East Liverpool home becomes class project

EAST LIVERPOOL – After several years of renovation, a foreclosed house on Orchard Street is ready to become a home for the right family.

An open house was hosted recently at 1733 Orchard St. by the East Liverpool High School Construction Career Tech Program which has spent the last five years renovating the two-story house.

The renovation was accomplished in conjunction with the Columbiana-Metropolitan Housing Authority, which purchased the house at auction for the sole purpose of giving the career-tech students a project.

At that time, the career-tech building at the high school was under its own renovation through the district’s Ohio School Facilities Commission program, “So we didn’t have a home base,” instructor Ed Adamson said, adding, “We appreciate Tom’s commitment to education,” referring to CMHA Director Tom Snow, a former school board member.

Work began in April 2008, with students averaging 90 minutes per day on the job site. Over the 4 1/2 years it took to complete, 51 students worked on the house.

Adamson said students didn’t spend 100 percent of their class time on the house because they had other projects, but said, “Every day, they’d come to class, get on the bus and come (to the house) for class time. We’re very fortunate to have a comprehensive high school (combining) career tech with traditional classrooms.”

He said the time frame focus was on students learning the construction trades, and with the amount of work needed on the house, they had plenty opportunity to learn.

“The house needed all types of renovation. When a house is purchased through auction, there is no chance for pre-inspection. There was someone living there until the last minute,” Snow said.

The CMHA furnished all materials for the renovation, with the students providing the labor.

Students’ first focus had to be the basement, which Adamson said “wasn’t very appealing when we first saw it.”

The main support beam had to be replaced before other work could begin on the remainder of the house.

After that, the interior was gutted and reconfigured, with a bathroom now where the kitchen once was and a laundry room taking over the former bathroom’s spot.

The new kitchen sports oak cabinets and hardwood floors with counter tops actually made by the students out of tile, not just dropped into place.

“We could very well have bought a countertop, but we had the kids make it,” Adamson pointed out.

The living room is open to the kitchen and also has hardwood floors, while a downstairs bedroom is carpeted. A winding staircase hails back to the home’s 1950s beginnings, leading to two upstairs bedrooms and original wooden floors that students painted in a complimentary hue.

A large deck was built overlooking a wooded area, and a concrete sidewalk leads from the back porch to the yard.

But there was also a considerable amount of work done that is not necessarily visible to the naked eye, including reframed rafters, new roof deck and attic insulation, new shingles, gutters and downspouts, all new windows, including glass block in the basement, new vinyl siding, extensive interior wiring replacements, new plumbing and much more.

“Everything is new except the furnace,” Adamson pointed out.

This is the first time for such a project, and Adamson said, “It has worked out well. We had outstanding cooperation from the school district, school board and transportation director.”

Adamson said students learned invaluable lessons during the project, but one of the main ones was the art of patience as they experienced the trials, tribulations and setbacks of such an extensive renovation.

Now that the home is completed, it will be placed on the market, and Snow said it is hoped another home can be purchased for a second renovation project.