In the afternoon sun, a group of students from Atlantic High School are hard at work, digging deep into the dirt on a small plot of land in Delray Beach. It might not look like much now, but by 2013, it will be a three-bedroom, single-family home.
The students are part of the Eagle Nest construction academy at the school, and this is the second home they are building.
In May 2009, students in the academy completed their first home at 46 N.W. 12th Ave., Delray Beach.
The three-bedroom, two-bath, one-car garage home sold in August 2009 for $162,000, and the academy walked away with a profit of about $38,000, which was invested in the program.
Both plots of land were donated by the city of Delray Beach, and the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency provided zero-interest loans for construction costs. In return, the homes go toward the city's affordable housing program.
The site for the second Eagle Nest house, at 232 N.W. Eighth Ave., is only a half-mile from the first home, just off Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach. Students broke ground on it in late October.
Local contractor Chuck Halberg and and architect and City Commissioner Gary Eliopoulos are donating their time and expertise to the project. Atlantic ICF, a Delray Beach company, is donating the insulated concrete forms for the wall installation. This building technique, which is designed to keep cooling and heating costs down for the homeowner, is just one of the many "green" or environmentally friendly features the home will have. All of the appliances will be energy-efficient.
The construction academy has about 180 students who do everything from the engineering and design of the home to the actual construction work.
Perry Alfred, an 18-year-old senior in the construction academy, said that he enjoys the hands-on aspect of the work.
"It's a great opportunity because I want to be a civil engineer when I'm older," he said.
Tim Sachse, the instructor, who works alongside the students, said that they are learning about much more than just shoveling dirt.
"They're going to learn that they can make a big mountain with a small shovel -- that they can take on any challenge that comes their way," he said.
Daniel Norzea, a 17-year-old senior, said that although it's a bit overwhelming to think about building a house from the ground up, it becomes manageable when it's broken down into daily tasks.
Although he will have graduated by the time the project is complete, he said he can still take pride in his contribution to it.
"We can come back here in 20 years and say, 'We built this,'" he said.