FGHS program gene shared by fathers and sons, sisters and brothers

by: COURTESY PHOTO - Finishing up the Viking house took a lot of skilled workers.As if a high-quality, energy-efficient house constructed by teenagers in nine months isn’t impressive enough, Forest Grove High School's Viking House now comes equipped with its own family members.

This year's single-level, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home features family ties at every stage of construction, including three father-son pairs, two sets of siblings and a grandfather.

That's partly because early participants in the 38-year-old program are reaching an age when their children are old enough to participate as well, said Chris Higginbotham, who began noticing the family connections about five years ago.

Higginbotham is the advanced-construction instructor who has acted as designer and general contractor for each year’s project since 1998. He also markets the program and rustles up donations to help offset the cost of the program, which is largely financed by the sale of the homes each year.

“We focus on the details and design in an effort to make every home our best work to date," Higginbotham said, "incorporating as many popular features from previous homes as we can, while always looking for new ways to improve.”by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO - Many Forest Grove High School students helped complete the Viking House.

This year's 2,120-square-foot house, which already has a solid purchase offer, was assembled by 16 students and at least 10 volunteers, including several with siblings or parents who were involved in previous Viking Houses.

• Rob Crume framed Viking House walls and windows in 1985, then started his own construction company five years later. In 2008 and 2009, his oldest son, Weston — then a Forest Grove High School student — helped build Viking Houses using skills acquired from his father. Weston now works full-time for Robert Crume Construction.

Crume and Weston both volunteered for the dangerous work of installing roof trusses at this year's Viking House.

• Chad Mueller also volunteered for the roofing effort. Mueller’s father, Duane Mueller, led the Viking House class from 1989 to 1998.

• Birt Hansen founded the Viking House program 38 years ago and now his grandson, Dylan Hansen, is on this year's crew.

• Kevin Guy was a member of Hansen's original Viking House crew in 1975. His son, Parker Guy, worked on the 2006 home.

“Viking House isn’t a class,” Parker said. “It’s an experience.”

Together, as part of Guy and Sons Nursery, the pair donated time and plants to landscape the Viking House front yard this year, leaving the back for students.

Parker called Higginbotham his favorite teacher of all time and a mastermind when it comes to building a house.

He just hopes the program continues. Outdoor jobs are dwindling, Parker said, and he'd like his own children to get the chance to build a house from the ground up.

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Dylan Hansen works on a fence on the north side of the 2013 Viking House.• Stephanie Friend, a current crew member and senior at FGHS, followed her brother, John, into woodworking classes.

“I saw what my brother was learning and doing,” she said. “I made it a goal freshman year to get on a Viking House crew.”

Stephanie said her brother encouraged her to join Woods 1 and told stories about his work on the 2009 and 2010 Viking House projects. The siblings shared their excitement when Stephanie was selected for the 2013 crew. She said her brother hopes to visit from California in time to see the finished house.

• Crew member Max Calderon-Duyck followed his sister, Jessica, into the program — the second sibling connection to this year's house.

Whether they share a last name or not, Viking House students and alumni are a close-knit bunch.

“Every crew is different from the last," Higginbotham said, "each taking on their own personality.”

Higginbotham welcomes a steady stream of visits from former students during the year. He loves hearing about their achievements and adventures.

“They all feel like family,” he said.

Open house

The 2013 Viking House will be open to the public from 12 noon to 5 p.m. Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1.

n It's located at 2645 Windstream St. in Forest Grove.

n For more information go to

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