Behind the Scenes with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

January 5, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Even after 137 homes and five years of doing the show, executive producer Conrad Ricketts still gets emotional when he talks about the family that inspired the first episode. In front of a crowd of about 200 Fresno volunteers and construction workers, Ricketts' voice cracked as he described driving around a Southern California neighborhood and stumbling upon the "nastiest house on the block." Outside, stood a beautiful 8-year-old girl holding a paint brush. When he asked her mother why the house looked like it did, she told him the little girl's battle with leukemia ate up all the family's time and money. That's when, he said, he discovered the soul of the show.Extreme Makeover: Home Edition receives 3,000 to 5,000 applications a day! Ricketts didn't reveal the family selection process, but said for every family they are able to help, he hopes many more are inspired to do their own "extreme makeovers" for friends or neighbors in need.

Ricketts went on to compare the process of building a home to childbirth and warfare. He described how competing contractors come together to accomplish the seemingly impossible. Framing is completed in 16 hours. Drywall in 4 hours. The actual home building timeline is just 106 hours, from the time the family leaves the home to the time the family arrives for the big reveal.

The production company actually tackles two homes a week, to keep up with ABC's demand for weekly episodes. So for example, Ty Pennington and his team will be in Fresno for the first few days, fly to another location for a few days, then return to Fresno to wrap up the week. Each 45-minute episode requires 600 to 800 hours of tape. While the on-camera talent does do a lot of their own custom design work there is a whole team of design producers that really get to know the family's needs, desires, hopes and dreams and translate all that into the final home.

Stay with Action News and www.abc30.com to find out what family is selected and where they live on Thursday January 8th.

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