Student built house in CB is now ready for occupancy

Town community development director to call it home

By Aimee Eaton

Last Sunday Michael Yerman spent the night in the single-family home built and designed by students from the Crested Butte Community School. Yet despite being the only one home, he didn’t get to try out either of the two bedrooms in the residence.

“I have so much piled on my bed I couldn’t even sleep in it; I slept on the couch,” said Yerman, who is the community development director for the town of Crested Butte and the home’s first occupant. “If I had been moving an hour or two away, I would have boxed everything up, but since it was an in-town-move, I just threw things into my truck. It’s chaos. But it’s very exciting.”

The 1,000-square-foot house located on a micro lot at 906 Butte Ave is owned by the town of Crested Butte, and was a collaborative project between the town, the Crested Butte Community School and several local businesses and individuals. Yerman was part of the design and build process, but the house was not necessarily designed for him.

“I won the lottery!” said Yerman of the situation that landed him in the house.

Yerman is being both literal and figurative.

The house was built to provide affordable housing to town staff with subsidized housing agreements in their employment contracts. From this pool, the resident of the home was decided by a lottery system in which employees who had more years of employment with the town were granted more entries into the lottery.

“There was quite a bit of interest in the place,” said Yerman. “Six employees were in the lottery for the house. We do picks based on how many years you’ve worked in the town. There were a couple guys with just a few years, a couple with three, and one other guy with four. I had nothing to do with the pick.”

The town owns eight employee housing units and prior to moving, Yerman had been living in one of the older, smaller apartments. The house on Butte is a definite step up, he said.

“The kitchen is three times the size of the one in my old place. I’ll have actual room to cook and there is so much cupboard space that I haven’t even put things in some of them yet,” said Yerman.

“The deck has awesome views and the whole place is light and efficient” Yerman continued. “The kids could not have gotten it more perfect. We got the couch up the stairs by an inch, the grill fits on the porch with an inch to spare, the mattresses slid into the bedroom without folding. The whole place is just really well designed and comfortable.”

Yerman said he hopes to live in the house for as long as he’s working for the town.

“This summer I’ll have to do the exterior landscaping and put in the sod,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Crested Butte Community School teacher Todd Wasinger said having Yerman, who was instrumental in the house build project, selected to live in the residence was a rewarding turn of events.

“The whole project was a success,” said Wasinger, who taught the design classes in which the house was conceived and then spent the summer leading the construction phase of the project in tandem with CBCS teacher Adam Ofstedahl. “We had really good people, including Michael, involved at every stage. There was a true first-rate group of professionals who were there from beginning to end, helping us succeed.”

Wasinger said that a primary goal of the project was for students to complete a house that was aesthetically pleasing, well built and energy efficient.

“I didn’t know if we could do it, because we’d never done it, and if you don’t get those three things, then you can end up with a blight on the landscape,” he said. “We had the ‘A’ team behind us and it worked out. Now I’m excited because I know we can do it. We learned that it is possible.”

The house took about 18 months to complete, and now that it’s done, Wasinger, who was the original instigator behind the project, said there will be no rest.

Wasinger and the school district are again working with local professionals and businesses, most notably John Stock of High Mountain Concepts, to get students working on a second residence. This one will be a duplex in Crested Butte South, and while many of the premises of the original project will remain the same—the students will be designing and working on the construction of the residence—some things have changed.

“This is an affordable home that will be for sale when we’re finished,” said Wasinger. “That means there’s more responsibility on the students to determine the design and to  get it done quickly. We’re hoping to have the plans approved in March and to begin construction this coming summer. As we turn this from a project into a program, we’re looking to have these builds function as a revenue stream for the school.”

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