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NLC Carpentry program provides “concrete” training opportunity

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Instructor Gerald Reitsma is joined by Carpentry Foundation students Raz Petrick and Donovan
Haycock at the Pouce Coupe location of the 2014 NLC House.

POUCE COUPE – When it comes to getting “concrete” training as a carpenter, there literally is no better option than the Carpentry Foundation (Enhanced) program at Northern Lights College.

The uniqueness of the training available at NLC was on display on April 23, as students and staff celebrated the completion of the 2014 NLC House, located at 4808-46 Avenue in Pouce Coupe.

For the sixth consecutive year, the students completed a house built with Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF). According to Trades and Apprenticeship chair Mark Heartt, getting experience using ICFs in house construction is a significant advantage for NLC students.

“Because the whole house is concrete, the students get to see a new type of structure. And we are able to make the public aware of what this type of construction looks like. There weren’t a lot of these types of houses being built when we started using ICFs in our house projects,” Heartt said.

In addition to working with ICFs, NLC students also have the advantage of being able to complete Carpentry Level 2 Apprenticeship technical training as part of the Enhanced Foundation program. Carpentry Level 2 has a major focus on working with concrete. Most other Carpentry Foundation programs in B.C. only include Level 1 technical training.

For a new worker who is looking to step onto a building construction job site, the learning curve is very steep. Having Level 2 training from NLC, and the experience with concrete, helps make the adjustment to the worksite that much smoother.

“For our students, having experience working with concrete is important in the industry, and it meets the expectations of potential employers,” Heartt said. “The students pretty much do the full gamut of concrete, commercial and residential, including foundation, floor slabs and pilings.

The 2014 NLC House is 1,450 square feet, with three bedrooms and two baths on the main floor, and an unfinished basement with outside entrance. Work started on September 23, 2013 and was completed on April 22.

The students are involved in every aspect of the construction process, except the plumbing, electrical and drywall. They plan the project, oversee the budget, deal with suppliers, and even clean up the site when the project is done.

“They get the whole scope of building a house from start to finish. There’s a sense of accomplishment and pride, because this is their house,” said instructor Gerald Reitsma.

Reitsma said this year’s project went a little smoother than last year’s house, which was built in Dawson Creek. The weather was more cooperative, and the students were able to pour concrete prior to the snow’s arrival in mid-November.

The house soon will be listed for sale with a local realtor.

The Carpentry Foundation (Enhanced) program starts in September and concludes in April. For more information on the program, check the NLC website at If you are interested in enrolling, contact Admissions Officer Megan Reitsma at 250-782-5251, or