Davenport students build four bedroom home from the ground up

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DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Some students in Davenport have spent the school year building a house from the ground up.

On Friday, February 17, 2017, Davenport North senior Cameron Butler installed the baseboards on a set of kitchen cabinets -- happy to be working indoors.

"Siding is my least favorite, because it was cold and, yeah, my hands are freezing," said Butler.

Since August, a group of about seven students have been working every day to build a four bedroom, three bathroom house in northwest Davenport.

And they say instructor Craig Peekenschneider doesn't take it easy on them.

"He lets up sometimes, but most of the time, he's on us and wants us to do it the right way the first time," said Butler.

Peekenschneider says the goal is to prepare students for work after graduation, whether they go into the building trades or not. He teaches lessons like responsibility and punctuality, as well as practical skills like framing, dry wall, and tiling.

Around 80 percent of students in the program, though, do go on to work in one of the trades, and Peekenschneider says those careers are in high demand.

"We've got to get some tradespeople, some young people, interested in it again, because right now, we're hurting," said Peekenschneider. "We've been driving toward college all the time, and now, the tradespeople are saying, 'Hey, look at it this way. You can come out and make a good living doing this and not have a big student loan debt.'"

Davenport West senior Kerry Moeller says that's his plan -- he wants to join a union and land an apprenticeship after graduation.

Moeller says the experience working on this home is invaluable.

"I can't believe that, you know, me and just two or three other people have done this," said Moeller.

Students can earn both high school and college credit for the program.

The house will be put on the market when it's finished in May, and money from the sale will go toward next year's house, as well as scholarships.

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