Diman students learn valuable lessons as they help build a Fall River home
At the outset of their workday, instructor Jeffrey Cabral outlines the process for installing hardwood flooring at this year's Diman House in Fall River. Listening, from left, are students Joshual DeMelo, Stone Pavao, Daryan Rogers, and William Cardoza [Herald News Photo | Jack Foley]
Students and staff pause for a photo during a visit by Mayor Jasiel Correia to this year's Diman house in Fall River [Herald News Photo | Jack Foley]
Building and property maintenance sophomores, from left, Skylar Monroe, Skyla Machado, and Jacob Desmarais make certain all worklights are operational before starting to paint ceilings at this year's Diman house in Fall River [Herald News Photo | Jack Foley]
Diman Assistant Principal of Technical Affairs, Maria Torres, talks about this year's house-building project in Fall River [Herald News Photo | Jack Foley]
Senior Joshua Demelo, left, and junior Josh Estacio, both of Fall River, organize doors to be installed at this year's Diman house in Fall River [Herald News Photo | Jack Foley]
Junior Tyler Viveiros, of Fall River, gets some praise for his accuracy from Carpentry instructor Cory Luz as they make and mount ballisters on the front porch of this year's house [Herald News Photo | Jack Foley]
By Kevin P. O’Connor
Herald News Staff Reporter
FALL RIVER — There is a soft clatter when the Diman students walk by — hammers swinging in metal loops, screwdrivers clicking against speed squares.
The students reach for the tools without looking. They replace them the same way.
That is one lesson learned already, teacher Jeffrey Cabral said.
Diman Regional Vocational-Technical High School teamed with People Inc. to build a two-bedroom home on Chicago Street.
Students were there for the digging and the pouring of the foundation. They framed the walls and put them up, stapled in the insulation, raised the roof trusses and helped the roofing crew that came in to hammer down shingles.
“They learn every aspect of home building,” said Cabral, a carpentry instructor at Diman. “They learn from the foundation to the roof. Completely.”
People Inc. and Diman have teamed up for the past three years, operating through a People Inc. subsidiary called PICAN — People Improving Communities And Neighborhoods.
The project was financed through a $247,000 grant from the Community Development Agency. The house will be sold to a first-time home buyer who qualifies for assistance through the federal Housing and Urban Development program.
“There will be a lottery in May to determine the buyer,” said Megan Scheffer, president of People Inc.
The sale price is set at $199,900.
For that, the buyers get a brand new, 1,500-square-foot single-level home with two bedrooms, two full baths, a full unfinished basement, hardwood floors and whole-house air conditioning. There is a covered front porch and a deck at the back, facing Maplewood Park.
The students had a hand in all of it.
“When they are done, they will know every aspect of this house,” Cabral said. “A student in carpentry will know about plumbing and electricity and HVAC because they’ve had to work with those trades and learn collaboration.”
Some of the lessons are more subtle, said Michael Berube, an instructor in building and property maintenance. He was supervising the student painting crew. They began painting the bedrooms Tuesday.
“What do you need to start this job?” he asked the students. “Sandpaper and brushes. What else? Hold your hand up. Can you touch the ceiling? OK, you need scaffolding.”
The students began assembling the tools they would need.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to get out on a job site and do production painting,” Berube said. “They learn here what they can’t learn in a shop.
“They learn they have to pack a lunch. They have to get back and forth to work. They have to take care of their tools.”
As Berube prepared the painting crew, students Josh DeMelo and Nathan Goodwin snapped a chalk line along the north wall to start the red oak flooring. The wall had a slight bow, so the students shimmed out the first row to make sure the flooring looked square.
Then, they measured and checked their line again because they knew that any mistake they made would create work for them further down the line.
“There is a lot of responsibility,” DeMelo said. “If you do something wrong, it affects the whole house.”
Another lesson learned, Cabral said.
“We hope to continue building a house every year,” he said. “That is our goal.”
Carpentry instructor Jeffrey Cabral talks about the housebuilding program as this year's project takes shape [Herald News Photo | Jack Foley]
Building and Property Maintenance instructor Michael Berube walks sophomores, on their first day on the site, through the process they'll use to spray paint the ceilings of this year's Diman House [Herald News Photo | Jack Foley]