoyt Homes Inc.
“It’s been really fun and a great way to learn,” said Dan Rupkalvis, one of the COT’s student carpenters working on the project. “We are learning everything from the ground up – everything from foundation work to finish work.”
Attention to detail and excellence in execution are among the major lessons being taught in and around the house.
“This home is being built really well, with a lot of pride and our teachers are sticklers for perfection,” Rupkalvis said. “If something isn’t done right, we do it over again.”
Construction on the home and all the interior work will be completed this spring, said Mick Smith, one of the COT student carpenters.
Like Rupkalvis, Smith is hopeful that construction work around western Montana will pick up in the next year or so, just when he’ll complete the two-year program.
Smith, who already has a UM business degree, decided to go through the COT’s carpentry program for the single reason that he loves the trade.
“My family is in the business – they build in Missoula and the Bitterroot, and I’ve worked with them some,” he said. “I just love working with my hands and building things, and I wanted to learn the trade even better and
learn about the new building techniques and materials.”
The fine art of reading building codes and architectural plans is one of many valuable lessons he’s mastered so far at the Roderick Way house.
Eric Redfern said the construction project and COT program have been worth every penny of his tuition dollars. The 31-year-old enrolled in the program after he got laid off in 2007 from his job with a construction company in Bigfork.
“I’m older and wiser now, and I decided to go to school and further my education,” said Redfern, who is enrolled in a college program for the first time in his life.
“I’m finding it to be great – it’s a great experience,” Redfern said of his new life as a college student.
As for the house he’s helping to build, that has been a rewarding experience.
“I’m learning a ton,” Redfern said. “And the home is going to beautiful.”
HOW TO BUY RAFFLE TICKETS:
Raffle tickets for the student-built home cost $100 each and can be purchased in Missoula at MBIA, 1840 South Ave. W., or Junkermeier, Clark, Campanella & Stevens, 2620 Connery Way. Purchasers must be 18 or older, and prize winners must be Montana residents.
A minimum of 3,500 and a maximum of 5,000 tickets will be sold. The raffle drawing will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, at Farmers State Bank, located at 3130 N. Reserve St. in Missoula. Ticket purchasers need not be present to win.
In addition to the Grand Prize home, three other prizes will be awarded: first prize, a $20,000 car; second prize, a $10,000 boat or recreational vehicle; and third prize, a $5,000 home entertainment system.
For more information, call 543-4423 or go to www.buildmissoula.com/index.php/student-built-house-raffle.
Reporter Betsy Cohen can be reached at 523-5253 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.