PRESQUE ISLE, Maine - Rowell and Sandy McHatten are excited to show off their new home.
So excited, in fact, that the Mapleton couple will hold an open house today to let the public see the new house before it is even completed.
The McHattens are in line to receive the soon-to-be completed Sinawik No. 31 house.
For more than three decades, Northern Maine Community College and Sinawik, a nonprofit organization founded by the Presque Isle Kiwanis Club, have partnered to build a home each year that is contracted by and sold to an Aroostook County family.
The partnership between NMCC and Kiwanis was formed in 1976 to provide students in several trade programs at what was then Northern Maine Vocational Technical Institute with real-life practical experience. Kiwanis also uses the program to raise scholarship funds to invest in the community.
The McHattens’ open house party and indoor barbecue has a twist, as their 1,248-square-foot modular ranch-style home is not quite ready. It sits in two pieces inside the residential construction laboratory at NMCC, where more than four dozen students and their instructors in five trade and technical occupations programs have spent the past six months building the home.
The public is invited to come see the home and envision what it will look like once completed.
Rowell McHatten’s goal was to construct an energy-efficient home. Among its features are radiant floor heating and window placement designed to take advantage of passive solar heat. The bathroom incorporates a solar light tube as well as an easily accessible shower.
Once the foundation is laid and the structure placed on-site in Castle Hill, Rowell McHatten plans to install a state-of-the-art heating system that will attach to solar panels he will place on the roof to heat the water for his new home.
"This project has been a win-win for both the college and Kiwanis Club," Guy Jackson, NMCC’s residential construction instructor, said in a written statement. "Over the years, hundreds of students have had the opportunity to work directly on the construction of a house that is placed in the local community and becomes a home for an area family. It has been an excellent teaching tool and great source of pride for both our students and for us as faculty."
College officials said that Sinawik No. 31 would be the greenest home completed through the NMCC-Kiwanis partnership.
"We wanted to make sure our home was as energy-efficient as possible, and the NMCC faculty and students that have been working on the home have gone to great lengths to help make this happen," said Rowell McHatten. "I’m very appreciative of the work they have done. It is top quality."
Sandy McHatten was similarly impressed. "I’ve never had a new house," she said. "We’ve always been conservative. We’ve lived in a 100-year-old house, in a home attached to a restaurant, and now live in an old farmhouse that we had considered renovating. This will be my retirement home, my honeymoon home and lifetime expectation."
The construction of the home has been a lengthy process. Preliminary floor plans were developed and approved by the customer early last spring. Last fall, a college work-study student in the computer-aided drafting program developed working drawings for the residential construction students to use.
Framing work on the walls, doors, windows and roof was completed by the first-year students in Jackson’s program. Students in the plumbing and heating program, the electrical construction and maintenance program and the metal fabrication program did what is referred to as the rough-in work.
Once the plumbing and heating conduits were installed, the wiring laid, and the required ductwork installed, the structure was inspected. After the inspection, the senior residential construction students came in and did the finish work, which is now in the finishing stages.
Today’s event includes tours of the new home and an indoor barbecue, as well as presentation of scholarships from Kiwanis to five students enrolled in the NMCC programs that work on the structure.