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Local trade students to retrofit state house3 min read

Jul 8, 2024 3 min

Local trade students to retrofit state house3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes
The ex state house arriving at One Tree Hill College (photo supplied)

One Tree Hill College has become the first school in New Zealand to purchase and retrofit a former state house, providing its trade students with invaluable hands-on experience.

This pioneering project not only equips students with practical skills, but also aims to deliver a healthy, dry home to a deserving family through an auction.

The 1970s ex-state house, originally from Lavinia Crescent in Māngere East, was acquired as part of Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities’ major redevelopment programme in the area. The One Tree Hill College Trade Academy, in collaboration with Kāinga Ora, has taken on the task of transforming this house, preparing students for future building apprenticeships.

Principal, Nick Coughlan shared his enthusiasm for the project, which has been in development since September last year, and was super excited when the 7mx14m house arrived on the school premises on a massive truck in early June.

Once the three-bedroom, one-bathroom house was set up on site, fencing and scaffolding were installed. The next day, the level two and three trade students began working on the project under the supervision of Paul Williams, a teacher, who is a registered builder. The school’s Trade Academy currently has 50 level 1 students, 40 level 2 students and 25 level 3 BCITO students, all eager to pick up their tools and transform the house.

Established in 2022, the school’s Trade Academy aims to inspire more students to pursue careers in the trades. “We want to give them real scenarios with professional builders and trades people,” says Nick.

The head of the Trade Academy, Charlotte McKeon, highlighted the comprehensive training the students are receiving.

“They are not only learning about the building code, but also practices that exceed it,” she says. “We are committed to teaching them at the highest level, so they are well prepared when they begin their future apprenticeships.”

She says the students will not only learn how to retrofit the house, but also to work as a team, communicate efficiently, and clean up the work areas, promoting health and safety. “This will teach them life skills that they can carry with them into the future too.”

The project involves transforming the rundown state house into a healthy, energy-efficient home with a full ventilation system, and insulation in the roof and under floors.

“Maintaining a stable temperature year-round will minimise running costs, and prevent issues like mould, making utility bills affordable,” says Charlotte.

The old windows will be replaced with large double glazed aluminum windows, which will allow ample sunlight through.

The bathroom and toilet will be in one room, and the bath will be replaced with a shower too.

A standout feature of this project is its aim to achieve HomeStar level 7 accreditation, a first for any 1970s state house in New Zealand.

“This is a big deal because it exceeds the building code, setting a new standard for retrofitted homes.” The students will work on the house throughout the year, and the final renovation will be completed by December. The house will then be auctioned off at an open auction, with proceeds funding the programme’s future projects. “Our goal is to renovate one house per year,” says Charlotte.

The school is grateful for the support of several sponsors: Kāinga Ora, BCITO, Placemakers, Woods Glass, Paslode, Mammoth Insulation, Proconsult, Gracely, and NZGBC.

“They are helping create meaningful opportunities for our students, while also providing a fortunate family with an affordable healthy home,” says Nick.