Hawkeye Student Construction Project Draws Praise

posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 in  College News

WATERLOO — City and Hawkeye Community College leaders got a firsthand look Monday at the fruits of a partnership they cultivated one year ago.

Waterloo City Council members joined new Hawkeye President Todd Holcomb to tour a house being built at 219 Newell St. by students in the college’s sustainable construction and design program.

“This is our classroom,” instructor Craig Clark said of the 1,200-square-foot, high-efficiency home with a two-stall detached garage just a block off East Fourth Street.

Council members voted 5-2 last July to donate the lot and approve spending up to $137,500 for materials and the contracted plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems. Hawkeye students are completing all other work, earning degrees and leaving the city with a home to sell.

The partnership was the brainchild of former Councilman Ron Welper, who saw it as a way reduce city maintenance on vacant lots, put new homes on the tax rolls and help fill a shortage of trained construction laborers.

Clark said the students will begin hanging sheet rock when they return in August with an eye to completing the first home by May 2020.

Jacob Boeschen, a second-year student from Dunkerton who worked on the house, joined the tour to talk about what he learned.

“It’s a good program, great instructors,” he said. “We really dive into all areas and aspects of residential construction.”

Instructor Ben Strickert said contractors and suppliers who see the value of the program have been donating labor and materials to the project, which is driving down the cost of the house.

“Everybody’s been super gracious in wanting to see this program really succeed,” Strickert said. “They want to see it continue on.

“If I could have five times the students I’d place every single one of them in the Cedar Valley,” he added. “There’s such a demand right now for skilled construction workers.”

Ophelia Carter, who has lived across the street for 40 years, stopped over to check out the unfinished house herself during the council visit.

“It brings the neighborhood back, builds the neighborhood back up,” Carter said. “I think it’s really awesome that you guys are bringing my block back to life.”

Holcomb, who took over as Hawkeye president this month, also was impressed.

“I think this is a great partnership between the college and the city,” he said. “It’s really exciting to be part of this and to see it taking shape.”

Initial council concerns centered around a belief the home would not sell for the amount the city invested into the program, while the hope was the sale proceeds would help fund a second house slated to be constructed next door.

Clark noted the Hawkeye Foundation has agreed to cover any difference between the cost — now projected at $122,000 thanks to the donations —and the sale price of the house.

By Tim Jamison, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier


  1. Sustainable Construction and Design
  2. Waterloo
  3. Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
Back to top