Fourth Kalispell student-built home ready for debut

May 4, 2019

The Kalispell Student Built Homes program will put its fourth house, located at 621 Corporate Drive in Kalispell, on the market May 13.

An open house is scheduled Friday, May 10, to showcase the 2,129-square-foot, two-story house built by high school students from Flathead and Glacier high schools and Linderman Education Center. The house features three bedrooms, two and a half baths and a deck off the kitchen.

The master bedroom, located on the first floor, features a walk-in closet, with custom shelving in addition to a walk-in shower in the master bath. A spacious laundry/utility room is also located on the first floor off the garage and has plenty of storage.

Two bedrooms with views of Spring Creek are located upstairs in addition to the second bathroom. Off the stairway is an open space that could be used as another living room or children’s playroom.

Some of the details of note are 9-foot ceilings (a section of which is wood-lined downstairs); canned lighting, hand-textured walls, a kitchen island and balusters and handrails completed by welding students.

The listing price is $344,950.

An open house is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 10.

While the program originated as a Flathead High School construction class, it began accepting students from Glacier and Linderman last year, said Flathead High School industrial arts and construction teacher Brock Anderson, who oversees the program in partnership with general contractors and subcontractors around the valley.

A prerequisite for enrolling in the construction class is Woods 1 or Introduction to Building Trades. For safety reasons, the class size is limited to between 30 and 40 students.

Students who take the class receive 360 apprenticeship hours recorded with the Montana Department of Labor, according to Anderson, and learn all areas of construction beginning with finding property lines and where the house will be situated.

“The first day we find property pins,” Anderson said. “From the excavating, to the concrete, to the framing, to the electrical - they get all the aspects of home construction, which is pretty cool, because when they go out there they may be doing Sheetrock, or they may just be doing insulation [and here] they get a bigger general picture.”

Whether or not students go into the trades out of high school, Anderson said the skills learned are beneficial to anyone who plans to become a homeowner.

“They’re getting exposed to all the skilled trades in construction,” Anderson said.

On Wednesday, most students in the construction class were outside the house preparing the ground for sod and installation of an irrigation system. Two students were busy sawing wood to build stairs for the owners of neighboring homes built by students in past years. One of the students was Glacier High School senior Tori Williams, whom Anderson said has been a standout student this year.

“She is one of the best students we’ve had in a long time,” Anderson said.

Williams’ interest in construction stems from her parents who work in the industry.

“My first project was with my dad. We had to build two bedrooms down in a basement in Libby, Montana,” said Williams, who helped her dad frame the rooms.

That process of beginning with a few materials, then seeing the finished product got her hooked. “Where it started off with some screws and some wood and now it’s a wall,” Williams said.

Typically, the construction classes covers two periods, but with openings in her schedule, Williams decided to take four periods.

One of the areas of construction she was surprised to find she enjoyed was flooring.

“Flooring was one of my favorites because there’s a lot more that goes into it then I thought,” she said, standing inside the student-built home.

One of the main projects she was responsible for was building the toe kicks, a technical name for the recessed area beneath cabinets and the floor, she explained, pointing below a kitchen cabinet.

After graduation, she plans to start working in the trades right away with her dad and “start from the bottom and work my way up.”

And Williams, who is one of two females in the construction program, has learned it may be a challenging road ahead in forging a career in construction in a predominately male industry.

As a girl, she’s already felt she’s had to go the extra mile in proving her abilities to her male counterparts “to take her seriously.” She foresees this will be a continued expectation as she pursues a career in construction, but she’s driven to do the work she loves.

“Doing this program has helped me really prepare myself. There is definitely a fine line from when I can be a girlie-girl and be a guy,” she said, explaining it’s like flipping a switch.

Any frustrating moments are countered by others that have boosted her confidence in feeling her skills were valued and opinions respected, such as the invitation to attend meetings during which her teacher and professionals such as volunteers Kirk Hammerquist and Tim McLean, who have decades of experience in the construction industry between them, make decisions about where to locate the sink on the island, she said.

“It’s just really nice to know they valued my opinion a lot,” Williams said.

Her ultimate goal is to start her own business and she wants to stick with residential construction.

“My main goal is to be good at flipping houses,” Williams said.

For more information about the program, visit westernbuildingcenter.com/student-house.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.