Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Students build homes from start to finish

From groundbreaking to closing, students in the Daniels College of Business Residential Practicum course experience homebuilding firsthand.

Part of the Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management (RECM) program, the course pairs student teams with home building companies to build a home from start to finish. The teams form a company, choose the site, bid the project, obtain permits, manage construction and sell the property. Students solicit donations for building supplies, labor and cash, and if donations aren’t enough, the home building companies cover the remaining costs.

RECM Professor Stuart Stein launched the program with the help of Oakwood Homes President Pat Hamill in 1994. To date, Daniels students have built more than 15 homes, priced in the $190s to $400s. Proceeds benefit a local charity and the Burns scholarship fund.

The three-course sequence, typically taken in a student’s senior year, is designed to emphasize the practical application of the theories and concepts of residential development. Throughout the experience, students apply their knowledge of business, real estate and construction management, accounting, finance, and marketing.

“This course is the perfect capstone experience for our students,” Stein says. “They see a microcosm of the whole development process, from project inception to completion, in one year.”

Participating home building companies provide lots, drawings, specifications, warranty and insurance. Sponsors act as lenders, facilitating the bidding process and offering guidance and aid. Sponsors also provide guest lecturers during the practicum.

Three student teams completed homes in the Denver area during 2005–06: Paragon Home, Pioneer Partners and Pioneer Homes, collaborated with local builders Engle Homes, Oakwood Homes and Amber Homes.

Paragon Home, LLC worked with Engle Homes to build a three-bedroom, 1,863-square-foot home in the Sorrel Ranch neighborhood. Proceeds of the home’s sale will be donated to the Burns scholarship fund and the Denver Children’s Home, a residential and outpatient treatment center for traumatized, abused and neglected youth ages 6–18.

The Pioneer Partners team worked with Oakwood Homes to build a house in Green Valley Ranch in northeast Denver. Proceeds of the Oakwood home, this year’s only practicum home sold to date, were donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver. 

Pioneer Homes partnered with Amber Homes on a project in the Eagle Creek community in Commerce City and proceeds from its sale will benefit the Home Builders Foundation. 

“This is one of the only classes I have had where I truly learned what it is like to interact in the corporate world,” says Paragon Home team member Ema Rankin, BSBA ’06, noting that the experience wouldn’t have been possible without Engle Home’s dedication to teaching.

“One of the greatest things I learned is the importance of giving back with time, money, effort and knowledge to the community in which you work,” Rankin says.

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