In November 2009 I formed the nonprofit, “Wawasee Area Housing Initiative.” In short, our purpose was to raise funds to build Habitat for Humanity houses in the greater Syracuse, Indiana area. To be honest, we had a horrendous start to our fundraising, actually losing money during our early efforts. Suddenly things turned around. Folks started making significant donations and, within three years, we had raised enough funds to build three houses.
The first two houses were built by volunteers. You would think that volunteer labor is the best you can do at keeping costs down, but I had an idea that I thought would be a win-win situation: Ask the high school building trades class to build a house. The head of the department agreed to undertake the project, and the rest is history.
Quite some time has passed, but my recollection is that we had the house built for around $20,000 less than the previous two. The students did a great job, and they were provided with an opportunity to learn a trade.
In undertaking the building of a youth center, we recommend using steel construction for the “shell” of the building. It costs significantly less than pole barns and other forms of construction and will last for decades, requiring little maintenance. For the interior of the building, the cost advantages of steel construction are negligible, if not more expensive, so using wood construction methods on the interior of the building is a good choice.
But if you really hope to save money, seek out volunteer labor. And better still, check with your local high school building trades class and ask them to consider the project. If they agree, you will save yourselves literally tens of thousands of dollars. And if your experience is similar to mine, you will save all that money without lowering the quality of construction.
An additional benefit you will discover is community buy-in. Students who participated in the project will be excited to invite their friends to a youth center that they helped build.
Our objective at Rock Solid Teen Center is to help you make your dreams of a youth center become a reality. Implementing ideas on how to cut cost is one more step toward that end.
Wishing you the best,
Board President, Rock Solid Teen Center