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Veterans’ facility gets housing plans from high school class

Veterans’ facility gets housing plans from high school class
Veterans’ facility gets housing plans from high school class
<Photo by Stephanie Taylor Ferriell
By Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer, [email protected]

The Southern Indiana Veterans Living and Rehabilitation Facility at Carefree received a helping hand from a high school class whose members presented a plan for building additional housing for veterans.

The civil engineering/architecture class at Springs Valley High School, taught by Buddy Hart, visited the facility last month to present its plan and a scale model to a group of volunteers and board members.

Hart volunteers at the veterans’ facility.

“It’s near and dear to me,” he said.

The SIVLRF board has started housing veterans in a growing tiny homes community located behind the brick home that was originally on the property.

There are issues with this approach, explained Hart. The tiny homes are largely unfinished inside and the group incurs additional expenses to insulate and install electric and plumbing.

“All the things necessary to transform the structures into a true home,” said Hart. “There’s no consistency in the homes size-wise,” he said, noting the structures can be damaged when they’re moved.

Hart challenged his class to develop a feasible, affordable plan for building homes on-site. The students presented what they’d developed, explaining their plans.

The 16- by 24-foot homes would be built in pairs with the “wet” walls facing inside so the sewage pipes would run between them and plumbing would be along one wall. Each home would feature a kitchen, living area, sleeping space and bathroom. They would have a pillar and beam foundation with an 18-inch crawl space beneath.

The homes would be sided in sheet metal with metal roofs and gypsum wallboard inside.

The total cost estimate is $14,000 per home with an additional $350 if a porch is added.

SIVLRF property manager Carl Laswell said that cost estimate is actually lower than what it currently costs to purchase and finish a tiny home. He said most tiny home structures are not actually intended to be finished inside.

“We have volunteers ready to build if we have the materials,” said Laswell.

Having construction plans and building homes would allow the organization to bulk order materials, which could result in tremendous cost saving.

“If you buy by the truckload, it’s way cheaper,” said Laswell. “The key to success is bulk ordering.”

The students’ plans intentionally eliminated waste. For example, plans call for using entire sheets of wallboard so no waste is created by cutting.

Board member Jim Fraze praised the students for their efforts, saying the results are extremely valuable.

“I can see where this will really help us a lot,” he said. “Someone wanted to know how much it would cost to sponsor a home. We couldn’t tell them. Now we know. We very much appreciate your help.”

Currently, the SIVLRF has four tiny homes that have been completed and are occupied. Another is available and one more is nearly complete.

The SIVLRF is open to veterans from throughout the area and concentrates on providing affordable housing, developing skills and helping veterans heal emotionally so that they can thrive and reach their full potential.

For more information, visit the Southern Indiana Veterans Living and Rehabilitation Facility’s Facebook page.

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