A group of fourth-year architecture students are refurbishing a former meth house in the Thomas Park-Avondale neighborhood in Muncie as a studio project.

The studio class is working with ecoREHAB, a local nonprofit that provides sustainable rehabilitation of housing and neighborhoods. 

“The whole goal is to revitalize the community more so than to earn money,” said Taylor Sheppard, a senior architecture major.

ecoREHAB Objectives 

1) Rehabilitating existing houses while promoting and following green and sustainable building practices. Completed ecoREHAB projects will be economically competitive with more traditional quality rehabilitation methods.

2) Providing an immersive learning experience for Ball State University students. Engage students with ecoREHAB and the City of Muncie in the planning, budgeting, administration and construction of these projects.

3) Establishing a design assistance center for private home owners and other nonprofit entities to get design and technical assistance in sustainable design, material and system strategies for the rehabilitation of existing houses.

4) Offering training outreach programs to communities, community development corporations and individuals on methods of integrating similar programs and lessons learned by ecoREHAB.

Source: ecorehab.org

The house, located at 1215 W 10th St., will be the fifth house the architecture department has rehabilitated.

Sheppard said when the group first arrived at the house, it had already been gutted because they weren't allowed to go in until the meth residue was taken care of. The meth lab was located in the attic. 

"It basically looked like a scary movie scene where squatters live," Sheppard said. 

The walls were all taken down and the windows were shattered.  

Three months later, the ceilings are raised, drywall is up, and the subflooring is down. Sheppard said it looks like an actual house now. 

 "Walls have been built to show the future rooms of the home, so you can finally now see what will be in the house, where just a few weeks ago it looked like one large empty room," Sheppard said. 

While the designated times for the studio are Monday, Wednesday and Friday 1 to 5 p.m., students put in more hours and sometimes find time to work Tuesdays, Thursdays and even Saturdays.

“The manual labor is a big difference because normally, none of us are actually doing anything and now we have to build stuff and dig stuff, it’s very different,” Sheppard said.

Senior architecture major Jacob Hurt said he has gained a better appreciation for building through the experience.

“It is one thing to put it down on paper, but then to actually have to build it is a completely new concept,” Hurt said.

Sheppard said the studio has a budget of $60,000 they received from the Ball Brothers Foundation and other donors.

One of the priorities of the studio is to create a sustainable house for future homeowners. They have been doing this through insulation and the weatherization of the doors and windows.

 The two-bedroom house is expected to be completed by the end of the summer semester. Hurt said ecoREHAB is searching for an economically viable family to move in. The house is being built with materials and systems to keep monthly bills low.