‘Extreme Makeover Home Edition’ to build new Triad home
By Mark Wineka
LEXINGTON ó When you’re a builder, as David Eller and Jason Hedrick are, you watch “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” with a fair amount of skepticism.
No way those houses are built in a week, they used to think.
They were right. The “Extreme Makeover” houses are actually built in less than a week ó 106 hours, to be exact.
The 39-year-old Hedrick, owner of Hedrick Creative Building in Lexington, has been chosen as the contractor to oversee construction of a new “Extreme Makeover” home in the Triad for a selected family.
The family and where it lives remain a secret to the hundreds of contractors and volunteers who gathered Friday at Reeds Baptist Church for a “pep rally” getting them ready for the next 10 days.
Wednesday, the family chosen will hear the ABC show’s host, Ty Pennington, use his bullhorn to wake them up with a “Good morning.” Later that day, they will be sent away on vacation while demolition begins on their present home.
By Nov. 17, thousands are expected to gather and shout “Move That Bus!” when the family returns and walks into a completely new home designed with its special needs in mind.
From the designs Eller has seen, plans call for a two-story, 3,100-square foot house to replace the existing structure.
All of the labor and materials for the makeover are donated. This is the 165th home built since the show debuted in 2003.
Eller, a co-founder of Salisbury-based Makson Plumbing and Construction Inc., expects to devote 30 people to the project and be part of the construction management team over five days. Makson will receive no compensation for its time.
After the project is finished, ABC provides a link on the “Extreme Makeover” Web site to participating contractors such as Makson.
Eller has attended three meetings so far getting contractors ready for the madness that lies ahead.
Makson is a general development and contracting company which has built residential and multi-family housing projects throughout the Southeast.
Eller knew he wanted to participate when he heard a radio advertisement soliciting companies such as his.
“We just volunteered and asked if there was anything they needed,” Eller said Friday. “They really needed help on the build team.”
During the build, Makson crews probably will work the daytime shifts, which extend from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. in the round-the-clock project. They will help with things such as sheetrock, plumbing, framing and finish work.
Eller was on hand Friday morning for the rally at Reeds Baptist Church, where the show’s executive producer, Conrad Ricketts, introduced key people associated with the build.
Ricketts said each project is not only life-changing for the needy families selected but also for the people who join forces to build the house. He said the show and the way it brings a community together represent a larger statement of “who we are and what we believe as a nation.”
“Extreme Makeover Home Edition” is aired in 69 other countries, and the Triad episode eventually will reach a billion people, Ricketts said.
“I believe the show is one of the greatest ambassadors of any show out there,” he added.
Food and blood drives also will be associated with the project, and Ricketts challenged those gathered Friday to collect more than 20,000 pounds of food and secure more than 500 units of blood during the build.
Huge crowds show up for the “reveal.” A makeover in a Wisconsin town of 61 people drew 17,000 people the day when the show moved that bus.
Another reveal attracted 30,000 people, Ricketts said, explaining how the idea surfaced to use those large numbers of people for food and blood drives.
In what he described as the “Super Bowl for builders,” Ricketts assured the contractors that a new home can be constructed in 106 hours and that no one has failed in the 164 previous builds.
Some serious logistics will be involved around the build site. It will have to include areas for parking, the staging of materials, media and spectators. Whole streets and roads may have to be blocked.
For any family to be selected depends in large part on whether their neighbors are willing to live with a closed street, bright lights at night, portable toilets in their front yards, trucks and people.
“You know what neighbors say?'” Ricketts said. “‘How can I help?'”
Producers urged the volunteers to show patience with security throughout the project, wherever it ends up.
Meeting the families who are receiving the makeover “really does change your life,” Ricketts said.
Hedrick will be greeting the family Wednesday morning. He has been working for almost four weeks in lining up the contractors, caterers, crews and volunteers and soliciting donations.
Hedrick said he signed on quickly when asked because he thinks it will lift the spirits of a community hit hard by the recession.
“I wanted to do it right away but couldn’t believe it was the real thing,” he said, recalling the first telephone call he received.
A main reason Hedrick was chosen by the show’s producers is that he’s a green builder, and the new home will be built to certain environmental standards.
Hedrick said a lot of materials are still needed, including flashings, lumber, sheetrock, spray foam insulation and food for the workers. Design producers also are looking for donations of new computers, clothing, gift cards, trees and plants. Painters and wallpaper hangers are needed, too.
“This community has been buzzing the last couple of days,” said the Rev. David Williams, pastor of Reeds Baptist Church. “A family in the next few days is going to be blessed, ministered to.”