Oct. 2, 2006

Local family witnesses 'Extreme Makeover'

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Tyler Huikko of Dassel was able to contribute to the building of a home for a family in need on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” in September.

Huikko owns Litchfield Flooring and was asked by a friend and former employee to come and be a part of building a home for the show.

He spent three days working on the set and providing volunteer labor for the show, which will air Sunday, Oct. 29 on ABC.

While he worked on ceramic and hardwood flooring for the home, Huikko’s wife and five children had the excitement of watching the creation of the show from the sidelines.

The set and home is located in Toronto, SD, 20 miles from Brookings, SD, Huikko explained.

The makeover was done for the Thibodeaus family. The daughter has had four open heart surgeries and needed a home with better air quality.

The family’s 100-year-old home was torn down and their new home rebuilt in less than one week.

For a home that would normally take three months to complete, the crew had it done in 106 hours, according to Huikko.

At one time, there were up to 60 workers in the house including cabinet installers, finish carpenters, designers and crew, he said.

“Nothing is prebuilt . . . they really do do it in one week,” Huikko said.

Local contractors and volunteers are used for the project, along with donated materials.

A schedule is made so that one day’s work can be completed in one hour’s time, and workers are instructed up to three weeks in advance.

“Everything is run very efficiently,” he said.

Huikko helped install 3,000 square feet of flooring in 10 hours. He and his crew worked from 10 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. Jerry Bonnifield of Dassel also volunteered his time helping Huikko and his flooring crew.

The hole was dug Friday night, and by Wednesday, the house was completed, decorated, and ready to be moved into, he explained.

The show’s designers design the layout and decorating of the home, but Huikko said they definitely don’t do any of the labor, as it appears on the show.

Ty Pennington, the show’s host, kept to his secret room, which happened to be the daughter’s room. Pennington had personally designed the wallpaper for the room.

Huikko got to meet Pennington when he stepped out of the “secret room,” he said.

“He’s very mellow . . . really genuine,” Huikko said.

All the designers were very appreciative to the workers, saying, “We couldn’t do this without you,” and “This isn’t our show, it’s your show,” Huikko explained.

More than 6,000 spectators were there to watch the final day of the show, when the family saw their new home for the first time.

For the show, the crowd had to practice, several times, the phrase, “Move that bus,” he said.

Huikko enjoyed his experience so much he is keeping an eye out for when the show comes to Minnesota, he said.

Although the Huikko family didn’t get to stay to see the end of the show, they did get to meet the designers and get autographed hard hats.

“I liked meeting the designers and seeing the pictures Dad brought home,” said 11-year-old Maegan.

Their family has always made it a family night watching the show together, said wife and mother, Tina Huikko.

“It’s much different seeing it in person,” she said. “It was an eye-opener.”

“A person dreams of having their own house redone, but even though this family has a brand new home, they still have to deal with the daughter’s illness . . . we have to be thankful that we have a happy and healthy family,” Tina said.

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