A few months back I was looking for different ways to sharpen my knowledge of home building and construction skills in order to help to build more attainable housing here in the Denver metro area. One day I was catching with my friend Karen Benner, course instructor at the Colorado Homebuilding Academy, and owner of Clayton Avenue Consulting. Karen has been building homes for many years and has worked with some of the country’s top homebuilders. She had now taken her expertise to help address the huge labor shortage here in Colorado by teaching and designing course curriculums at the Academy and suggested I look into it.
After some quick research and to make sure I could make it to the Construction Bootcamp class, I dove in. Here’s how it went! –
About The Academy
Why It Was Started
The nonprofit was formed through a merger of Buildstrong Education and the Colorado Construction Institute (CCI) to educate and train anyone interested in getting involved in the Colorado homebuilding industry. It spawned out of the massive need for more general labor and skilled workers in the area, because there are simply not enough people to help build all the homes in demand. From the Academy’s website, they state:
“A serious problem facing Colorado’s construction industry is a persistent shortage of skilled labor. At a time of record industry expansion, construction employers struggle to find enough qualified workers to meet market needs. Colorado Homebuilding Academy was founded specifically to address this labor issue.”
Who’s It For?
In short – anyone wanting to get in the industry in Colorado. If you want to become a professional in the home building industry, or simply find a well-paying job for honest hard work, this is for you. Most of the classes are free. I was working alongside high school students, professionals from all fields wanting to change careers, single moms, investors, and more.
They have many different courses to take, including:
- Construction Skills Bootcamp – basics of construction
- Construction Management – hands-on skills and certification to run crews onsite
- Basics in Concrete – learn skills in the most common building material used
- Youth Apprenticeship – provides 250 training hours and 128 on-the-job hours
- Homebuilding Camp – bringing teens to construction sites around Denver
- Additional classes like OSHA safety, construction math, and others
Construction Skills Bootcamp Class
If you’re new to the industry, or just looking to get a really solid foundation for homebuilding skills, this is the class to start with, and it’s also the one I took.
The class runs for a month. It’s four hours per week, for four hours a day at the Academy, which is located at 445 W 53rd Place, Denver CO 80216. The days were Monday-Thursday from 1-4pm when I took in. You’ll have a good mix of classroom time and hands-on time out in the building/construction area.
Course Materials & Equipment
This is where the course was truly awesome. They have a great online system that brings you through the learning materials daily before class. They have presentations, Powerpoints, slideshows, and many illustrations to teach you different skills.
After going through the learning materials, you will submit online quizzes before each class starts and sometimes will also have some quizzes in class to work on either by yourself or sometimes in groups. The entire staff is great, always on top of everything and willing to help you work through any challenges as well.
Free Construction Tools and Safety Gear!
If you finish the course and graduate completely, which means showing up, completing all assignments, and generally being involved in the class, they let you keep your tools! You’ll basically get everything you need to hit the ground running on the construction site. This is hundreds of dollars worth of equipment that they provide for free.
What The Course Teaches
Going through my course materials here and in no particular order, here are some of the things you’ll have an introduction to and learn lots about:
- First aid
- Safety awareness
- Fire safety
- Ladder equipment, skills & safety
- Construction math
- Safe ways to lift and carry
- Measuring – using the tape measure, marking, math and fractions
- Leveling, plumb, and square angles for accurate dimensions
- Common hand tools – hammers, speed squares, chalk lines, and more
- Power tools – drills, circular saws, miter saws, nail guns, and more
- Common buiding materials
- Careers in construction
- Estimating jobs
- Resumes and cover letters, resources for jobs
- Print reading
The list goes on but you get the idea. You learn a ton! It’s a great mix of classroom learning and then for each one you go out in the lab/building area to work on sharpening your skills and learning real-world applications. One day you’re framing a wall and the next you’re building an electrical circuit.
When You Graduate
You get a certificate, all the tools and safety you used throughout the month, and most importantly – you are now armed with skills to get involved in the industry.
Because so many homebuilders and companies are aware of the Academy, you are top of the list now for jobs when they know you’ve put in the time and effort to complete the class.
The Reason to Get Into Construction
From an Economics 101 & supply and demand perspective, it’s important to also just be aware of what’s happening not just throughout Colorado, but also the whole country.
In the 2008 Great Recession, homebuilders essentially got crushed, because the bubble was in homebuilding itself. Many went out of business, and if they didn’t, they scaled way back on building new homes. This brought the number of new homes being built way under the need for long-term housing, which is driven by population growth and other factors. You can check out more of the housing demand news here if you like also.
We are still catching up from years ago, and for many reasons, we are way behind the housing demand, with some estimates showing that to catch up we need two million more homes built, and there aren’t enough people in the industry to help build them.
Here’s are some thoughts on what this means for you and the industry –
- Earn more money – Your wages are higher vs. other jobs because there is much more demand and fewer people.
- Keep rent and home prices down – By not having enough people in the industry, it drives up the cost of home prices and rent on everyone. By building more homes, we keep prices down to live.
- Job stability & Rewarding Career – You’ll have more job stability going forward, even if there’s a recession, because the demand for your skills is so high.
I am in no way affiliated with, nor do I work for the Academy. My honest opinion is that it was awesome. There are so many benefits to just taking the time to do this for yourself.
The job board is absolutely filled with open positions from companies that need skilled construction workers. The jobs I saw were anywhere from general laborers at $14-15/hr up to construction supervisors, which, from the Academy’s own website says can be $70,000+ per year!
It’s really amazing they do all this for free, but it speaks to such a need in the industry for great people to join in meeting the demand for all the homes that need to be built in Colorado.
If you’re able to take the time and are able to get to the classes when they have them but are still debating – just do it. It goes by in no time and the number of skills and credibility you’ll gain when wanting to get into the industry by taking this course is undeniable.