Tiny houses to train construction-trades students | nnbw.com

Tiny houses to train construction-trades students

Rob Sabo
Students at ACE High School get a pad ready to pour concrete.
Courtesy Academy for Career Education |

Building trades students at Academy for Career Education are thinking small.

ACE High School, a charter high school on Vassar Lane that provides education in construction, engineering, architecture, computer-aided design and diesel equipment technology, has been awarded a grant of $43,000 from the Nevada State Contractors Board’s Commission on Construction Education. ACE will use the funds to construct tiny houses of 130 square feet that it hopes to sell for about $54,000 each.

ACE students have turned out several site-built homes since school was founded in 2002, but last year development stalled due to lack of available land, says Director Leigh Berdow. Searching for an alternative plan that allowed students to construct a building from start to finish, ACE settled upon the House to Go from the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company of Sonoma, Calif. Each home will be built on a flatbed trailer at the ACE yard and shipped to its final destination. The homes can stay on the trailer or homeowners can build a concrete foundation.

“It’s a smaller footprint and they can be self-contained,” Berdow says. “They can be on or off the grid. This is a new venture for us.”

The funds cover about 50 percent of the cost to build the three homes, she adds. ACE executives say the homes could prove popular to landowners with remote parcels or as in-law quarters.

“We have already generated some interest,” Berdow says.

Students will work on all three homes consecutively to learn each stage of homebuilding. ACE plans on keeping one of the mini homes to demonstrate the end result of the school’s construction program.

Interest in the building trades program at ACE High School has spiked in 2013 after dropping off during the construction downturn of 2008 through 2012. Currently, the program has 45 students and has availability for 60 students.

“The building trades program did take a hit,” Berdow says. “We had kids that were interested, but parents were saying, ‘There is no future there.’ That’s what they were hearing. But it is coming back.”

Demand for construction workers also has increased throughout the Truckee Meadows as residential homebuilding found its legs in 2013. ACE seeks to turn out ready workers who can step into building trades jobs and learn from seasoned journeymen — many of which are nearing retirement.

“We want to be that feeder,” Principal Bob DeRuse says. “Professionals are getting older. They are in their 40s and 50s and we need to do our responsibility as a school to educate kids who can go out there and become those future plumbers, electricians and foremen.”


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