FVCC’s Student Built House Hits the Road and is Welcomed by Happy New Owners

At 8 a.m. last Thursday, Scott and Michelle Hadwin had a vacant lot next to their home.  By noon, construction crews were completing the assembly process of the Hadwin’s brand new home for Michelle’s father who relocated to the Flathead to be closer to his family and to get out of the rat race of big city living.

“I was ready to breathe clean air,” said Monty Clemenhagen, Michelle’s father who moved from Vancouver, British Columbia, three weeks ago.  “This is beautiful country.”

When looking for a home for Clemenhagen, the Hadwins kept an eye for something that would meet their needs perfectly.

So when the Hadwins, who own the McDonald’s restaurants in Kalispell, Whitefish and Libby, learned that the recently completed student built house constructed by students enrolled in Flathead Valley Community College’s building trades program was up for sale, they checked into it right away.

“We went and looked at it the same day we found out about it,” said Michelle.  “Within two to three days, we made an offer.”

The house was indeed perfect for the family’s needs.  The three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,400-square-foot home houses boasts multiple features including dual-glazed windows, full prefinished cabinets, energy efficient lighting systems, vaulted ceilings, walk-in closet, laminate countertops, low-flow toilets and all appliances.  Best of all, the home is transportable and could be easily moved to the Hadwin’s property in Kalispell.

“I like the floor plan.  It’s perfect for my dad and his needs,” said Michelle.  “I love the bathrooms and the bedrooms.  A lot of the characteristics are pretty basic, but that’s exactly what we were looking for.”

 

Nineteen building trades students, comprised of high school students enrolled in the college’s Running Start program and students ranging in age from mid-30s to 60s who were displaced from their previous jobs, spent last fall and spring semesters constructing the system-built house comprised of two halves measuring 700 square feet each.  They worked diligently and meticulously at the construction site building the home to meet code requirements as if the home was constructed on its permanent foundation.  What the students produced was a well-built home that could withstand the stress of being transported from one location to another.“The construction crew who transported the home was very impressed with the durability of the house,” said Building Trades Apprentice Coordinator Greg Waldrop who directed and supervised the students through the construction of the student built house.   “They couldn’t believe that the house resisted the typical outcomes that occur when houses are transported.”

According to Waldrop, last year was the Student Built House Program’s fifteenth year.  It also was the first year the students constructed a home of this kind.

“After evaluating our local housing market, we decided this type of home would best meet the needs of our local community,” said Waldrop.  “We love for our house to be purchased by a local resident, and a transportable home gives people more room for flexibility.”

Waldrop also understands the importance of providing his students with hands-on experience and how it prepares them for successful careers in the workforce.

“The Student Built House Program is a win-win,” he said.  “Our students benefit from the high value skill set they learn from working on the job, and our community members benefit by having the opportunity to purchase affordable, high-quality, well-built homes constructed by hardworking and dedicated students.”

The Hadwins couldn’t agree more.

“We’re so grateful that FVCC has this great program,” said Michelle.  “It’s very rewarding to be a part of this program knowing that this was an invaluable learning experience and that the students are learning the correct methods and techniques of construction.  This is a great way to give back and support our local college.”

At the Hadwin’s property on moving day, Clemenhagen sat on the sidelines in awe as he watched the second half of his new home being air lifted on a crane operated by Chuck Harmon of Harmon Crane and then placed seamlessly next to the other half of his home.

“It’s fantastic.  I’ve never seen anything put together like this,” he said.  “It’s unbelievable what they can do in this day and age.  The crane operator is super.  He makes every move count.  It’s very impressive.”

“Everyone laughs when I say this, but we feel this house was meant to be ours,” said Michelle.  “The color of the house is a mustard yellow color accented with a red ketchup-colored doors.  It coordinates perfectly with our home and with our business.”

Waldrop and the Student Built House Program will return for its 16th year this fall.  The college is offering four full-paid tuition and fees scholarships this year for area high school students who are committed to participating in the program.  The college is currently enrolling students in the program which begins today.

For more information on the program, contact Waldrop at 249-6584.  For scholarship information, contact Danelle Whitten at 756-3842.

 

Photo 1:  Half of Flathead Valley Community College’s first transportable Student Built House is airlifted to join its remaining half at its new home near Foys Lake.  The house was purchased by Scott and Michelle Hadwin, owners of the McDonald’s restaurants in Kalispell, Whitefish and Libby, as a home for Michelle’s father, Monty Clemenhagen.

Photo 2:  Susan Ross-Dykhuizen, front, president of Robert W. Ross Contractor, Inc. in Kalispell, visits with Michelle Hadwin while watching her crew assemble the Hadwins’ new home, FVCC’s Student Built House, August 25.

 

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