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Building Trades-Carpentry students to help build homes in new Habitat for Humanity of Waukesha County subdivision

Guests looking at renderings -- Habitat

On Friday, Aug. 26, Habitat for Humanity of Waukesha County held a groundbreaking event to celebrate its first-ever, 20-home subdivision located between Oakland Ave. and Greenfield Ave. in Waukesha. Domenica Park, on the former Aeroshade Inc. site, will provide homes to many hardworking families, and Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) will play an important role in making homeowners’ dreams a reality.

 Over the past 33 years, the organization has built 45 affordable houses for families who are unable to purchase homes through traditional methods, said Brett Peloquin, Habitat Waukesha director of development and marketing.   Until now, however, these homes have been built between individual homes in existing subdivisions, with just one or two new ones added per year. This new development, which is coming to fruition thanks to support from Tarantino & Company, will expand that capacity.

Starting in fall, 28 students enrolled in WCTC’s Building Trades-Carpentry Technical Diploma program will begin work to construct the new Habitat Waukesha homes. The development will consist of 16 single-family homes – three-bedroom ranch style or three-/four-bedroom two-story options -- plus two duplex townhouses. Habitat Waukesha hopes to build six homes each year over the course of three years, with WCTC construction students building one house each year for a total of three houses.

 “This is fantastic for the community,” said WCTC President Rich Barnhouse, Ph.D. “We really look forward to working with (Habitat Waukesha) over the long term…not only carpentry but other trades.”

Real-world training, community benefit

 As part of their hands-on carpentry training, WCTC students will work together in groups, under the guidance of their instructors, master carpenters Joe Herriges and Dan Erdman. Depending on weather conditions and schedules, students could devote up to 320 hours building the homes. They will work on all phases of rough construction through finish carpentry, which includes building floor systems and wall systems; installing drywall; hanging doors; adding trim; installing cabinetry and more. Students will interpret blueprints, develop a deeper knowledge of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) aspects of building design, and become proficient with power tools, hand tools and other equipment.

 In addition, Herriges said high school students who are involved in WCTC’s Building Construction Trades Dual Enrollment Academy will also have a chance to observe the construction site, giving them exposure to the trade at an earlier age.

Working on a project of this scale has numerous benefits to students, Herriges said, from the practical training they receive on the work site to the opportunity to give back to the local community.

 “Being able to handle the materials, seeing a real construction site – that is the best way for the students to learn carpentry. It’s all about that experience,” he said. “And, we have the entire pride of helping the community.”