Home Makeover

Nearing completion: Workers scale ladders on the back of the Home Makeover site while painting windows and installing siding.

BUNKER HILL – It is a matter of hours before ABC-TV reality show star Ty Pennington pulls out his megaphone and shouts, “Move that bus,” out front of 11040 S. 100 West in rural Miami County.

Pennington and his team surprised the Cowan-Brown family Wednesday with the announcement that “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” was going to build the six-person family a new home.

The show chose the family largely because of 12-year-old Kori Brown, who has a congenital blood disease. During her frequent trips to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, she befriended a girl with cancer. Since then, she has raised more than $35,000 for the American Cancer Society in her friend’s honor.

About five years ago, the family began seeing mold grow in its home. The allergen began to cause complications with Kori’s illness, as well as cause medical problems for her older brother.

ABC enlisted Anderson-based general contractor Hallmark Homes Inc. to spearhead constructing the house, which will be between 3,000 and 3,500 square feet when its finished.

After the company announced the show’s visit to the area, hundreds of skilled and non-skilled volunteers signed up to help.

The 106-hour clock to finish the project began Thursday after the demolition.

But the rain that came Friday delayed construction by as much as 15 hours, Hallmark Homes CEO Derek Wilder said Monday.

The rain’s timing was what stalled the project, a weary Wilder said after trudging through mud and straw to the opposite side of the street.

“It could rain today, the roof’s on. It could rain when you’re framing; doesn’t really bother us,” he said. “[But] it’s hard to build a crawl space when the basement is flooding.”

The project was more-or-less back on schedule by Monday afternoon, he said.

Project leaders hoped to hand the keys over to the show’s designers by late Monday night, leaving landscaping to finish today before “Extreme Makeover” film crews begin filming the episode’s finale.

ABC plans to film the “Move That Bus” scene, when Ty Pennington and cast will reveal the house to the Cowan-Brown family, tentatively beginning between 1 and 3 p.m. today.

While skilled volunteers finished painting and flooring inside the house, other volunteers began preparing interior work.

Janice Lagzdins, owner of Banner’s Flower House in Kokomo, said she and her staff spent Monday preparing close to 50 floral arrangements to decorate the house’s interior.

“We are under the gun, and [Kokomo’s Syndicate Sales Inc.] very graciously furnished all the containers,” Lagzdins said. “There are a few, little, subtle flowers, and there are some huge, impressive, knock-your-socks-off arrangements.”

Jennifer Butcher, a designer for the flower shop, said she has been working with a liaison for “Extreme Makeover’s” interior design team, preparing customized arrangements for each room of the house.

“[The show] went through each room with us and told us what they were looking for as far as what kinds of colors and designs,” Butcher said. “They were not specific about flowers, which was good. Then they let us keep a copy of the plans.

“We got a lot of information that really helped us, and I’m working through each room, one at a time.”

Wilder said interior design teams would go inside the house once the workers had installed flooring – which won’t include any carpeting because it attracts mold - and cabinets, as well as finished painting walls.

“Dozens of guys are working all day, going home, getting three hours of sleep, and doing it for four, five days straight,” he said. “I can tell you there’s a huge price some of these people have paid to get this house done.”

• Daniel Human is a Kokomo Tribune staff writer. He can be reached at 765-454-8570 or at daniel.human@kokomotribune.com.

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