Ahead of schedule

Published 11:09 am Tuesday, October 7, 2008

HAYWARD — With less than 24 hours to go until the family of Dirk and Susan DeVries returns to their new home in rural Hayward, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” designers and volunteers were busy Monday afternoon moving in furniture, decorating the recently-built house and adding any last-minute touches to the home.

Larson Contracting, the company hired to build the house, finished it late Sunday night, in less than the 106 hours allotted to the construction.

Al Larson, owner of the company, said crews actually finished the house in less than 100 hours.

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Just last Tuesday, Dirk, Susan and their three children — April, Derik and Hanna — received a knock on their door from celebrity Ty Pennington and his TV crew, telling their family they would be receiving a home makeover.

Last Thursday, their old home was demolished to make way for the new home, which would be devoid of problems, and then starting that afternoon, crews have been working around the clock.

At the site Monday morning, volunteers were cleaning the house and finishing to lay sod in the surrounding areas.

A few hours later starting at noon, a couple hundred people lined up along the barricades in the spectator area to watch as a few last-minute exterior details were completed. They were mainly there, however, to witness the Larson Contracting crew officially turn the keys of the house back over to the “Extreme Makeover” producers. Throughout the week the turnover was scheduled for 2 p.m., but when construction went ahead of schedule, there was word that it would be at 1 p.m.

It wasn’t until 3 p.m., however, that producers directed the spectators to hold the noise down, as they were going to begin filming.

Camera crews filmed “Extreme Makeover” designers Paul DiMeo, Eduardo Xol, Johnny Littlefield and Tracy Hutson walking around the side of the house cheering, and then the crews moved toward the front door of the house. As the spectators leaned up against the barricades with their cameras poised for some photos, the members of the crowd buzzed with excitement as celebrity Ty Pennington came out of the front door of the new DeVries home.

After a few takes, Pennington and Larson — surrounded by several others with Larson Contracting — placed a tile made by Susan with a butterfly painted on it right in front of the door.

“He said ‘This is the last thing we need,’” Larson said, paraphrasing what Pennington stated during the filming.

Larson added that at that point on film he said, “We just turned this house into a home.”

Following the turnover, volunteers walked down the DeVrieses’ driveway in front of one of several moving trucks, as producers encouraged spectators to cheer loudly.

After they had made it to the house, the volunteers ran to the back of the truck and Pennington and DiMeo jumped up into it to begin handing furniture off the truck.

“I can’t hear you!” Pennington said to the volunteers who were clapping as they unloaded the truck.

After re-filming the scene one more time, out came pillows, rugs, tables, mirrors a chandelier, lamps, couches and a piano.

“We never really knew how much they had to redo and redo,” said spectator Deb Schewe who was watching it all with her mother, Bev Weitzel. “We never really thought about it.”

Weitzel said she and her daughter — along with many others in the crowd — were excited when they got to see Pennington.

“He looks the same as he does on the TV,” she said. “It’s really awesome. The family will be so excited when they come home.”

She said she had come out to the house every day to witness the construction. She looks forward to Tuesday when the DeVries come home.

“It’s brought a lot of people together,” Weitzel said. “The caring and sharing — all the love that comes out of it. It shows what a bunch of people can do together. We’ll never see anything like this again.”

“When you see something like this, it’s just awesome,” Schewe added.

One of Susan’s sisters, Gloria Hoyles of Colorado, said she and her family have been overwhelmed with the generosity of everyone involved.

“How do you tell everybody thank you,” she asked. “My heart is so full. I’m ready to move that bus so they can see the house.”

In Austin, residents may have seen “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” vehicles cruising around town Monday and filming as a luxury bus came through. In addition, several local businesses took part in helping with catering throughout the makeover.