Student built house to be sold by a bid

Photo by Tucker Henderson
New York Mills School students constructed a new home that will once again be sold to the highest bidder this month. The students built the home as part of Eric’ Niemi’s building trades class.

By Tucker Henderson


Each year high school students at New York Mills School learn everything from preparing a building site to shingling a house as they work to construct a new the house.

Eric Niemi, NY Mills High School Industrial Technology teacher, has taught the building trades class for the past six years. This final semester of the 2023-24 school year, he has three 50-minute class periods and a total of 27 students enrolled in the course.

“It’s a step-by-step process,” said Niemi. “Prior to starting the actual house, we talk about site prep and building foundations, different types of foundations, and then individual structure that consist of the framing and setting up the floor joists. Prior to each individual step, we’ll go through and explain what it is and how to do it, whether it’s a floor, or the walls, or setting rafters, each individual aspect has its own time.”

With many schools pushing for students to make the choice of attending college, rather than more traditional pathways of military service, employment, or vocational training, not every school offers Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses. NY Mills, however, has found a lot of value in their CTE department.

“Your vocational trades are in such demand right now and there’s some really high paying careers right now within the building trades and whether it be in construction management or owning your own business in framing, HVAC, plumbing, or electrical, there’s so much that this building process has to offer,” said Niemi. “It gives kids something real, something hands-on that has to get done correctly. You can’t fail, it has to succeed and it’s a great piece for kids to get their hands on and some real exposure to a trade or something that can provide them a career.”

Learning outcomes may differ for each student, but everyone gets the same basic instruction and is taught new lessons in every step of the way. From an understanding of the building process including framing to setting floor joists, each student will come away from the course with knowledge of the industry and its standards.

“They have an understanding of the framing, the building process, and once they’re introduced to it, you’re looking for independent workmanship and doing stuff to the industry standard,” said Niemi. “The students are the ones doing the work and it has to meet state codes, so that’s what we’re looking for, the knowledge of the structure prior to starting and being able to execute that process to a state standard.”

The 28 foot by 52 foot house was built completely by NY Mills students. The house is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom building, which went up for bid late last month.

Students in the course mentioned that they really enjoyed the team aspect of the build and being able to spend time with their classmates as they worked on a project together.

“Just working on the house and spending time with friends,” said junior Tyler Roush.

“Learning everything and having fun out there with others,” agreed Joshua Anderson, senior.

Students find a lot of satisfaction in working with their hands and seeing the projects develop in front of them.

“Working outside and just working with my hands, getting out of the classroom,” said Kylee Lehmann, junior, of her favorite part of the class. “Working with tools and how to work as a big group with a bunch of people getting things done in a quick amount of time.”

“You get to actually see your work built in front of you,” said Anderson.

“Everything about it,” said senior Ares Angell, “Actually doing something that’s meaningful for people.”

Each student has a different lesson or skill that sticks out in their mind as one of the major learning points in the course.

“A lot of working with drywall and important skills you would need during construction,” said Roush.

“Framing is a big one,” said Anderson, “You have to plan out what you want to build first. Also making sure you’re reading the tape measure right,” he laughed.

All four students were quick to say that they would recommend the building trades course to their underclassmen.

“I would definitely recommend this to underclassmen, it’s a great trade to learn,” said Roush.

“Absolutely,” said Anderson.

“100 percent,” said Angell.

“Yes,” said Lehmann, “It is a very valuable class if you want to do this kind of thing in the future.”