Editor note: Romel is a Resident Advisor (RA) in the dorms and recruited more than 50 volunteers to help us. We probably could not have finished without their strength and willingness.

From Romel:

PolyHouse was a refreshing experience for me.  Never before have I had such a hands on experience that gave me instant gratification.  This project allowed me to test my limits at balancing this project as well as my other classes with actual physical work.  It was one thing to plan and design on paper or computer; however, it was a whole other experience to actually make those plans and designs work out in real time.  A huge thanks goes out to Landscape team for helping me enjoy my experiences on this project.  We were all so determined to get the work done that we often forgot our own problems and issues aside from this class.  We all worked so hard to the point of getting sick or not sleeping.  Our team’s dedication to our work helped my residents from my dormitory see what a truly dedicated and diligent Cal Poly student looked like and acted like.  A lot of my residents liked working with my landscape team members just for its relaxed atmosphere and never ending list of tasks to do.  They always received adequate instructions to perform the tasks to the best of their abilities.  The end result to all our hard work is a happy family living in a home that was built with tender loving care.  It can’t be any better than that.

We will be publishing more reflections from students in a few days, but in the mean time, to all those who have been following us, we would love to know what you have thought about the project or the blog. Please enter a comment or two below.

What is success?

When we set out to do this project we defined success as 1) a complete home presented to the Todd family on time and 2) all of our relationships intact (students, family, donors, and volunteers). A week ago the scope seems so overwhelming and we were all working so hard, we weren’t sure we could achieve both. Given that we were trying to completely overhaul a property in 10 days and none of us had done it before, we  all agreed it would be a miracle to achieve success. At one point last week we reevaluated and decided that the relationships were more important than the home being completed on time, if we had to give up something it would be the completed home. I believe we chose the right thing and we were gifted with the Miracle we all desired. The home is near completion and we all enjoy each others company. We love the Todd family, they are so gracious and embracing of us. We appreciate the donors and are trying our best to express that appreciation. We all care deeply for each other and will never forget the 10 days we spent at Polyhouse. We appreciate the volunteers and couldn’t have accomplished it without their selflessly giving of their time. Thank you to all those who who helped us achieve this Miracle!

As Poly House slowly winds to a close I have had the opportunity to reflect on everything that we have achieved.  Through hundreds of hours of blood, sweat, and tears (literally) we have achieved something amazing.  I had the distinct honor of walking the family though on the first ever tour of their new home.  Our project might be called Poly House, but I think it would more appropriately be called Poly Home.


–          the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.

–          any place of residence or refuge

To me, a home is so much more than a house, and I think what we have built for the Todd family, is a place which will quickly be embraced as not just their new house, but a home.  From the scripture verses that got written on the concrete under the carpet, to the decorative tiles, or the beautifully inlaid stones on the front entryway (all of which contain the children’s handprints), this year’s Poly Home is something that I will never forget, and I expect the Todd’s will never forget the impact that a group of 28 students, and a community were able to make on the family in a scant 19 days.

Many people have mentioned the scope of the project on the blog up until this point, and I think it is safe to say that this is the biggest, and one of the most successful Poly House projects ever undertaken.  I remember those initial meetings when the students were brainstorming ideas for this project, and to see those ideas standing proudly on that property is mind boggling.  From the graciously donated garage from PWS, to the great master addition, to the driveway, the garden and the patio, this is not the same house.  This is indeed my proudest accomplishment in academia to this point.  As the project manager of such a big undertaking, I learned so much along the way.  There were many things I was proud of, and many things I would do differently, but as I stood with the other students, lining the driveway, emblazoned in our brand new t-shirts, waiting (yes waiting!) for the family to arrive, I couldn’t help but think about the efforts of so many people: all of my team project managers, all of their team members, all of the donors, all of the volunteers and all of the people who fed us.  We were ready to reveal our work to a grateful family, with time to spare.  That was when I felt the success of all of our achievements, and I am so very proud of all of my fellow students.  We pulled together like a group that had been working together for years.  Where one person left off, another was one foot behind them ready to keep pushing forward.  As those of us in California know, all of the road construction signs read, “Progress as Promised.”  That’s how I feel about Poly House, it just got done, because it had to, because we wanted it to, because it needed to, and because no one would accept failure.

Thank you to everyone for the chance of a lifetime.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

– Galatians 6:9

Michael Minasian

Project Manager

A Success!!!

We gave the Polyhouse back to the Todd’s today. We completed the job, except for a few things that we can solve easily. We are all tired, but please check back soon for reflective posts and more pictures.

It has only been about two months since we began this project called Poly House.  Looking back on my experience thus far, I am amazed what we as a class have accomplished.  I’ll admit that two months ago, I would’ve thought that our plan for this project was impossible to accomplish.  However I am glad to be proven wrong and to actually see a concept literally go from a drawing to reality in that short time.  I’ll attribute our success to the dedication and commitment that my peers have demonstrated throughout the quarter.

This year I held the position as Finance/Fundraising Project Manager for Poly House 2010.  The group working with me consisted of five individuals, each with their own distinct backgrounds and fields of study: Cassidy – Ag Science, Mike – Industrial Technical Management, Tracy – Accounting, Tyler – Engineering and myself – Engineering Management.  Looking back at the group over these past weeks, we have had our successes and our problems.  However in a project like this, you learn to put your differences aside, admit your mistakes and move on to complete the common goal.  I enjoyed working with these individuals as they all contributed qualities that would help make this year’s project a reality: Cassidy was the class morale officer and was essential in motivating the class for fundraising events, special announcements and the project itself; Mike was cool under pressure and would always offer constructive contributions during group meetings; Tracy was on top of her event planning and would usually have the answers to my questions before I even asked; Tyler was my go-to “sales man” for the project and really excelled at reaching out to donors and really selling the purpose of this year’s Poly House project.  The project is almost concluded and the team that was Finance/Fundraising will each go on their own separate paths in life, however, we each will carry a mutual bond that is Poly House 2010.  I wish them the best of luck in the future.

As far as my personal experience from this project, I really enjoyed the experience of working in a really close knit group and working towards a common goal.  I think this project has as much to do with relationship management as it does with project management.  Communication is key!  I was also really impressed with how much the human spirit can motivate people to do good things.  Many of our donors contributed to this year’s project simply because it would truly make a difference in the lives of the Todd Family.  It leaves a good feeling knowing that there are people out there willing to show this kindness and generosity to complete strangers.

Before I end my entry, I would like to say a special thanks to the following people:
*Mrs. Marilyn Britton and Mr. Gary Fowler (Yes i know that Gary would suffice) for coming out to the work site and providing us with food and company.  Your contributions have definitely made our long days much more pleasant and is something we all are truly grateful for these past two weekends.
*Mrs. Stephanie Allen for helping me submit all my financial forms and transactions with the school.
*Ms. Jessica Paz for answering all of my Poly House Fundraising inquiries and for advice on any finance related issues I have.
*Professor Liz Schlemer for letting me be in charge of handling all of the project financing; I hope I don’t let you down.

~Christopher Fung

This project has completely opened up my eyes to the vast support of our community.  I never would have thought that we would have so many donors and contractors who would be willing to help us pro bono.  Over the last week the construction team has had to play catch-up since we were a tad behind schedule at the end of the first build weekend.  If it wasn’t for companies that did turn-key work I don’t know if we would have had the ability to get done what we did.  I have to personally give out a special thanks to Jack’s All American Plumbing, Wicks Roofing, Drywall Dynamics, and San Luis Mechanical.  These guys all did an excellent job providing turn-key services for the addition!

From the Planning and Building department perspective no Poly House project has been as big as this year’s nor has it ever gone as smoothly during inspections.  As normally planned, a Poly house project typically takes place over two weekends for a total of six days.  This year we started a week early to get the foundations for both the new addition and garage done, and we haven’t stopped since.  During that first week the construction team easily put in 10+ hour days while managing to fit our other classes somewhere into our schedules. Easily this project has been a full time job that has been full steam ahead for the past six weeks.

Now that the construction team’s responsibilities are winding down, the interior’s team finally has a home to work in.  We’ve got a long way to go and these next couple days are going to keep everyone busy putting on the final touches!

-Shane Schimke

Construction Project Manager

So far for me, this class has been a wonderful experience. It’s extremely stressful when it comes down to the work weekends to make sure that everything is lined up and if anything goes wrong, it’s scramble time to fix it. But that is a good thing as it’s an amazing hands-on learning experience. Even if something goes horribly wrong, there’s always a way to fix it and any setbacks may seem huge to completing the project on time, but everyone has managed anything thrown upon us and we’re still on track. We’re coming up on the second work weekend and there are still some large projects to complete before the reveal. This weekend will have a lot of interior and finish work. I’ve been amazed at the dedication of all the students as well as volunteers and donors. There’s no way this project would have been possible without all the generous donations from everyone. It’s been a really crazy few weeks working, but it’s all slowly coming together. It’s hard to imagine that it will all be completed on such a short time frame. Most of the contractors and industry workers that help with the house even mention how amazing it is to complete this project in such a short time. The question of “when will it be completed?” always comes up in the conversations and is generally followed by a “what?!” But even after being told by just about every contractor that there is no way this will happen in the time frame and the project is just too ambitious, it’s happening! I am really looking forward to the release date to show everyone what we have all been working on for the last few weeks. I’d love to say very specifically what we’ve been working on, but it will have to wait until Sunday for everyone to see the fruits of our labor. 🙂

Drywall Dynamics donated all the drywall supplies and installation. When they came to measure, there was no roof on and it was raining. I have a feeling they thought we were crazy, but they came and helped anyway. The roof got on just in time to drywall. Thank goodness.

San Luis Mechanical came to our rescue when the original HVAC company wasn’t able to help. When I told Tom Murphy, the owner, that we not only needed the supplies including a new heater at cost or below, but we needed it that same day, he looked at me like I was out of my mind. But, one day later we have all the HVAC we need.

Marilyn and Glenn Britton have been our guardian angels. They have brought us food every day we have been on site. They helped with financial donations. They found us a cabinet installer, and a BBQ to rent. Jamie, one of the sutdents calls Marilyn our “saint”.

Jack’s All American Plumbing did all the plumbing in the addition. He was there both Saturday and Sunday helping us fly through inspections.

The County of SLO has been so great. They made it clear from the start that they were not giving us any favors in the way of passing sub-standard work, but they have helped with advice and advanced inspections that allowed us to pass easily.

I will highlight some more of our donors in another blog. Please know we appreciate all donations big and small.

Reveal BBQ

We are planning to present our work to the Todd family at 4PM on Sunday. Shepherd’s Table will be providing a BBQ for all the donars, volunteers and supporters. No RSVP is necessary. Hope to see you all there.