Hamburg Middle School Housing Project Students

Pictured (left to right): Hamburg Middle School students Emma Barrett, Hailee Barrett, Paycee Holmes, and Gabe Richardson -- along with Superintendent Dr. Mike Wells. 

(Hamburg) -- Hamburg school officials and students are hoping to break ground later this week on an ambitious project: a new house.

Plans for a middle school building trades class were discussed at a special Hamburg School Board meeting Tuesday night. Hamburg School Superintendent Dr. Mike Wells says the project involves construction of a house in a donated lot across the street from Marnie Simons Elementary School.

"It'll be a 1,300 square-foot home," said Wells. "Three bedrooms, two baths, and a double car garage. The kids are biting to get going, and we're excited to finally get going. Of course, the weather is questionable, so we'll be out in the cold working this week."

Wells says final plans are expected to be set later this week, as well.

"We had Todd Yost from Nebraska City come over and lay out the house, and where it will be on the lot," he said. "We have a meeting set to pick the person who gets the house. Hopefully, that will be done this Friday, or this week. We also discussed the cost of the house, because that seems to be an issue. The families that are applying for the house aren't able usually to get conventional loans, so they'll pay $60,000 for the home, at zero interest. That money will go into account, and help us with future house projects."

Wells says the project is part of the district's maker space activities on Fridays.

"On Fridays, we'll have maker space," said Wells. "So, we'll have the maker space class each quarter work on it on Fridays. That's limited to 10 students per quarter, so at least 40 students there. When we get ready to frame the house after the basement's poured, we'll be doing a community and student project, where we'll have adults versed in construction come and help us bring the house up. We're actually hoping to frame the house in a weekend or two, and enclose it as fast as we can, because winter's coming."

Plans originally called for the house's completion by Christmas. But, he expects the weather will push that schedule into early next year. Wells says the goal is for students to learn important construction skills.

"The kids have been building goat houses and chicken houses," he said, "so they understand construction on a small scale, and they're excited, too. They're shingling our goat house now, and they're learning how much work it takes to pound nails. This Friday, they'll be using a shingle gun--an air gun--to learn how much difference that would make, because the second house--a goat house--will go very quickly by using the air tools."

In addition to being an important class project, Wells says the structure will also help Hamburg's post-flood housing stock. A similar building trades program is in the planning stages in Essex--where Wells is also superintendent.