Vantage carpentry students have been busy building a new home on the corner of Keplar and Market Streets in Van Wert. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Vantage carpentry students have been busy building a new home on the corner of Keplar and Market Streets in Van Wert. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – In October, students at Vantage Career Center began building a home on a lot owned by the Land Bank on the corner of Keplar Street and Market Street. The partnership between the Land Bank and Vantage aims to allow students to receive first-hand experience while building a new home in Van Wert.

"The Land Bank transferred the property to Vantage," said Van Wert Area Economic Director Stacy Adam. "The Land Bank agreed to pay for half of the material cost for the construction, and through the TILL, Vantage put in half of the expense of the materials [as well]."

When the house is finished, the intent is that the house will be auctioned off. From there, another Land Bank property will be selected to transfer to Vantage where another home will be built next year. The money from the auctioned off home will be used to help buy materials for the next project.

Junior and senior carpentry program students, led by instructor Jerry Robinson, have been actively working on building the home.

“So far, we’ve done everything from floors and foundation to framing walls, sheeting walls, and setting trusses,” said senior Bryce Recker of Continental High School.

Each year as part of the carpentry program at Vantage, students build a home. Senior students this year helped to build a home in Grover Hill last year through Habitat For Humanity. By working with the Land Bank, Vantage is able to build homes in Van Wert City, which helps reduce the drive time to other sites and allows for more time to work on the home.

"It's a great partnership and the advantage is that they were going to have to drive, potentially, every day to Payne and back to put a house up," said Adam. "This allows them to spend more time actually learning that craft, and significantly minimizes that drive time. They are able to build a house in their back yard."

“It’s beneficial doing everything hands-on because learning from a book doesn’t really help you when you go out into the workforce,” said senior Courtney Ebbeskotte of St. John's High School. “This gets you prepared for everything you can do.”

Eventually, students from the electricity lab will also work on the home.

While Vantage's carpentry program draws students for various reasons, several students agreed that seeing their work come to life is a worthwhile experience.

“My uncle [was a carpenter] on the side and I’ve helped him build cabinets,” said senior Cody Horstman of Fort Jennings. “Since I was a little kid, I’ve been interested in carpentry.”

“I’ve always been interested in wood-working, and then when I went to Vantage it was either network systems or this,” said Van Wert High School senior Bregan Boaz. “It’s exciting to see the finished product. When we started the project it was just a hole in the ground.”

“It’s cool seeing how it’s built from scratch and how you start from the ground up,” added Horstman

“It will be pretty cool because you can always come back to Van Wert and show your friends and family and say, ‘Hey, I built that house in high school as a 17/18-year-old,’ and they can see the finished product of it all,” said Ebbeskotte.

Because they are learning as they go, Recker, Horstman, Boaz, and Ebbeskotte said that mistakes are definitely made, but that part of the learning process is knowing how to correct those mistakes.

“You have to start over–cut a new piece,” said Horstman. “If you mess up one piece, you start back over.”

Students are working daily to progress the home. Once finished, the 1,452 square foot home will include three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and an attached garage. It will have a front and back porch. The goal is to finish the house by the end of the school year.

“This is a great opportunity for anyone and any of our Vantage labs because you can learn so much and then get a nice job right out of high school,” said Ebbeskotte.