We reveal the house to the family in less than a week.  I’ve spent about 40 hours at the site over the past 3 days.  It’s amazing how much is getting done.  All of my fellow students are also working extremely hard on this.  I don’t see anyone standing around like they don’t want to be there, everyone is dedicated and wants the project to be a success.  The biggest indicator of success I can see is the pure dedication that everyone has shown to this project.  Yes, we’ve made lots of progress and are meeting our milestones, but the dedication is what makes me confident that we will overcome any obstacle we may face in the next week.

This has been said many times, but I’m overcome by the amount of generosity the community has shown in support of this project.  It’s overwhelming to think about all the people who are contributing to this project, both on the site and off.  All of our donors, the contractors who are donating a large amount of time at their expense, student volunteers who are willing to make the drive and spend long hours on the weekend, and of course my fellow Poly students.  The effort being spent on this project is enormous.

Another successful visit with the Todd family! Based on the information gathered from last weeks meeting, our team had a lot to address.  We met with the family at their hotel on Saturday.  Dr. Papathakis and Kohleen discussed with Caleb’s parents the urgency for a lifestyle and dietary change! Using an Achondroplasia dwarfism growth chart and a 5 pound fat model for visuals, they stressed the severity of Caleb’s current weight status and the implications for his long term health.  Meanwhile Kayla and Courtney casually talked with Caleb and his siblings about the importance of living a healthy life and how good nutrition will benefit them all.  As a team, we demonstrated a one day sample menu for Caleb, along with showing them proper portion control and healthy substitutions for their current diet.  Since the family is in a hotel for many days, we also provided them with a pamphlet of strategies for better food choices when dining out.  But, the most exciting and fulfilling part of our visit was to see Caleb’s face when we told him that he had lost 1.5 lbs!  More to come next week!

Work weekend one: complete. This weekend was Poly House’s first
official work weekend. With the Todd family in mind, the entire class
put in three long days of hard work. The dedication of the class as
well as the volunteers makes Poly House something I am so proud to be
a part of. We have already accomplished so much and I can’t help but
think about how excited the Todd family is going to be on reveal day.
Although some had doubts about how we would be able to do it all,
there is no doubt in my mind that we are going to exceed even our own
expectations. Everything seems to be on schedule and we have learned
so much.

A Few Lessons Learned:

§ Learn by Doing. Cal Poly’s slogan is written all over the
Poly House project. The contractors donating their time to the
project are incredible. Most of us spent a lot of time with Rick and
Steve, the main contractors, learning to demo counter tops, hang
doors, paint trim, and frame walls. All of our professional volunteers
are amazing teachers and want to assist students in the renovation by
telling them how to do things, not by doing it for them. This weekend,
a large team of us worked on demo. I expected that I would hand tools
to the contractors and clean up the mess, but instead, Rick handed me
a hammer and told me how to take out the tile. Let me just say, I was
SO excited!!!

§ Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Liz, Cassidy, Katie
(one of the contractors), Doug, and I spent last night putting Tyvek
on the exterior of the addition so that the siding could be
installed. We were all laughing hysterically at the finished product,
which looked more like the wrapping of a Christmas present than a
house. As Steve Chevet put it, “it might not be pretty, but it gets
the job done”. I was sure proud of our efforts!

§ Don’t take things too seriously. Whether we were dancing in
the sandbox to compact the dirt or making wheelbarrow obstacle
courses, the students of Poly House make working fun. Everyone was
excited to be out on the site and I have been so impressed by the
positive attitudes of everyone.

§ Always reach outside your comfort zone (except if you’re on
a ladder)
. I have noticed that each student is constantly being pushed
to do something new, something unfamiliar, and oftentimes something
uncomfortable. Students who previously hated bugs are now working in
the garden, those who never used a hammer are now framing the house,
and those who thought we couldn’t now know we can.

During this week, we will continue working on the site and passing
inspections. Friday we will begin our final work weekend and prepare
for the reveal on Sunday. I can’t wait to get back on the site and
experience the Poly House magic!



We are only a bit behind, but it is on critical path tasks. Some students will be on site today trying to get ready for inspection later this morning. I don’t want to write so much about the quality of the project or the quality of the learning that is going on regarding project management, but the quality of the students in this class. From Kyle who really doesn’t say much, but spent the entire 15 hours yesterday laying pavers, to Cassidy who requires us to do a cheer after lunch, “Polyhouse on Three,” this is a quality group of people. Their heart to bless the family in many little ways is touching. Their desire to work out relationships with each other even if it seems to be wasting time is admirable. Their work ethic is amazing. Each evening when I asked them if they really wanted to be on site at 7am the next morning (I was secretly hoping to catch a couple more minutes of sleep), in unison they said “we will be here at 7!”

It was fun to see ourselves on KSBY last night.

Despite the recent turn of events at some stages of PolyHouse, today was success in the midst of uncertainty!  The second day of PolyHouse saw numerous achievements by all teams.  The framing to the new addition was put up.  The garage had its electrical work put in by contractors and volunteers.  The garden beds were built and installed in each of their respective locations.  The area behind the shed in the backyard was cleared out to make way for tilling and leveling of the soil.  The driveway had its last “key” stone put into place.  All of these achievements make fitting the puzzle that is PolyHouse extremely exciting and nerve-racking at the same time.  And while all of these physical achievements show terrific progress towards completing our end goal, I find this project rewarding in itself because I get to work alongside some of the greatest team members, contractors, and volunteers.  The camaraderie between everyone on this project is phenomenal, and should be cherished well beyond the limits of this quarter-long class.  Just by walking around and looking at all the different projects going on at the house I saw members from the logistics, finance, interior, landscaping, and construction team working alongside one another.  There is not one moment that individuals on the project are not doing anything.  Everyone has taken an oath to see this project through, and because of this we all have developed an emotional attachment to the family’s needs.

I also find that the struggle to overcome certain components and aspects of PolyHouse is overpowered by the perseverance of team members to find those donators, contractors, and volunteers that can help us complete the job.  I like to think that this project, with all its ups and downs, is a life-affirming lesson for each and every one of us.  We take the good with the bad and utilize our limited time to perform our tasks to the best of our abilities.  And while of course time and pressure can create some remarkable results, it is the dedication and effort that will create a truly gratifying conclusion.

Romel Peñaflor Auza

Day 2

Things went very well today. We are only a little bit behind schedule in some areas, and even ahead of schedule in others. We did have some unexpected expenses, like doubling of costs for lumber. But after 13 hours yesterday and 13 hours today, we believe in our ability to complete this project. We had some awesome help from three general contractors who spent the day with us: Steve Chauvet, Rick Brown and Paul DeAlejandro. Thank you!!

A few requests

We are in need of some supplies for HVAC, the company that originally committed, is unable to supply as much as they thought. Also, the contractor that we thought could help with tile is unavailable. Today we are in need of people who know framing. Don’t get me wrong, things are going great!!!! Everyone is welcome to visit the site…except Ruby and Simon 🙂
Call my cell if you want to know the location 805-260-4904

Hi, my name is Tyler Anderson and I am a member of the PolyHouse 2010 team.   Today was the first build day and though it required an early than normal rising, was a great day.  We accomplished many things with the walk way, drive way, building additions and the master suite add on.  My day was spent with the landscaping team and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Working outside has always been therapeutic for me and I did find joy in shoveling and wheel-barrowing. I had to leave early because I have a Thermodynamics class that I need to pass, along with this class and Civil Engineering: Strength of Materials. I have been feeling a bit stressed about balancing these classes with my commitments to PolyHouse; however, working today and seeing the progress caused all those fears to cease.  Today, realizing the potential joy we are bringing to this family caused me to lose all stress and focus on working as hard as I could for this family.  I enjoyed my time on the site today and I can’t wait to be back there tomorrow at seven a.m. Hope everyone who reads this knows what a great thing we are all a part of and that any donation to it is greatly appreciated.


Tyler Anderson

I know that work has been going on for the past week, but I can’t wait to get started on the inside of the house. There’s nothing like a hard days work. I’m really looking forward to getting out there and finishing the project we have been working on all quarter. It will be nice to have actions for all the plans that we have been making the past couple months. We’ve had a few hiccups but I know everything is going to work out great. Finally getting to see the work being done is what this is all for. Everyone is so excited and enthusiastic I just can’t wait. I’m looking forward to two weeks from now for the reveal. That’s what it is all about.


Although when we started this project we only wanted to work for 2 weekends (6 days), as a class we decided in order to accomplish the scope we have laid out we needed to work for two extra days. Our plan was to dig the pad on Saturday, May 7, build the form for the concrete on Sunday, inspection on Monday morning, rough plumbing on Monday afternoon, and pour the concrete on Tuesday. It is Wednesday, and without going into the gory details of why we haven’t accomplish all of this, let’s just say we are a bit behind. The front pad is done; the back pad is partially formed.

All of this to say we are learning much: Time estimates are ALWAYS wrong, precedence in activities are critical, conflict surfaces easily when we are tired and discouraged, contractors are the ONLY reason this project is moving ahead, and perseverance and hope go a long way to keep us motivated.

We can’t say enough thank you’s to our supporters. Look for their ads in the New Times, Ag Circle magazine, on this website, and on our banner at the job site.