It is a high school class project that will be part of Delray Beach for a long time to come.
A group of hard-hat wearing students from Atlantic Community High now are touching up a three-bedroom, two-bath home that they took from permits to plaster. It took the 120 kids more than three years to finish the job — but they worked only about two hours every other day on it. Then it was off to math class.
But their legacy is done now — and soon a family that could not have afforded a house like this will be calling it home. The value of the home has not been determined yet. But homes on the block sell for about $161 a square foot making the 1,940 square foot home worth about $312,000, according to real estate website Trulia.com.
"I was just happy to see that I built something that people will live in," said Daniel Norzea, now 21 and a senior at Florida Atlantic University. He was a part of the class that launched "Eagles Nest 2," named after the school's mascot.
"I smiled from ear to ear seeing the completed house," he said.
The keys to the home now belong to the Delray Beach Community Land Trust. Housing manager Rece Edmond said the organization will select the new homeowners to move in within the next few months.
To make this house a reality, the city donated the vacant lot, the Community Redevelopment Agency kicked in a $130,000 loan to cover construction costs, and local contractors offered help and advice along the way.
But it was the students who did the heavy lifting.
"I remember a lot of digging, pulling up weeds," Norzea said.
The construction crew knew what the job would entail when they broke ground in October 2010 on the lot at 282 NW Eighth Ave.
Because the workers were students doesn't mean they were granted any shortcuts. They had to take all their plans to the proper officials for approvals, pull all the permits and do all the building during the two-hour class.
"It could get frustrating because we were only able to work a limited amount of time," construction teacher Tim Sachse said. "We would get rolling and then the bell rings and we have to clean up and go back to school."
An additional challenge on this home was making it "green," designed and constructed with environmentally friendly materials.
But the result was impressive. It has impact windows able to withstand hurricane-strength winds, soft foam insulation that helps cut down electricity costs by keeping the home cool, and a set of energy-efficient appliances.
Even though Norzea didn't finish the project with his own hands, he said it was great to know there were more students eager to complete what he helped start.
Since he lives nearby, he said he drove by from time to time to check on the progress, and he attended the official ribbon-cutting on April 10.
"To see people build upon what we started, I was ecstatic," he said.
The feeling was the same for construction academy alum Shligton Estime, 21, who is heading to the University of Florida to finish a degree in construction management.
He said the project was his first experience with construction. He said it hooked him into pursuing a career in the field.
"I never thought it was possible," he said. "We went out there, and we did it."
The new home is the second built by students from the school. The first team laced up work boots and grabbed toolboxes to start construction on the first Eagle Nest home in 2005 and finished in 2009.
But before production ramps up again for Eagles Nest 3 in the fall, Sachse wants the team to enjoy this project.
"It's been really a cool journey," he said. "I never really thought about what it would be like at the finish line."
For him, the most rewarding part was seeing how the project, difficult though it was, changed his students.
"Watching them grow, seeing them mature," he said. "It's like watching my child graduate."
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