By JAMES BELL
Construction is finished and now NCK Technical College, 2205 Wheatland, is getting ready to sell a custom-built house at public auction at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, for the first time in four years.
The project was overseen by Doug Marrs, NCK instructor of construction and cabinet making, once again this year.
Almost all aspects of the custom-built home — from design to finishing — were completed by NCK Tech students under the watchful eye of Marrs, who served as the general contractor on the project.
“It is a pretty good-sized home,” he said.
With the two cantilevers, the three-bedroom, three-bath house measures 1,960 square feet and was built to specifications of the latest International Resident Code.
“This house could be moved anywhere in Kansas,” Marrs said, adding it likely would be able to be moved to other states by the winning bidders.
The house was built to be extremely energy efficient, with an abundance of insulation and low-wattage lighting.
Insulation installed in the walls and attic goes far beyond minimum requirements.
“So this house is super-insulated, with very little air infiltration,” Marrs said. “Turn on every light in this house on, let it run 24 hours, it might cost you a quarter. Half a breaker is all it takes to run the lights.”
The usage of the urethane foam was one of only two aspects of the build that were not completed by the students, due to the specialized equipment needed and time constraint.
The trusses were brought in from a local company as a way to save time on the project as well as allowing the project to skip the building certification process that would be required in Hays when building trusses.
With the completion of construction last Friday, the house is ready for the move and to be plugged into its new location, with power and water fully functional inside the house and heating and air conditioning duct work in place.
“This house is pressure checked,” Marrs said. “Everything on this level works.”
Completely ready to go, the house utilizes some of the best materials along with side high-tech touches.
“All the cabinetry is done in solid cherry. There are not too many houses that have solid cherry cabinetry,” Marrs said. “There is 1,300 square feet of solid cherry in this house.”
Several pieces of the kitchen cabinets are integrated in a way that could not be purchased and gives the area a unique design.
“It gives it a lot more character and is prettier that way,” Marrs said.
While he approves of the features put into the house, Marrs points out almost all aspects of the build are specified by his students.
“In essence, when it comes down to it, is not my house. It is their house, and they will take possession of it,” he said.
The project started with 14 students coming up with individual plans.
“From there, the students all get together and make a determination as to which plan they like,” Marrs said.
They then take all the elements from the plans they like and combine them into the final plan for the house.
“That is how we end up with a floor plan that is buildable and sellable,” Marrs said.
While the house was built using classic materials, giving it a unique look, the students included some high-tech features.
“We are a tech college, so we try to throw in some of the new and more innovative things that are out there in the industry today,” Marrs said.
Some of the features of the house included a fireplace integrated into the living room with a drop-down television mount above the mantel, another television mount in the ceiling of the master bedroom, Bluetooth connected bathroom lights and a ring doorbell.
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Funds from the sale are used to cover the cost of the materials and taxes, with the intention of the project being, at minimum, revenue neutral.
Any profit from the sale will go back into the college.
“The whole intent is to sell this for what we have got into the materials, so we can go back next year and do the same thing over,” Marrs said.
Monetary concerns aside, the entire project must also fit into the academic school year, giving the students approximately eight months to complete the house.
“We don’t let any grass grow on our feet, because we do not have time,” Marrs said.
While the only reward for the fast and furious work is course credit, he believes it gives the students a leg up in the job market.
“A lot of businesses and business owners know that coming out of this school they have some background, they are not green off the street,” Marrs said.
That experience, he feels, is invaluable for his students as they enter the job market.
“Technical education is on the increase and has been for the last four or five years. It will continue, we are so far short on people,” Marrs said. “This is probably the best learning situation you can have when it comes to house building.”
There are not many schools left in the state that build a full house, he added, with most teaching individual construction elements on a modular basis.
“This is the real deal. You make a mistake, you will have to fix it, you will have to deal with it in the end, just like you would out there in the real world,” he said. “We feel there is nothing that compares to it.”