ABC's Emmy-award winning "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" collaborates
with a team of builders, designers, contractors and hundreds of workers who
all have just seven days to rebuild an entire house. By Carina Calhoun
"It never gets old. I always make it a point after
we yell 'Move that bus' to turn my eyes right to
the family. I've seen the house -- I don't need
to see it again," stated host Ty Pennington of
ABC's hit television show, Extreme Makeover:
Home Edition" (EMHE). Known for its popular
catch phrase, the show transforms the homes
of deserving families as well as their lives. It's a race against time on
a project that would normally span several months, involving a team
of designers, contractors and hundreds of workers who all have just
seven days to rebuild an entire house. However, with the dedicated cast
and crew, and the experience and assistance of local builders for each
project, they have a way of making it look easy.
The decision-making process of picking a deserving family is a lengthy
process, according to show producer George Verschoor, the founder
and president of Santa
Monica-based, Hoosick Falls
Productions. He explained,
"One of the key factors that we have to consider first is, do we have a
really great builder in that area that can partner with us to pull this off?"
The Emmy-award winning show started off its ninth season in
September 2011 with a special two-part premier featuring an appearance
by first lady, Michelle Obama. As part of her joining forces with the
initiative, Mrs. Obama participated in the episode featuring the Marshalls,
a military family based in Fayetteville, N.C. Barbara Marshall, a 15-year
Navy Veteran, established the Jubilee House that offers shelter, support
and services to homeless female veterans.
The EMHE team, builder, Chip Smith of Blue Ridge Log Cabins, and
thousands of volunteers took on the transformation of the Jubilee House,
with the help of the first lady.
Brady Connell, executive
producer and director of EMHE,
said, "It was an incredible
experience for all of us having
the first lady on the set helping
and it was quite a testament
to the volunteers and the work
that they are doing is valued."
The challenging undertaking of
this 5,000 square-foot project
was a sizeable accomplishment
and an extraordinary
community effort in partnership
with a powerhouse woman like
Michelle Obama. Pennington commented, "I was, of course, in awe of her
as our First Lady and because she's incredibly cool -- I mean, she showed
up wearing old school Chuck Taylors and got right to work." He continued,
"More than that she's also incredibly easy to be around. She was laughing
and joking with us on location and her interest in how we pull it off every
week was sincere and flattering."
Early in the episode, Mrs. Obama took Pennington and viewers on a tour
of the most famous house in the nation -- The White House. She even took
him on a tour of the garden and informed him it may be a good idea to have
a similar garden at the Jubilee House. The log home was assembled from 13
modular units over seven days with the help of more than 4,000 volunteers.
Smith, a member of NAHB's Building Systems
Councils and Log Home Council, donated the
home, and local companies and individuals
donated supplies, materials and funds to
help complete the house. "Blue Ridge Log
Homes is the only company in the world
to combine log and modular construction
building systems," said Smith. "Our creativity
and innovative practices have allowed us to be
successful and give back to the community
through this tough time for home builders."
Keeping with the theme of supporting
the troops, EMHE traveled to Ottawa, Kan.,
to transform the lives of the Hill family. Staff
Sergeant, Allen Hill, was almost killed by
a massive roadside bomb while serving in Iraq and, as a result, suffers
from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) episodes, which cause
the environmental surroundings of his home to trigger these episodes.
Award-winning actress Glenn Close nominated this family for the show.
She founded a not-for-profit organization in 2009, "Bring Change 2 Mind,"
to combat the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses, including PTSD.
The organization sourced a piece of land and assisted in its donation for
the Hills' new house in a safe and quiet area. Pennington, and designers
Paul DiMeo, Paige Hemmis, Ed Sanders and Johnny Littlefield, as well as
local builders M.A.C. Corporation and Canyon Creek Construction, LLC
and community volunteers, built brand new home for the family. The new
two-story house will measure about 3,400 square feet and will also have
finished basement. Their home is now a 2,200 square-foot ranch.
"The show is very much about the American Dream and delivering
that dream of owning a home. It's about family and community and it's
about how a home and design can transform a person's life," explained
Verschoor. With the ability to alter the lives of a person and dedicate a
project to a family that has suffered a hardship will pull at the heartstrings of
any viewer," Connell said, "The idea of matching up the television industry
with the construction industry probably wouldn't be something that people
would normally think of. But ultimately, it is a good matchup. Everyone has
the same goal and that is to put a family that has suffered some sort of
hardship into a new home. We're unrelated industries but we all have the
same intentions. The two worlds don't collide, they come together."
Providing residential contractors and builders alike with innovative
ideas and techniques, EMHE offers insight into the world of remodeling.
"I do think that our show does several things to support contractors. The
innovative technology we use not only in the building materials, but in the
actual assembly of our homes is something I know other contractors find
interesting." For homeowners, there are several ideas and alternatives,
for instance, green living options, using healthier building materials,
and even some of the space-saving design elements that are
incorporate. Pennington added, "If nothing else, our show often leads
to more productive conversation between builder and homeowner."
Though, just like all construction projects, there is no exception to
challenges because it is a television show. If anything, often time the
project's undergo extremely difficult conditions or roadblocks because
of their tight production scheduling. Pennington explained, "What we're
asking our builders to do is completely unrealistic and we know that
from the start. So what drives me to push our builders is the story of the
family we're helping." He continued, "I get that the builders are under a
tremendous amount of stress, so I just try to help them see the light at
the end of the tunnel -- that incredible moment when the bus moves
and someone's life completely changes because of their hard work."
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