Organizations build, sell houses to fund BYU Athletics scholarships

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From left to right, Casey Cloward of Raykon Construction, Lane Wilkes of PureHaven Homes, Steve Caldwell of the UVHBA, Cosmo the Cougar, Jeff Southard of South Haven Homes and Mike Middleton of the BYU Cougar Club break ground on the 10th Cougar House. (Lisa Flinders)

Utah Valley Home Builders Association and the Cougar Club created a project in 2001 called the Cougar House to help fund an endowed scholarship for BYU Athletics.

The two groups come together, build a house and use profits gained through its sale to add to the continuing athletic scholarship fund. The project has raised over $1.5 million for BYU since it first began in 2001.

Everything involved in the project — materials, labor, property and time — is donated. The home is built and eventually sold to raise scholarship funds for BYU athletes, particularly those in construction management majors.

“Cougar Houses are typically designed and decorated by one of the UVHBA interior designer members if not sold before completion of the home,” said Amber Hutchings, event director at Utah Valley Home Builders Association.

The first Cougar House was built in Springville in 2001, since then, several other Cougar Houses have been built throughout Utah Valley.

“It is no different than building a normal home,” said Public Relations Director Lisa Flinders. “The only difference is we have several members donating their time and labor so more proceeds can be donated to BYU.”

It generally takes between six to nine months to build each Cougar House. Utah Valley Home Builders Association and the Cougar Club are currently building the tenth Cougar House, which broke ground in January.

Some Cougar Houses have been featured in the Utah Valley Parade of Homes in the past.  A committee of Utah Valley Home Builders Association members meets regularly to discuss the progress of the build, donations, construction schedule, cost and more.

“We have a number of trades and specialists involved in the project. Our members range from architects, bankers, interior designer, framers, etc.,” Flinders said. “They all pool their resources together and work side by side to make this happen.”

It is a long process, but the first step is to get the lot or a portion of the lot donated. Utah Valley Home Builders Association then meets as a committee to get the plans drawn and donated.

After the plans are made, the builders receive a permit to start construction on the house. The whole process takes a little over a year.

Current Utah Valley Home Builders Association board member Mitch McCuistion and Cougar Club Director Mike Middleton developed the project. McCuistion currently serves as a mission president in Kansas City.

“I don’t know of another Home Builders Association in the nation that does anything like this,” Caldwell said. “This is a great organization that is involved in the community.”

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