CFCC’s unique collaboration with New Hanover County to result in new home for local resident and expand real-world learning opportunities for students

CFCC student house project
In a unique collaborative effort with New Hanover County, students at Cape Fear Community College are nearing completion of the ultimate home makeover. Over the past year, CFCC students have been working together to design and build a brand new home for a local resident.
Funded through a federal grant program to build homes to replace substandard housing for low income residents, the project began after New Hanover County reached out to the college to ask if students would be interested in participating in a joint project.
In 2010, New Hanover County was awarded a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Scattered Site Housing (SSH) grant from the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Community Assistance, the administrators of the State’s CDBG Program. The purpose of the grant was to address the housing conditions of five low and very low income owner-occupied households that reside in the county.

According to Dennis Bordeaux from the county’s planning and inspections office, his staff was impressed with the quality of construction of the CFCC houses and for several years wanted to develop a working relationship with theCFCC Vocational Department.

“One of our main focuses within the building technology programs has been to promote service learning, identify new opportunities, and to generally enrich the house building projects that have been a part of our college’s tradition for over 25 years.   Based on these efforts and our past success in building houses, New Hanover County officials recognized how capable our students and faculty are and they asked that we partner with them on this project,” said Jon Begue, lead instructor of CFCC’s construction management program.
While both the CFCC’s carpentry and construction management students have been building houses for years as part of their studies, but college officials saw this project as an opportunity to expand the scope to involve many more students from different programs than in the past.
“Construction is a highly collaborative process. We wanted to use this project as a learning tool to expose as many students from different programs as possible to demonstrate how their classroom skills apply to a real world projects,” Begue said.
So far, the project has involved the work of 80 students from nine different technical and vocational programs. Students included architectural technology, interior design, construction management, carpentry, plumbing, electrical systems, HVAC, sustainability technology and landscape gardening.
CFCC President Dr. Ted Spring has been impressed with the scope of the student involvement with the project and the quality of learning students experience.
“In addition to the physical work completed, the soft skills our students developed through cooperation, coordination and teamwork are impressive. This project epitomizes service learning at the highest level,” Dr. Spring said.
“CFCC is one of the few colleges in the state that take on projects of this magnitude and complete them successfully.  It’s inspiring to see our students and faculty setting a new  standard for construction related training,” Spring said.
Some of the specific activities CFCC students have or will have completed at the end of this project include:
  • Architectural Technology students conducted schematic design for the project
  • Interior Design students worked with the owner to help pick all finishes, fixtures, and appliances.
  • Construction Management students took part in construction of the house as well as managed all phases of the project.
  • Carpentry students took the lead role in construction of the house including installation of all framing, doors, windows, siding and trim.
  • Electrical students will have conducted 100% of electrical installation activities.
  • HVAC students will have conducted 100% of mechanical installation activities.
  • Plumbing students will have conducted 100% of plumbing installation activities.
  • Sustainability Technology students performed energy audits on the home to measure energy efficiency.
  • Landscape Gardening students designed a landscaping plan and will install all sod, trees, shrubs, and flower beds.
“It is a challenging real world construction scenario and the students have responded with confidence, determination, and skill,” Begue said.
The house is scheduled to be completed at the end of July.