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The House That SHE Built Emphasizes Empowering Women in Construction

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The House That SHE Built Emphasizes Empowering Women in Construction

This Utah home was built by industry tradeswomen and women-owned companies. Here’s how it breaks the mold of what homebuilding should look like.

Quinn Purcell, Managing Editor
June 20, 2022
The House That SHE Built from PWB in Utah
The House That SHE Built made history as the first (almost) all-women-built home in the nation. Photo courtesy Amanda Peterson Photography

Just over a year ago, dozens of women in construction came together to make history. The House That SHE Built is the first (almost) all-women-built home in the nation, utilizing skilled tradeswomen, building professionals, and women-owned companies throughout the whole project.

The goal of the home was to highlight womens’ work in the industry, showing others that projects like this should be normalized as an everyday event—not just a special one.


In a presentation on The House That SHE Built (THTSB) during EEBA’s 2021 Summit, Jennie Tanner, current president of the Utah Chapter of Professional Women in Building (PWB) and owner of Tanner Glass and Hardware, describes its origin.

The contemporary farmhouse-style home was first created in the minds of the Utah PWB. Kristin Smith, founder of Utah’s PWB, made the decision with a handful of other women, including Tanner.

The women behind the home wanted to create something that would highlight women in the construction industry. Eventually, The Utah PWB made the decision to build the nation’s first all-women-built home.

The house that she built living room and kitchen
The kitchen and living space utilize neutral earthy colors with dark accents. Photo courtesy Amanda Peterson Photography

The leadership team struggled, however, finding enough local women for each trade. Women make up only 3% of the workforce in construction—so they ended up bringing in women from all over the country. Knowing there would be challenges finding skilled women for specific trades, they also planned to work with women-owned businesses to fill this gap.

But that’s not all—the team faced constant roadblocks during the duration of the project. When it was time to choose the land, for example, they kept getting shut down.

"I don't think that many of the builders felt that we could get it off the ground, or if we did, we would need their help completing it." — Jennie Tanner, President, Utah PWB

Fortunately, the one builder that did offer to help was Oakwood Homes. According to Tanner, they didn’t hesitate to say yes to being a part of the project.

When they got to finally choose a lot in Saratoga Springs, the community had a requirement that the house had to look similar to the others, though they could still make it their own. The team used one of their plans but completely reengineered the entire inside, according to Natalie Miles, project manager and designer for Wardley Homes.

“We did end up changing the exterior as far as materials used on it, but the shell of the home is an Oakwood plan,” she says.

The house that she built bedrooms
The various bedrooms of the house incorporate different themes and color pallets, such as a white brick or wooden wall. Photo courtesy Amanda Peterson Photography

After breaking ground on September 18, 2020, the team found many material donors for the project. All of the lumber was donated by Builders FirstSource and Premier Building Solutions, Trane donated the home’s HVAC systems, the windows were supplied by Amsco, and many more partners had a hand in the project.

By the end of the building process, the team had erected a 3,200-square-foot home, including a finished basement, kids workstation, upstairs laundry room, and flex room.

The house that she built flex room, workstation, second floor
The kids workstation, primary bedroom, and laundry room, all on the second floor. Photo courtesy Amanda Peterson Photography

The team also hosted a “brick signing day,” where they invited young girls to sign their name on the back of a brick before adhering it to the wall together.

“It was such a rewarding day for all of us, and these little girls felt so empowered by this,” says Tanner. “There were a handful of girls that came back with their moms during the Parade of Homes, so excited to show them their brick.”

The house that she built basement bricks
The basement features climbing bars and a kids reading area framed by a brick wall. Photo courtesy Amanda Peterson Photography

According to Tanner, 60% of the proceeds on the home sale will go toward scholarships and grants to help women receive education in the trades. They will also provide grants for women who needed babysitters, gas money to school, or tools.

Twenty percent of the proceeds will go towards general education and perhaps a future project, and then the other 20% will go toward several community outreach projects.

Additionally, the project inspired a children’s book to be written by Mollie Elkman. All of the proceeds of the book will go to NAHB to help increase workforce development.

“We built this home to educate younger generations that there is a place for women in the building industry, and that there are many successful careers and opportunities for them,” says Tanner.

To learn more about The House That SHE Built, you can visit the Utah PWB website or read a summary of Tanner’s presentation on EEBA’s blog page.

For more on women in construction, read it here on Utopia.

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