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Up Close With Extreme Makeover

On Sunday and Monday evening, March 7-8, viewers nationwide watched as “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” built one of their largest and most sophisticated homes to date. And that home, located in Center Point, Ala., was built for a family with a significant family need. I am still fascinated by the story of why and how they accomplished this enormous feat.

When the trucks rolled into our town on Monday it appeared to be an impossible task, to demolish a house and rebuild a new one in seven days. But the crew from “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” had accomplished this feat numerous times.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
On Monday Jan. 31, the “Extreme Home Makeover” team rolled into Center Point and gave the Harris family the surprise of a lifetime. Chris and Diamond Harris had become well known in central <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Alabama a little over two years ago when they welcomed sextuplets into the world.
 
Obviously in need of more space, the Harris family was selected from among hundreds of families that had submitted an application to be considered for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” one of ABC’s most popular programs. And suddenly, on a cold Monday morning, celebrity designer Ty Pennington appeared at the front door of the Harris’ home acknowledging that they had been selected to receive a new home.
 
The entire Harris family was quickly whisked off to Disney World for the week so that the process of demolishing and rebuilding their home could begin immediately. Then, “lights, action, camera!”
 
Throughout the week, many of us watched in amazement and awe as the crew from “Extreme Makeover” partnered with local contractors and countless volunteers to accomplish their mission in an unbelievably short period of time.
 
Then, on day seven, exactly one week after work on the Harris project began, over 4,000 area residents watched as the Harris family returned and the “Extreme Makeover” crew unveiled the new 5,000 square-foot Tudor style house that now stood on the same foundation once occupied by the Harris’ former home. And in a few weeks, a national television audience will watch the miracle transformation unfold step by step.
 
How did the team accomplish such a challenging mission in such a short period of time? Their planning, their work ethic and their sheer determination have intrigued me. Throughout the week, I noted the principles that drive the makeover project.
 
First, tearing down the old is the first step in building the new. The old house had to be demolished before the new house could be built. As one group of trucks hauled away the debris from the old house, new trucks brought new supplies for new construction.
 
Second, little hindrances do not deter determined workers. The weather was uncooperative, persistently soggy and cold for most of the week. Some supplies were delayed. A few pieces of equipment malfunctioned. But the effort was not compromised by the challenges. Each hindrance was hurdled one at a time.
 
Third, good planning is essential. It was quite obvious that several persons had done their homework, literally. Planning had begun long before the crew arrived and the public announcement was made. This massive project had been broken down into a list of smaller tasks.
 
The time spent in planning and coordination behind the scenes paid huge dividends in the success of the project.
 
Fourth, workers were assigned tasks according to their area of experience and expertise. Architects developed plans. Carpenters hammered. Painters painted. Masons laid the brick. The tasks required numerous workers all committed to the same mission. Effective completion of the specific smaller tasks made possible the success of the larger project because every worker followed the same master plan.
 
And finally, the team balanced work and rest throughout the week. The project continued 24 hours a day for seven days. But no one person worked 24/7. There were refreshment breaks and meal times throughout the workday. And the work crews worked rotating shifts, with each crew having a time to work and a time to rest.
 
While watching this unusual operation, it occurred to me that all kinds of makeovers require perseverance, determination, and cooperation. And nearly impossible missions can be accomplished when willing individuals devote themselves to a worthy cause.
 
Barry Howard is a minister and columnist who resides in Birmingham, Ala.