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‘Extreme Makeover’: Working in the middle of the night

Though the average person was probably asleep at 2 a.m. Sunday, the construction site of the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” project for the DeVries family was busy with activity.

It would have been pitch black if it weren’t for the high-beam lights surrounding the site, but that didn’t stop a couple hundred skilled and unskilled volunteers from fulfilling their assigned tasks with determination.

Thanks to the high-beam lights, the site could be seen for miles from all sides.

The DeVries family, which consists of parents, Dirk and Susan, and their three children, April, 17, Derik, 15, and Hanna, 12, received word Tuesday morning that they had been chosen for the home makeover.

Their old house was demolished Thursday afternoon, and ever since, volunteers have been working around the clock to build them a new home. The family comes home Tuesday to see their new house for the first time.

‘It’s unreal’

While a light rain in the area Sunday morning thinned out spectators to less than a handful of people, it didn’t hamper the efforts of the volunteers, who are on a strict time schedule to get the house completed in 106 hours.

Father and son Ron and Troy Olson were over at the site of the DeVries home at about 2 a.m. Sunday morning. They had finished harvesting soybeans and decided to see how things were going with the makeover, they said.

“It just amazes me what they did in a day,” Ron said.

He had been at the site the day before and was in awe of all the changes that had happened to the house just in 24 hours. He wondered how crews could get it all done so fast.

“It’s unreal,” he said.

Ron said he’s known Dirk for years. He described the father as “a super guy and a great individual.”

Around 2 a.m. Sunday, countertops were scheduled to be installed at the house, and painting of the interior walls and trim was scheduled for 4:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Sunday afternoon, final hardware was scheduled to be installed, including bath and toilet accessories, and the security of the house was set to be completed.

On Monday, a final clean of the house is scheduled for the morning hours with final touchups happening as well.

There will be a final inspection and street sweep, among other things, and then by 2 p.m., the keys of the house will be turned over to the “Extreme Makeover” staff. At that point furniture will be moved in.

Though it’s a whirlwind task to build a house in 106 hours, by the sights of things during the weekend, it looked like the goal will be attainable.

Steak at 2 a.m.?

To help rejuvenate the workers who were working the late-night shift, local businesses signed up all week to feed the crews.

During the 2 a.m. shift throughout the week, business including Hy-Vee, Domino’s, Pizza Ranch and J&B Group provided food to workers.

Early Sunday morning, J&B Group grilled No Name steaks for the skilled volunteers.

“We thought it was a great cause — something we could do,” said Todd Ulve, territory sales manager with the company. “There seems to be a lot of interest.”

Seven J&B Group employees and two spouses arrived at the site at midnight Sunday to begin grilling 250 steaks.

“They’ve been really appreciative of the food and everything else,” said Steve Falk, region business manager. “It’s nice to be able to contribute and help out.”

Their shift went until 4 a.m.

“I think it’s really cool to have the whole community come out and get this thing done,” Falk said.

Doug Watters, a marketing employee with No Name steaks, drove down from St. Michael earlier in the night for the shift. In addition to providing steaks at an event such as the home makeover, he said the business has also provided steaks at other events in the past, including the Republican National Convention last month for 3,000 law enforcement officers.

“We can feed an army or we can feed a crew of people working on a house,” he said.

J&B Group also plans to stock the DeVrieses’ new freezer full of the company’s branded products, No Name steaks, chicken and seafood.

LuAnn Mannes of Larson Contracting, who has been manning the volunteer tent with Jennifer Fjelstad and Barb Renshaw at night, said the overnight shift has been a good one, and despite the late hours everyone who’s signed up for the time has shown up.

One night, the unskilled volunteers had some unglamorous jobs, including crawling into the crawl spaces of the house and putting in insulation.

“I enjoy this overnight shift,” Mannes said. “It’s a little less stressful and everyone’s showing up.”

Wendy’s fed the skilled workers during the 10 p.m. Saturday shift. They gave leftover chili and Frosty shakes to spectators.