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HRA may hire students builders

February 15, 2011
Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Fairmont's Housing and Redevelopment Authority is eyeing lots and exploring options to add to its rental properties.

The HRA in recent years has built three duplexes. This time, it is thinking of something different.

On Monday, the group met with Keith Anderson, who teaches building trades at Fairmont Area High School. Under Anderson's guidance, students in the class work to construct a house, which is then auctioned off.

The HRA is considering essentially hiring the class to build a handicap-accessible one- to two-bedroom home to add to the community's public housing.

"If you need something, we can draw it up too," Anderson said.

The houses students build are the real deal, and they definitely aren't given away. Last year, the house didn't sell during the auction. Habitat for Humanity purchased it later for $36,000.

Other expenses for the HRA, besides the actual purchase of the house, would involve paying someone to prepare a site for the house, which students build on-site at the school. Also, some work on the house would remain to be done, like flooring and much of the plumbing. The buyer also pays to move the building from the school, which can cost upward of $6,000, depending on how many obstructions - like electrical wires - have to be moved.

But by having the students do the work, the HRA could avoid paying prevailing wages for much of the construction cost.

Before proceeding, the HRA will search for a site. The group is compiling a list of potential sites, from bare lots to blighted properties, that could be demolished and replaced with public housing.



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