Sometimes, youth must think “tiny” in order to dream big, which is a metaphorical concept that will come to life for about 100 Career and Technical Education (CTE) students in the next 4 to 5 months. Representing 4 CTE centers from across NH, these students will build 5 “tiny” homes as part of a competition and workforce-development initiative developed by the New Hampshire Home Builders Association (NHHBA) and The New Hampshire Lottery.
According to NHHBA Business Development Director Scott Palmer, the initiative underscores a very real need in the workforce.
“The companies involved in this project all have this problem—there is too much work and not enough workers,” he said. “Having something like this that develops relationships with kids really appeals to everybody.”
The stakes are fairly high for the students, too, as the tiny homes must all be completed by March for the 50th annual New Hampshire State Home Show in Manchester. At the show, judges will declare the winning house, which will be won by the individual who comes in second place in “Tiny House Big Money,” a new scratch ticket game that begins in January. The winner will win $10,000, while the houses that do not win will be auctioned or raffled off with proceeds divided in several ways.
“When the houses sell, some of the funds will go to the schools and some will go to a local NHHBA chapter,” said Palmer. “Money will also go towards our Hammer for Veterans program, which provides professional home construction related services to veterans and their families…We hope we can make enough money to keep this tiny home building initiative going annually.”
As for what the students learn from participating in the program, NHHBA Member Al Lawrence, who owns Artisan Electrical Contractors and will donate his time to check the electrical work of all student teams, the initiative is important.
“It’s a real-life scenario where they can see everything that goes into building a home,” he said. “These homes may be tiny, but they need to be built like any other home…I am all for this project and look forward to doing whatever I can to mentor these students and hopefully help to spark their interest in a career in the trades.”
In directly connecting professionals from industry with the students, Palmer said it is their collective hope that the program can help “bridge a gap.”
“If we can get these kids to understand this is a good industry and that they can make a good living, that would be great,” he said.
Palmer said another outcome from the competition/initiative would be an enhanced understanding regarding the industry itself.
“It’s not just swinging a hammer—this is a very modern industry that is very technology focused,” he added. “It is incredible how homes are built and everything else that goes into it.”
For Lawrence, the project underscores a subtle point.
“We need to get kids excited about the trades,” he said. “It’s rapidly evolving and technology has changed many of the tools we use today. Whatever most people think about the trades, the reality is there is more room for growth than people realize. This tiny home initiative is as exciting for us already in the trades as it is for the kids.”
Participating students are from Alvirne High School in Hudson, the Huot Technical Center in Laconia, Kennett High School in North Conway and the Seacoast School of Technology in Exeter.
To learn more about NHHBA, visit www.nhhba.com.