CHARLESTON, W.Va. - South Charleston's Public Works crews can do anything, their director said.
That includes building houses.
With one already constructed and sold, they are working on a second in the Tremont Street area near the Montrose exit of Interstate 64.
The 2,500-square-foot house should be completed within the next several months. Because the city is using its own labor, construction costs can be kept down.
But that doesn't mean the quality of the work suffers, Public Works Director Gerald Burgy said.
"We build everything to above code," he said Friday as he stood next to the foundation of the second home. "We don't skimp on anything."
The center support of the home is a steel beam, and construction crews also poured concrete into the foundation blocks to ensure there will be no cracks from a settling foundation.
The crews include experienced employees who do their best to make sure the job is done right, Burgy said.
Joe Shultz, 62, of South Charleston has been with the Public Works Department for about seven years.
But he has been doing masonry work for about 30. He worked for a company in South Charleston before it went out of business, which forced him to find another job.
He learned masonry on the job and has helped construct homes and strip malls over the years.
"I started out working for my cousin as a laborer," Shultz said. "Then they needed masons so I moved to that."
Shultz helped lay the block for the foundation of the Tremont Street home. On Friday, he was placing brick on the front of the block.
Masonry work is skilled labor, and it is hard to find someone with those skills, Burgy said.
Joey Roush, 28, of South Charleston, has been working for the city since 2003.
Like Shultz, he gained his skills on the job. Roush started by helping family members at the tender age of 13, he said.
"I've been doing this for awhile," he said on Friday with a trowel in hand.
"You can show people how to do things in a book, but you can't learn how to do it until you really start doing it," he said. "Hands-on experience is the best."
Both Roush and Shultz said they enjoyed their work and appreciated their jobs with the city. When working for private construction firms, they were often laid off during the winter.
While private contractors slow down during the colder months, city workers are needed to drive salt trucks and plows.
"Joey (Roush) is one of the best salt truck drivers I have," Burgy said.
Terry Pauley, 38, of St. Albans has been working for the city for about a year this time around. He spent seven years with Public Works before leaving for a four-year stint elsewhere.
Pauley comes from a long line of construction workers.
"This is what my dad did and my grandpa," he said.
Pauley started helping his elders at a young age.
"They always told me not to get into this type of work," he said with a laugh.
Pauley learned a lot from his father and grandfather, including working with blocks and pouring concrete, he said.
David Byrd, 47, of South Charleston, has been with the Public Works Department for 13 years.
He also started working with family members when he was a teenager.
"I started working with my uncle when I was 16," he said. "We were building houses and stuff."
The South Charleston crews have built more than houses. They built the Spring Hill Fire Station in 2009.
The city finished the project for about $500,000, Mayor Frank Mullens said.
"I'd say it would have cost us about $1.2 million if we would have used private crews," he said.