Practicing on the chaplain’s house

Students from the construction management department hurried around a structure cropping out of University Chaplain Rod Reed’s house on Jan. 31, their third full day of the construction project in the spring semester.

Each Tuesday, students go to get hands-on experience in construction management by building an addition for Rod Reed’s house.

Reed explained that the department made all the arrangements above board, so that nothing appeared to be giving faculty special favors.

Reed said he heard the department was looking for projects and that they had previously taken projects from faculty and staff. Reed is paying the University to do the project.

Jim Caldwell, the construction management department head, said the decision-making process includes the location of the project, the time frame that the project needs to be done in, the size of the project and the capability of the students.

Preparing for the construction of the addition began at the beginning of the school year, said Caldwell. A few seniors planned the blueprints for the addition before construction started in November. Some students worked on the project last semester, but it took off just a few weeks ago when a team came out Jan. 17, to resume building.

Rod Reed’s addition will come in two parts. The first, on the east side of the house, will consist of a master suite. On the west side will be an entryway and an office.

Reed said that right now he and his wife have four kids living at home: two in high school and two in elementary school. The house currently has two bedrooms. “We needed a little more flexibility in types of space,” he said.

The team of about 20 construction management students started the semester building from the slab up. The slabs for both sides of the addition were completed during the fall semester. This semester they are already up to building the rafters on the master suite. Caldwell said they plan to have all the external work on both parts of the addition finished by spring break.

The team works on Tuesdays from 1:15 to 5 p.m. A few seniors also work on Thursday afternoons. Caldwell works with the team, and Reed tries to make it out for a couple of hours on Tuesdays to help with the construction. Even Reed’s kids help a small amount by picking up trash after the team has gone home.

Overall, everyone is more than satisfied with the work the construction management department had done. One freshman construction management major, José Nino, did express concern that the freshmen were not learning much from the seniors, however.

“They’re doing a really good job and we’re going to have a good addition to our house to work with, so I’m really pleased,” Reed said.

Caldwell called this project one of the department’s best in terms of what it can teach the students, especially the seniors who are getting ready to graduate and work on much bigger buildings. “Building a new house, you’re just out there and you just build,” Caldwell explained.

“So to tie onto something else takes way more care.”

They have run into a few problems like accidentally digging up unknown utility lines. Caldwell said the project is helping students better understand client relations, design work, obtaining permits, and dealing with the government on both city and county levels.

Caldwell said the University was in a unique position to do projects like this because of its smaller program with only 55 construction management students total. “It takes a lot of equipment,” he said, “takes a lot of time, there’s risk involved—but you cannot learn it all on a computer. You have to go out and try to do it.”