Triplett students near completion of massive house project

By Ryan Cornell

MOUNT JACKSON — Students at Triplett Tech have built plenty of houses in the past two decades, but electricity instructor Tim Stephens said their latest project might be the most ambitious one yet.

At 1,800 square feet, it’s the largest house they’ve ever built. It has one half-bathroom more than usual and it’s the first house to be constructed completely out of brick, he said.

Located at 208 Center St. in Mount Jackson, the two-story house contains three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a back patio and a storage room underneath the front steps. Stephens said work is expected to finish by either the spring or fall.

The lot was purchased years ago and will be sold when the house is completed, he said.

Homes in years past have sold for anywhere between $100,000 and $120,000, Stephens said, though there’s a decent chance this one might fetch considerably more.

“Several people want to know what we’re going to do with it,” he said.

He said past house projects have been sold through public auctions, but the school might consider seeking a real estate agent or advertising a listing in the paper.

The money received from the sale will go back to Triplett Tech as seed money to be used to build the next house.

The house was built by students in the masonry, electricity and carpentry classes at Triplett Tech. The three classes comprise about 30 juniors and seniors — the Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t allow anyone younger than 16 to operate power tools.

Students at Triplett Tech traditionally have built modular houses behind the school and sold them to buyers who moved them to different locations. The Center Street house is the fifth permanent offsite location students have built.

Students first broke ground on the lot in the fall of 2011 and masonry students quickly went to work building the foundation.

Masonry instructor Gary Kibler said it might take professional contractors between six and nine months to construct a home, but the students at Triplett Tech are only working for about 2.5 hours a day.

Stephens said the only work done on the house by contractors is HVAC and plumbing.

Other than the construction of the home, students also learned how to secure permits from the town and county.

“You won’t be able to tell it from any other houses,” Stephens said. “It received no special consideration from the building or zoning department and it meets all standards that a general contractor has to meet.”

Andrew Ross, 18, described the project as “the best hands-on education you can get.”

“We’re basically guaranteed a job when we get out because they have like a pact or agreement with other companies,” he said. “They know we’re high-quality students. We have the experience.”

Although it might just be a fantasy at the moment, Stephens said his mind is on an even bigger project: creating an entire subdivision.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or