Do I Have To Build A House? Geometry in Construction’s Most Asked Question

The short answer is NO. Building of a house was a vision we set for our program but it does not define Geometry in Construction.


Outdoor Kitchen

The requirements of an effective capstone project are:

  1. The project must be of interest to students. As most CTE teachers can tell you, choosing the right project creates student pride in their product. If leveraged constructively, this is the element that keeps traditionally underachieving students engaged in the math through interest and the “penalty box”.
  2. Sustainability is equally important. In our minds, sustainability is broken into 2 parts.
  • Financial: What can your district afford? For us, we must be self-supporting. Marketability is a key element in choosing a capstone project. Our CTE/Perkins funding is very limited. Anything we build must be sold to cover cost. Student fees do not exist in our district. The top question we must ask ourselves is “What can be sold to cover our cost?”
  • Teacher Friendly: Teachers must be comfortable with the project and have the energy level to continue the project. Being comfortable with the project does not mean the teachers know how to do all aspects of the project. However, they need to be willing to learn and/or willing to go to the community for help. An example from our experience is initially we did not have the skill set to do the electrical or plumbing work on our first cabin.   We were smart enough to know that was our limitation. To overcome this, we sought out professionals in our community. They responded and taught our students (and us).

Likewise, the instructors must realize there is a limit to their time involvement/energy level. Carefully assess what you are willing and able to do to make the capstone a success for both you and the students.

Ideas for your capstone:


9′ x 18′ Tiny Home Plan included in curriculum

Below is a listing of projects that have been accomplished with Geometry in Construction. As you think about your own situation, selecting an appropriately sized capstone project is of the utmost importance regardless of what you select to build. The following criteria is a good gauge based on approximate square footage and total student enrollment:

Class size = 30-40 students…………..…………150-200 square foot structure

Class size = 40-80 students…………..…………200-700 square foot structure

Class size = 80-120 students…………..………..700-1100 square foot structure

Class size = 120 + students…………………..…..1100 + square foot structure

  • Playhouses: Used in daycare centers and some sold to district employees.
  • Outdoor kitchens
  • Homeless shelter: A school in Portland OR built a 10’ x 12’ shelter for a homeless woman that was placed on the city’s homeless shelter lot.
  • Sheds: One school gets their materials free from the local lumber yard, builds the shed(s), and returns the shed(s) to the lumber yard so that they can be sold. Some can be custom built with shelving, windows, and solar.
  • Hunting/camping cabins: A very popular option for areas that have a market. Some are complete and some are sold with only the exterior finished. The 9’ x 18’ tiny house plan we have is often the basis for the cabin. Also, this idea has been used to build shelters for women in crisis.
  • Agricultural structures: Chicken coops, green houses, dog kennels, and small horse/cattle sheds. Chicken coops are the fastest growing urban agricultural growth market.
  • Park structures: Gazebos, picnic table shelters, and port-a-potty enclosures
  • School structures: Baseball press box, security guard structure, or a concession stand
  • If you want to pursue full houses, here are some creative ideas employed by school districts to reduce cost and work loads.
  1.  Partial finish: Some schools have agreements with non-profits such as Habitat for Humanity to “complete the house construction as far as possible” and then the non-profit will finish it. For us, we now contract out the drywall portion of our house to lessen the time stress and to meet the needs of our Habitat for Humanity.
  2. Share a house: Two high schools in Vancouver WA shared the house by splitting the modular home down the middle. Each high school built half the house.
  3. Panelized: One school built the walls of the house, loaded them on a truck, and were assembled on site.  One school even built a log bunkhouse cabin, then dismantled it, and shipped it out of state to a kids camp.

Obviously you will have other considerations in selecting the capstone. Building space, tools, community involvement, and student needs can all factor in to making a good decision for your situation. Hope this helps with setting of the vision for your students, your school, and your skill set.