On a sunny Tuesday, Franklin High junior Guillermo Leon was on a twin step ladder holding a drill while fellow student Nerely Lopez worked nearby on what will soon be the kitchen of a small house — 160 square feet, to be exact. On the ground, project manager Estrella Romero and teacher Michael King made sure the both 17-year-olds were doing the work correctly and on schedule.
After all, the house will be sold once it’s completed.
The high school’s advanced building and construction students are excited for the difficult yet worthwhile opportunity to build a tiny House. But what truly touches their hearts is the prospect of creating a small home that will be filled up with big memories.
Leon summed up the crew’s overall attitude best: It’s just a great feeling.
“I’m building this with my own hands, and it will be someone’s home,” Leon said.
King, a teacher at Franklin for seven years, came up with the project idea after a suggestion from another educator and following a recent influx of funding from Franklin’s Career Technical Education (CTE) department. He also knew his students could also handle such an intense project and that they wanted to expand their skills.
Principal Anna Lotti also said she was thrilled when she heard the plan for the house, noting Tuesday the impressive display of commitment by King’s students.
Building a house which can fit on a trailer in the area behind the construction shop seemed like the ideal fit to King, who passed a tiny house certification process in Fresno, and his students.
“What happened was a lot of my students were graduating from bird houses to small cabinets to elevated planter boxes and dog houses,” Kings said. “They needed to grow. They are just so excited to do this, and have learned so much. Really, some days it doesn’t really feel like I’m working. I come in and watch them.”
Because of the storms this winter, construction was delayed for a bit and didn’t really begin until late March.
Project manager Romero, also a Franklin High student, knew it would be a significant challenge when she first saw the blue prints.
“I was a little overwhelmed, but we’ve learned and it’s been exciting,” Romero said. “I’m very proud to be the project manager. It takes a lot of organizational skills and other skills in this position.”
Learning construction, which is a primarily male-dominated business, is a source of pride for Romero, who took a class in the Women in Construction program at Franklin. Sh is one of several young women at the school considering careers in construction or building.
“(The program) is to help more women get into construction. There is a big gap in construction between men and women,” Romero said. “And I believe the best way to get women involved is by representation.”
Nathan Haley, director of Franklin’s CTE program, said the project will cost approximately $30,000. King says he’s confident the school could sell the house for around $70,000.
But the biggest payoff for students is creating something that will give someone comfort and security.
“I started on this from the beginning, laying out the framework,” Lopez said as she grabbed a hammer on her way back up a ladder. “We are doing this, and someone will live here. That’s special.”