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Published:February 15th, 2010 10:15 EST

Extreme Makeover - Oklahoma Style

By Ed Roberts

            On February 1st the Skaggs family received that magical "Door Knock" from the crew of the Extreme Makeover Home Edition television show. A volunteer pep rally had been held on January 26th to start getting people ready, but not even the builders involved had any idea until that Monday morning where the construction would be. Building a house in just 7 days in itself is a remarkable feat. Building one in the conditions that the Oklahoma weather presented at times made this particular episode seem more like filming an episode of "Mission Impossible" instead. In the week prior to the start of construction a single storm had in places dumped over an inch of freezing rain, which then had been topped off with between 7 to 9 inches of snow.

extreme makeover


            Viewers who have followed the show over the past years are often given little real insight to the actual chaos and enormous effort that actually is involved in the actual building of a house in 106 hours from the ground up. In the case of the Skaggs` home, even building up the ground itself proved to be quite an effort. Luckily there was an across-the-board cooperation between several companies: Ideal Homes the builders, Dolese, who provided the concrete and several loads of gravel, Silver Star Construction, and yes, even a few structural engineers from the University of Oklahoma.


            Because of the moisture of the soil and the construction site of the new home being originally a cattle pasture, 2,300 tons of gravel were brought in to give the workers a safer and more stable area to start the construction on. They also constructed a network of walkways, pieces of plywood laid end-to end, which if stretched out in a straight line would easily cover a distance of nearly ½ mile. Because of the low temperatures and the constant threat of more snow, workers from Dolese and the engineers from OU got together and came up with a special blend of concrete that not only would set quickly in these conditions, in around 3 to 4 hours instead of the normal 24 to 36 hours required by some mixtures, but also set without compromising the strength and longevity of the foundation itself. (Normally such efforts are only used in the building of bridges and commercial high-rise projects.)


             From posting sometimes hourly updates on Facebook, listing items needed and updates on their own web site, posting videos on Youtube, and sending out countless e-mails to volunteers and media, the utilization of technology and 24- hour effort behind this project was in itself enormous and well planned. In total the building of this 2,800 square foot ranch house was the combined effort of over 2,500 volunteers who fought extreme weather conditions and sometimes started 6-hour-long shifts at times from 2 AM doing everything from framing, driving backhoes, laying rock, picking up debris, to serving coffee.


There were also over 100 different companies that either donated time, products, equipment or funds to this project.


Yes, we will all sit in our living rooms watching this upcoming episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition and enjoy seeing what is sometimes referred to as the Hollywood version of how a home was built for a family in only 106 hours. After being given the chance, however, to have spent over 3 hours on the actual construction site myself on one 36 degree Friday night, I can attest to the fact that it would be impossible to encapsulate the effort, self sacrifice, and true spirit that it takes to make this one hour episode possible. The true stars of this show, even though their faces may only be visible for seconds on our screens, are what makes me proud to be a resident our great nation, and also a son of Oklahoma as well.