172 Concord Street Rehabilitation Coming Right Along

Just about a year ago, Habitat for Humanity received the contract from the Holliston Housing Trust to turn the abandoned property (left) into affordable housing.  The project is well underway thanks to hundreds of volunteers and several Keefe Tech students.

We recently had a chance to catch up with both the Electrical and Plumbing students from Keefe Tech working at the site.

The electrical students, under the instruction of Ken Webb (above), are nearly finished with the rough wiring.  Rough wiring includes running all the electrical cable from the circuit breaker box throughout the house to switches and outlets.  Their work also includes running cable for TV, data, and phone.  Power will also be supplied to the heating and air circulation systems.  Shortly, the Holliston Building Official will inspect their work before insulation and sheet rock can be installed.

Mr. Webb and his electrical students.

Mr. Eric Gordon and his plumbing students (below) are returning to Holliston after working on the first Habitat build three years ago on Chamberlain Street.  Just like the electrical crew, the plumbers started from scratch following the removal of the outdated plumbing and heating systems.

Mr. Gordon and the plumbing students.

Not only do the students learn the basics of plumbing, they also get to work with the most modern technology.  They too are now completing the rough plumbing for the kitchen, and 1 full and one-half bath and laundry.

Old-school copper tubing has been replaced by plastic PEX tubing.  Of course, new tubing has its ups and downs.  One plus is there is seldom a need for a blow torch reducing fire risk – and those pesky leaks with soldered joints.  The downside is that the fittings and tools are more expensive.  Thanks to a grant from the Perkins foundation, the Keefe Tech plumbers have state-of-the-art tools to learn with.

Jake Comatas uses the battery-powered crimping tool to seal a connection.
Mr. Gordon shows one of the PEX connectors and how it reduces the potential for leaks.
Luis Sanchez is in charge of attaching brackets to the tubing to hold it in place.
Robert Steele cuts threads in a length of iron pipe.

The water piping and drainage are only half of the work for this crew.  They need to run iron pipe to feed natural gas to the boiler / hot water heater.  The energy-efficient boiler is about the size of a medium suitcase and it hangs on the basement wall!  The boiler produces hot water for the baseboard radiators and also produces hot water as needed.

Mr. Gordon shared that this partnership with Habitat for Humanity allows his graduates to have the classroom and practical experience to get them about 20-25% of the way to becoming a Journeyman Plumber.

The man who keeps everything running smoothly is Habitat’s Site Supervisor, Ted Oxholm (below).

Ted has led all three Habitat builds in Holliston.  He is a gentle giant who finds suitable satisfying work for every volunteer no matter their construction skill / experience.  Speaking as a volunteer who helps periodically, I always leave the job site with a sense of great accomplishment – thanks to Ted.

If all goes according to plan, a deserving family will be moving into this completely renovated 19th century home by mid-2020.

Chris Cain

5 Comments

  1. Kay Payne on January 15, 2020 at 9:48 am

    Great article, Chris! Such good publicity for Habitat!

  2. Jake Comatas on January 16, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks for covering our school at the housing project, I’m the one using the crimping tool in the photo. My name is Jake, not Chris. Thanks again,
    -Jake.

    • Chris Cain on January 16, 2020 at 9:04 pm

      Sorry Jake. We have corrected the error.

  3. Sue Lewis on January 17, 2020 at 9:06 am

    It’s so great to see the changes to the house when I come back to Holliston to visit my family, who lives next door.

  4. Kathy Skerry on January 17, 2020 at 10:23 am

    This is such a wonderful story. I cannot wait to see the finished product. Thank you Keefe students and all involved!!!

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