- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

CONWAY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - It’s billed as one of Livingston County’s most energy-efficient houses, and it will soon be on the market.

It’s also been built, from the ground up, by a group of high school students.

Students in Howell High School’s building trades program completed almost all the work on the house in Conway Township, near the Shiawassee-Livingston county line.

“Except for dry-walling, they did it all,” instructor Mark Leahy told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus ( https://bit.ly/1s76nN2 ).

The public can see the house at an end-of-school open house from 10 a.m. to noon June 7. It will be placed on the market shortly after that.

Though students occasionally worked alongside professional contractors, they erected the house’s framework, attached siding, built a porch and finished the ranch’s central bathroom, among numerous other projects.

“Tiling the bathroom was the biggest challenge - just getting it all right and all even,” Howell High senior Austin Riley said.

Students even completed the roof.

“This year, I had a student lead the team on one side (of the roof) while I led the other,” Leahy said.

Though students have built several houses throughout the years, including a 4,200-square-foot luxury model last year in Marion Township, this year’s project was their most extensive ever.

“We started when we came back to school in September and took it from there,” Leahy said.

The house’s energy efficiency stems from its insulation.

With modern materials and, especially, modern methods, students built a house that is almost self-heating, despite its reliance on increasingly expensive propane.

“It will be about 60 degrees inside even on the coldest days without having to put on the heat,” Leahy said. “When the sun shines, it will be about 70 degrees. With propane, that’s a beautiful thing.”

Though it includes central air conditioning, Leahy said the house should also be largely self-cooling.

“The air conditioning is probably only going to have to run for only a few minutes to get it cool,” he said.

The key is the layer of Styrofoam placed under the house’s siding.

“It’s a newer method, but it’s very energy-efficient,” Leahy said.

At roughly 1,545 square feet and with three bedrooms and two baths, the house is designed for a couple with children.

“We’ve even set it up so that kids can be in one section and their parents in another,” Leahy said.

Work was completed with help from Haslock & Sons excavating in the Howell area. The house is being marketed pro bono by Keller Williams Realty of Brighton.

“They’ve been big supporters of our program,” Leahy said.

The program also receives support from the nonprofit Howell Education Foundation. House sale proceeds traditionally go back to the foundation to finance future projects.

Open to students from throughout Livingston County, the Howell High School program offers real-life experience along with classroom credit.

For the program’s 46 students, the house serves not only as a final exam but as a resume.

“This is definitely something I plan on doing after graduation,” Hunter Parsons said.


Information from: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, https://www.livingstondaily.com

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