Extreme Makeover Twin Ports edition

The house they’re fixin’ up is on Swamp Road.
I feel sorry for the family already and I don’t even know their story.

25 Comments

Mo

about 13 years ago

I DO know this family. Well, its been awhile but I worked with both Howie and his wife at the scenic about 8 years ago. They were and probably still are very kind people and I am really happy for them.

E.

about 13 years ago

Mounting soapbox...
The whole premise of this show is assinine. Instead of picking 1 of 5 northland families, how about spending the same money to rehab all 5 homes to a less rediculous extent?
Also, the end product will be a crap house with fresh paint and impressive looking surface applied googaws. For instance I can all but guarantee the person donating windows will give then the crappiest windows available to minimize their outlay for the 15 minutes of press they will receive.
How about building a super energy efficient house for these folks. They could verify the build quality with a blower door test and by publishing the specifications on the materials, products, and mechanical systems. That won't ever happen because everybody knows what they build is really fancy crap.
Will it help this family immediately? Perhaps. In 30 years though there will be another family in the "new" house that will scarecly be better than what they are tearing down today. 
If you want to see somebody doing something intellegent, look at what Brad Pitt is doing in New Orleans. Durable, affordable, well designed housing for the masses.
Dismounting soapbox...
E.

locavore

about 13 years ago

E -
I get your point and agree to the extent that it would be great to help more than one family. However, in the interest of fairness, this particular build is specifically being built with green components and in an energy efficient manner. This is one reason they chose Builder's Commonwealth as the builder - they wanted someone who was familiar with sustainable building practices. 
I would argue that the premise of the show is less about helping one family and more about how a community can accomplish a lot when many people come together, no matter what the cause is - but that's my soapbox, not yours. As my granny Irene used to say, "Many hands make light work." I'd like to see something like this continue on a smaller scale just as you described. I wonder how that could work?

brian

about 13 years ago

Locavore:
Habitat for Humanity has been doing what you're describing for quite awhile.
Unfortunately, it doesn't make for exciting weekly TV.

E.

about 13 years ago

Good point Brian.
As for Locavore, I am sticking to my points with further explanation. I do know that Builders Commonwealth is a good builder, and that they do beautiful work, but the problem is exactly what you state. I am going to rant now...
You say this house is "being built with green components and in an energy efficient manner". That, in reality, means NOTHING. Can you even tell me what it means, specifically, for this project? 
Every builder from here to the moon will say that about every project they build. My stance is "Prove it!". Do a blower door test, release the specifications on the window U-values, and wall R-values. Show me how the house is designed for passive solar gain and to resist excessive solar gain in the summer. Show me the water saving plumbing layout and LED light fixtures. You never get that from Extreme Makeover because it is not present.
They may say it is "Energy Star Rated",but that is a very low bar to jump, barely above code minimuns. Minnesota EEE is better, but not a lot. At least they require third party verification of the air tightness. 
Using low VOC paints doesn't make it a "green" project when the house is loaded with energy sucking phantom load electronics, but they will tell you it is "green" every chance they get.
The show could showcase and inform about good practice in design and construction, but all you will hear about it the mural on the kid's room wall which he will hate two years from now.
Don't be fooled by the green-washing.

E.

Tony D.

about 13 years ago

Locavore:

The premise of the show is "get some community to donate time, labor, food, materials, etc., so our cost of productions dwindles and we can produce weekly, one-hour long commercials for Disney and Sears--and make even more money selling commercial time as well!" Believe me you, this "reality" show makes Disney/ABC much more $ than they spend producing it.

I'm happy for the family and happy it gives some good press to Builder's Commonwealth and others donating their time, and I hope it does good things for all the builders in our community. But the methods the producers use to pull this off can be rather strong arm: I've heard several stories from different, reliable sources in the local food industry about how the producers have all but extorted local restaurants and schools to provide free meals; in turn those organizations have been forced to ask their distributors for free product as well, and their corporate offices are saying "no," which puts it back on the restaurant/school to foot the bill--who wants to be the organization (or community) that said "no thanks" to the producer's request to "help pitch in"? (This is just to feed the workers; apparently Ty and the rest of the "talent" have their own L.A.-based caterers flown in to serve them; these caterers have also asked local food distributors for free food.)

But really, isn't the underlying message of this show "any poor family's problems will go away if they just live in a McMansion"? How's the family going to pay the bills on this gargantuan pile of plywood when it's done? (Granted, this particular one will be more energy efficient.) What happens when the six-year-old who likes race cars, for instance, turns into the cynical teenager who doesn't? Who pays to redo that ridiculous bedroom? The show is a grotesque display of over-consumption. At least this one will be greener than the others.

So who really benefits more in the long run, the families or Disney? If they really wanted to do this for the good of those poor folks out of the kindness of their hearts, they wouldn't be blowing their own horn every Sunday night. And like E. said, perhaps five families, not just one, could live in modern but modest, well-built homes they can actually afford to maintain.

(Now THAT was a soapbox rant, E. Must be time for my meds!)

mevdev

about 13 years ago

The show exists to sell ads. That is a fact. They get their materials for free or cheap because they give them advertisements. That is just like selling ads.

They get a ton of press from these things, that is why they do them all over the US. It increases exposure.

It comes down to mass marketers asking for stuff for free. Kudos to them for the good idea, but I will not tune in.

I hope the builders are getting paid, because the personalities sure are.

Chris

about 13 years ago

The windows are triple pane H windows, not exactly bottom of the line Home Depot windows.  
  http://www.hwindow.com/index.htm

locavore

about 13 years ago

Sure, some cynicism is warranted since every television show out there is supported by ads - this one is no exception.
I have seen the construction schedule but I'm also under a confidentiality agreement. I can say that I know the family will now have safe drinking water and proper waste disposal. There is definitely more than greenwashing going on. I know what the roof material is and that alone is a big step in the right direction. There's more, but the gist is that I just can't buy that the house will be poorly built with what I've seen. I really wish I could say more, but I just hope you hold out judgement until you see the actual build. I think you'll be impressed at what they are doing. I was skeptical too until I saw what was happening - at least on paper.
As for the food, ABC is covering breakfast and lunch every day. It's the other meals they are going to local businesses for. The rumor mill at my end is that they had more offers than meals they needed.  I hadn't heard that the network caterers were soliciting donations. That's a new one on me and sad if it is true. I just hope it's a good thing in the end for the family.

Beverly

about 13 years ago

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" is fun to watch. Sheesh, you can suck the joy out of anything if you try hard enough. I want to go out there next week and scream "move that bus!"

R

about 13 years ago

With the applications for duluthcasting.com you would assume it was Duluth that Extreme Makeover was building a house. Here in Duluth there is more rules and regulations to get permits and inspectors to come promptly.  Extreme Makeover  needs things done when they need it done. Duluth lost a lot of money in revenue due to them going to WI. I'm sure there will be some things bought here but why should they if this was the case?
This is probably why things were changed to the Northland.

The Doog

about 13 years ago

Some of Superior's building codes are even tougher then duluth.  You cant even erect one of those backyard storage sheds Menards sells on their sidewalk without a permit.

doubledutch

about 13 years ago

i agree with beverything you said!  i used to love watching it on sunday nights (because i like to cry), but we don't have tv anymore.  i heard about this from my neighbor (a builder) and i was happy about a local family getting a new house.  even if it's not up to everyone's green standards, i'm sure it's a lot better.

E.

about 13 years ago

Okay, from the article in the paper today it sounds like they might be doing most things right, which would be a radical departure from the norm, but they do deserve credit where due. 2300 square feet is a reasonable size for a family of 4-6. Triple pane windows can make a big difference depending upon the glazing spec, assuming they are installed correctly, which I WILL assume because Builder's Commonwealth is a good builder.
I am also assuming they are building it with SIPs which will give them a very good R-value. SIPs alone don't guarantee a tight house, but again I am assuming that Builder's will seal it well too. The article also states that they are taking solar gain into consideration which is huge. Sounds like they are doing their part to sort and recycle the demolished structure as well. So, I will give them a reprieve from my previous rants, for the time being. I may even sing their praises one day if this becomes a trend rather than an exception. I still do contend, however, that a blower-door test should be done. Who knows, maybe they will actually do it.
I would also like to think that it is our local building ethic that put many of these things into play, but we may never know that for sure.
Maybe I will even watch part of the show while eating a slice of humble pie, but probably not because Ty is still really annoying.

wildgoose

about 13 years ago

Ty is great.  It's network TV.  And Sunday night network TV, at that.  Major league.  He plays that crowd like a fiddle (note double dutch and the tear comment).  Heck, sometimes I've even cried watching the show.

Chris

about 13 years ago

I have to give credit to E. for backing off his earlier comments.  Very few people on forums like this admit they may have been wrong on their earlier rants.  Not sure if they will do the blower test or not.  If they choose not to, I'm sure it will be more of a time consideration than anything.  Builders is capable of building a tight and efficient house.  I was also quite happy to hear that the house is only going to be 2300 sq ft.  It's going to make it much easier for us to paint it come Friday.  And I do agree that a lot of the McMansions the show usually builds are totally impractical and a waste of resources.  Hopefully we'll set a trend with this build.

kokigami

about 13 years ago

I currently work with Howie, and can confirm Mo's thought. They are both really great people. 

As to the quality of the build, I would argue that, because the contractors are local, and the project such a high visibility thing, and the community so small, no one is going to skimp on components. People know people, and word would get out, and that would be very bad for them. 

I am not a fan of the show, having only seen a few bits over the years. (that is not to say I dislike it either) The show specializes in capitalizing on the buzz of celebrity. By getting a camera here, and a couple of national personalities, they get people to bend over backwards for someone else. The shame is that people don't do that more when there is no celebrity effect. These armies of volunteers don't volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, for example, because there is no camera crew and no Ty or Paige. Hopefully the buzz and good will carry forward for a few months. They are benefiting the food shelves, and there is a small MDA event in the works. Maybe more people will join Habitat for Humanity.

jill

about 13 years ago

I've been out at the site all week and I can tell you that they're doing it up right: Wind turbine, solar panels (won't be here in time for the family's return, though), composting trough with worms, extensive gardens, metal roof, and the team was able to keep all existing trees except for one, plus move in a lot of new foliage...even transplant some of the original family's vegetable which are doing remarkably well. What a true community effort.  Kind of makes me wish we could work so well together on other community projects, but perhaps this will get the fires burning.

Tony D.

about 13 years ago

While I remain extremely cynical about ABC/Disney/Sears, et al, the news regarding this project's quality of build, green methods/materials, reuse, energy efficiency, and modest size are very, very encouraging. I hope that this is the beginning of a trend for the show, where they highlight modest, environmentally and economically conscious construction that acts as an example. I think this would be especially important when the nation is going through a recession driven in part by a housing crisis caused by folks getting/banks giving huge loans for McMansions the owners could not afford.

brian

about 13 years ago

With my luck, here's what would happen if Ty and the gang decided to build a house for me. They'd do their pre-interview, we'd discuss the awesomeness of guitars, drums, kayaks, oscilloscopes, power tools, gin and tonics, art, vintage barware, bikes, Ween, and Ren & Stimpy. Then they'd look through my stuff, see a "Sound of Music" VHS tape on the shelf, and surprise me with a Julie Andrews-themed bedroom.

baci

about 13 years ago

the hills would be alive... say no more!

wildgoose

about 13 years ago

Well, we went out there on Sunday and I do not regret one second of the 45 minute drive out there.  The people were really nice.  The scale of the build was astonishing, but the house, as Tony D noted, was of a human scale.  NOT ostentatious, I would say.  We saw both Ty and Paige and they smiled and waved and my girls swoomed, especially for Ty.  They had at least a truck load of donated food, and I liked seeing the many many local businesses and contractors who had been around helping.  

--

I would not mind a Julie Andrews themed room so much.  Keeping in mind that you are dealing with Disney and there are far worse things they could come up with for my tastes ... 

http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?t=57234  to get you started

Leave a Comment

Only registered members can post a comment , Login / Register Here

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Read previous post:
End of Stagecoaches in Duluth

On August 1, 1870, the St. Paul and Lake Superior Stagecoaches ceremoniously quit service with the opening of the Lake...

Close