Milton District High School shows big heart by building tiny homes for Habitat for Humanity: HDSB

via HDSB •

Students at Milton District High School are putting their hammers where their hearts are by building two tiny homes for Habitat for Humanity​, an organization dedicated to helping families find affordable housing.

Each home is approximately 280 square feet and they are constructed by students in the Milton school’s Grade 11 Construction program. Tiny homes have grown in popularity over the last few years, spawning many popular television programs. 

These homes will include a kitchen, bathroom, two large decks with sliding glass doors, a loft sleeping area accessible by a ladder, and numerous windows, making the home feel spacious. The homes are built on trailers so they can be easily moved around. The goal is to have these projects completed this year.

MDHS has an ongoing partnership with Habitat for Humanity and has helped build homes including a large-scale project in Burlington last year. The tiny homes serve a multitude of purposes for Habitat including promotion and fundraising efforts as well as emergency housing options. Through this partnership, Habitat provides the building materials while the school provides tools, fasteners and the construction area to complete the homes. 

MDHS teacher Christopher Jones says the tiny homes project has brought students authentic, real-world experience. 

“Students really get the full experience on the ‘build site.’ The skills they learn prepare them in a unique way for a variety of pathways. Students are prepared to walk directly into apprenticeships. For example, two of our students from last year went directly to work being after accepted into the carpenter’s union. It is also a great preparation for college, or even just everyday life. Being able to fix things and know how things are built is a major advantage.”

The Build program at MDHS is a three-credit course. Students pursuing the Construction Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) at the school also take the course.

Gary Wiebe, Director of Construction for Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga, says the partnership with MDHS is very important to the organization.

“It’s important to me to partner initially with a school that we have worked with in the past and have developed a relationship with, especially the instructor. As a new and somewhat exploratory project, I wanted to be sure that the instructor could handle the specific challenges posed by the tiny homes. Teacher Chris Jones is a highly-skilled carpenter so it seemed a good fit.” 

Students enjoy their time building these tiny homes and benefit from the learning taking place.

“I think the build is a great way to learn and get life experience on the job site,” says Grade 11 student Bryanna Marshall. “Throughout the build I learned many useful skills. For example, I learned how to read blueprints and make angles using a speed square. I’ve also learned how to use a circular/track saw and how to lay a subfloor. I think the most important thing I learned is how to problem solve.”

Grade 11 student Steven Foster says working on building tiny homes has given him a different outlook on the construction trade. 

“I think it’s been interesting because it gives you a different type of experience and perspective on the world of the trades and how not every job will be the same.”

Foster says the learning experience has been great. 

“There is a lot of procedures and planning into doing any type of work in the trades. I have learned how to problem solve and how to use different techniques to solve the problems. I also learned that collaborating with people is important. Being on the same page makes the work easier and more efficient.” 

This construction project is tied very closely to the curriculum, Jones says. 

“The actual course code is Construction, Engineering, Science so students learn building theory, forces, loads and more, and then get to put that into practice on a build site. Students are on-site working for around four hours a day.”