'Hot' NE Portland home built by Benson High students

Benson High student built home up for sale

PORTLAND, Ore. -- There's a new house on the market for sale in Portland. But it's unlike any other house out there.

That's because it was built entirely by high school students. The thee bedroom, three bath, 2,049-square foot home on Northeast Skidmore near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard went up for sale this week.

Already buyers are clamoring to see it. Realty site Redfin has labeled it a "hot" home, and says it will sell within a week at or over the $650,000 asking price.

But Benson Polytechnic High School students want you to know it was built with love.

"Whoever is going to buy this, I just hope they really appreciate that every piece of trim, every baseboard was put there by a student who was learning how to do this," said student Simon Criswell.

Deep in the back of Benson High School in Northeast Portland is the dust and noise of the wood shop. These construction majors wouldn't have it any other way.

"When I went and talked to all the other high schools, nobody had shop classes," said graduating senior Colleen Anthony.

For three-hour periods a day, the students worked on small projects like Anthony's tortilla press, or Scott Dolphin's end table that doubles as a chess board. But they also headed over to the latest "Benson House" as it's come to be known.

"It's a little bit bigger than most houses we've built, we usually try and get them done in two years, this one took five," Anthony says.

Benson architecture students designed it, and photos through the years show construction students laying the foundation, then framing, installing the roof, windows and finally the finishing touches.

"I've learned so much stick-to-itiveness," said junior construction major Simon Criswell. "With the skills from this program, if I really wanted to and had the time and money and stuff, I could build my own house. And that's just crazy to think about."

Confidence like that is all instructor Luke Hotchkiss needs to hear. "

A lot of them, this is a nicer house than they live in, this is a nicer house than I live in! So it's really cool to get a pile of raw materials and turn it into a beautiful wood frame."

Benson's home building program started in the early 1970s. The land has normally been unneeded school district-owned property, and the sale of each house goes to pay for the next piece of land and materials to build another. The students earn college credits and certificates in construction skills.

"Since I'm doing the math also in here, I'm kind of in between what I want to do," said Scott Dolphin, a junior construction major. "I like working with numbers, but I also like doing this so maybe something in this career."

"I want them to understand the work ethic and all the things that go into building a house," said Hotchkiss. "It's hard but fun and rewarding at same time."

Portland Public Schools is quickly running out of unused property within a 2-3 mile radius of Benson. So Hotchkiss says they're looking for private homeowners who may want an ADU, additional dwelling unit, built on their property, or some kind of remodel that the students could work on for a few years. The homeowner would work out a cost payment with the school for the materials.

Or if a property owner wanted to donate a small piece of land to build on for a tax write-off, Benson students would gladly accept to keep their future career skills honed.

You can keep up to date with Benson Tech Construction by liking their Facebook page

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