A Utah-based organization broke ground on the first home in the nation to be built by an all-woman skilled labor team in Saratoga Springs on Friday.
The house, known as the House That She Built, will be located in the new Wander Community, an Oakwood Homes development. The Utah Professional Women in Building and Utah’s Home Builders Association also are involved in the project.
During the ceremony, members of the labor team spoke of hope for women and girls who want to enter into the industry, which is dominated particularly by men.
One of their goals is to educate women on the possibilities that lie within the construction industry in the hopes of showing how rewarding construction and home building can be for women.
“My dad has been a builder my entire life, so for me, naturally, I just knew I was going into construction,” said Stephanie Sharp, one of the general contractors. “After getting into construction, I realized there really aren’t that many women, and that’s how this whole thing got started. We have a huge labor shortage in our industry, so the best way we can fill that is by bringing women in, but they don’t know that this is the best place to work or that they can make an excellent living doing it.”
Sharp added in high school she was never presented with the option of entering the construction world, but she was aware of the industry because of her family’s ties.
For Primary General Contractor Kristi Allen, a third-generation Utah home builder, she witnessed just how powerful it can be for young women to see a woman on site in construction or home building.
After starting her own company four years ago, Allen’s daughter was coming with her to the construction site often. One day, when they both pulled up to the site, her daughter asked if she would teach her how to build homes when she is older.
Allen became emotional in that moment, realizing that the home-building industry is an amazing place for women.“I learned from that experience that really being able to see a woman doing that job is what can help you feel more comfortable and realize that would maybe be a place I’d love to be,” Allen said. “She, at such a young age, just saw one person working in that job and said it would be amazing. We want all women to see the opportunity.”
During her speech at the ceremony, Allen vocalized that they are not aiming to be about high heels and pink hammers or show that women are better than men, rather they want others to see that women belong in the industry as a whole.
Sharp added women bring a different piece to construction than men at times, citing their design of the house as a livable and convenient space.
“A little more livability, a little more creative and we have been lucky to have hundreds of women’s input on this project,” Sharp said. “The house is going to be very livable, and it’s also going to be perfect for a family.”
For Sharp, to be a member of the labor team on the project set to break barriers in the industry, she characterized it as incredible.
The house is expected be a 3,200-square foot, two-story home with a finished basement. It will ideally be built for a family with the functionality of the home planned around that lifestyle.
Sixty percent of the proceeds will go to scholarships for young women looking to get involved in the construction and home building industries, 20% will be donated to a local domestic violence shelter, and the remaining 20% will go toward future projects similar to the House That She Built.