Students in construction-related majors can make a difference in peoples’ lives while learning their trades, thanks to the fifth-annual PolyHouse program.
The program allows graduate and undergraduate students majoring in construction management, planning, engineering, industrial technology and other related fields to help local citizens whose homes are in need of improvement.
This year, students chose a disabled Nipomo man who has been confined to a wheelchair for the past several years. Hardly able to move his hands or feet, his wife and their two daughters were living in an unfinished home in need of renovations, generally and in terms of accessibility.
The newly remodeled home was scheduled to be unveiled to the owners last Saturday. It features several improvements, making it more comfortable, safe and accessible for the family.
“We’ve done a lot to this house,” said Dan Hepler, an industrial engineering senior leading the electrical team. “Before we got here, there were no permanent lighting fixtures, flooring, trim or molding. We’re finishing it up for them and adding a lot of things that will improve their quality of life.”
Just some of the home improvements included new kitchen and bathroom surfaces, a larger and more accessible bedroom and bathroom for the disabled man, and general repairs to the previous construction, which students described as “shoddy.”
Other improvements include new tile flooring with a finer grout line, which minimizes vibration and resistance to a wheelchair. Students also installed wider French doors and an automatic front door. These are just a few examples of the long list of improvements made to the home.
“This project has been awesome to be a part of,” said Allison Holmgren, an industrial engineering junior and interior design project manager. “It’s really stressful since there’s a lot of planning and you never know what you’re going to find when you get inside the walls, but we come back every day because it’s worth it.”
Hepler agreed. “Of all the things I’ve done at Poly, this is definitely the most fulfilling and most dedicated project I’ve ever worked on,” he said.
Earlier in the quarter, students chose this residence because of its complex need of renovations and because the family member’s circumstances prevented them from improving the house themselves. Since then, more than $50,000 has been raised in cash, building materials and donated contractor services to renovate the home over the course of only two weekends.
“The enthusiasm the kids have shown has been incredible,” said Mary, the wife and primary caregiver of the disabled man. “To say we’re grateful would be an understatement.”
By participating in the PolyHouse project, students learn construction planning and management skills, and the value of community service.
“These students are learning not only the course material, but life lessons,” said industrial and manufacturing engineering professor Roya Javadpour, who teaches the class that manages the PolyHouse program. “In the end, the satisfaction that comes from knowing they’ve improved the quality of someone’s life is really important.”