The Big Build will kick off construction of a house on March 1 on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, and six weeks from now a family in nearby Pulaski will have a brand new, environmentally friendly home.

The Big Build is a Virginia Tech student service and learning organization whose goals are two-fold: to provide a low-income family with a house that is affordable and LEED-certified (LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system); and to give Big Build students the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills through house design, product specification, volunteer coordination, fundraising, and project marketing and promotion.

The student-designed house will be constructed in the service vehicle parking facility between Litton Reaves Hall and Wallace Hall, across the street from New Hall West and Harper Hall.

The Big Build invites all Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff, and the New River Valley community to participate in the project. Register online.

The project was initiated and is coordinated and advised by Virginia Tech faculty members Kimberly Mitchell, an assistant professor in the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resources Management in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences; and Leon McClinton, director of Residence Life. The university’s VT-ENGAGE office will help coordinate volunteers for the project.

Community Housing Partners, a community development corporation that helps develop housing for low-income families, is a Big Build partner. Major sponsors include The Home Depot, Nationwide Custom Homes, and Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.

“The Big Build at Virginia Tech recognizes the critical issues of housing affordability, green housing, and sustainability,” said Mitchell. “By volunteering to work on this project, all participants -- students, faculty, staff and the local community -- will join together in a common goal of building a house for a Pulaski family. Not only will the family have pride of ownership, a sense of place, and a quality-built home, but the house will also be LEED-certified, which reduces energy costs for the family.”

The student president of the Big Build is Maximus DiSesa, an undergraduate in the Department of Finance in the Pamplin College of Business.

“We have students collaborating with faculty, not only to design and promote the build, but on the actual construction, as well,” DiSesa said. “We hope that in this amazing six-week adventure we can bring the best parts of giving to a family in need, while reminding us of one of the most important values in life – service. It is that principle that the Big Build is predicated on, and we hope it will become an annual tradition at Virginia Tech.”

A dedication ceremony for the completed house is scheduled for April 15, to be followed on April 16 by tours open to the public. The house will then be moved to its final site in Pulaski.

“Building an affordable house for a family in Pulaski is the major goal for this project, but an extremely important secondary goal is to provide experiential leadership and practical opportunities for our students,” McClinton said. “Many students are involved in designing the house, raising funds, and advertising the project. We believe the actions of these students are a reflection of the entire student body.”

For more information about the Big Build, visit the project’s Facebook page and Twitter site.

Share this story