SPRINGFIELD, VA — The property at 7425 Foundation Way in Springfield looks like a standard new construction luxury home. It checks all the boxes with quartz countertops, designer bathrooms, spacious recreation room and more. But it also served as a classroom of sorts for Fairfax County Public Schools Career and Technical Education students.
The home was built over the past year by FCPS students, according to a blog feature from the school district. It is the 10th home in the Spring Village Estates that FCPS students contributed to as part of a partnership between the school district and Foundation for Applied Technical Education.
Each home build draws 15 to 20 students who are over the age of 16. Students work alongside subcontractors on different areas of home building. For the house at 7425 Foundation Way, work included framing, tile, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and more.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges, since students can best learn construction by experiencing it in person. Career and Technical Education classes were one of the student groups first to return in fall 2020, but all in-person classes were again paused after winter break until the spring.
One of the involved students was Shane Bhatti, a 2021 graduate of South County High School who is pursuing a career in carpentry. Bhatti has a mild form of cerebral palsy that affects his hand movements. According to his mother Michelle Munday, he discovered a passion for building homes over the last year with the help of instructor Ron Meinert. Bhatti was involved in installing hardwood floors, hanging drywall, and doing tile work at the home.
“This is something I could actually enjoy,” Bhatti told the FCPS communications team. “Something I’m not forced to learn. But something where I’m here because I actually want to learn this.”
Meinert has taught the students not only construction skills but real-life lessons as well.
“I take students and I tell them what to do and I walk away,” Meinert told FCPS. “I don’t stand there and tell them ‘no no no.’ I let them do it wrong. I come back and say ‘you didn’t listen.’ And I make them tear it out. And I teach them to be on time. Very important to me. If you’re late, I’m gonna fire you. So that’s the kind of life stuff I teach them.”
The five-bedroom, four-bathroom home at 7425 Foundation Way is now on the market for $1.08 million. The home was made with accessibility in mind, with minimal steps and extra wide door openings.
While this home at Spring Village Estates is ready for the real estate market, the work isn’t done. Another home is under construction next door.
Greg Stiger of Integrity Real Estate Group noted that nine student-built homes have been sold in Spring Village Estates. His company provides $5,000 in scholarships to construction students each year.
“One of the things that’s so rewarding about the program is seeing those parents, many who are not from means, come to the house, and see that their child helped create that beautiful home,” Stiger told FCPS. “That makes it all worthwhile.”