The house goes up fast

Published 3:30 pm Saturday, October 4, 2008

Though it’s only been a few days since the old DeVries house was torn down as part of the ABC show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” construction on the new house is moving swiftly toward completion thanks to hundreds of volunteers.

Al Larson, the owner of Larson Contracting, the company that is building the house as part of the show, said Friday afternoon that volunteers were ahead of schedule.

Looking onto the scene, it was hard to think that the old DeVries house had been completely demolished on Thursday and that already there had been so much progress with the new one.

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The foundation was in place; a new well was drilled; walls were up; and windows and doors were in place.

By noon Friday, crew workers were set to begin putting in rough electrical and plumbing and to finish putting rafters in place.

“I drove down the road here, and I was speechless,” said Grace DeVries, sister of Dirk DeVries, who is thefather of the family receiving the home makeover.

Grace is from Storden and drove two hours and 15 minutes to see the new house come up.

She watched Friday with her youngest brother, Ron, who lived in the old family farmhouse with Dirk and their siblings and parents when they grew up.

Seeing the house they were so close to brought many mixed emotions, they said.

“It’s one chapter being shut and a new one being open,” Ron said. “It’s an exciting time.”

Larson said before the week began Larson Contracting had actually tightened its schedule by six hours to ensure the house would definitely be done on time. If workers complete the house according to the Larson schedule, they will be done in 100 hours, not the 106 hours that is usually done on the show.

The new house will be a much welcomed gift for the DeVries family, made up of father Dirk, mother Susan, and three children April, Derik and Hanna.

Dirk, 50, works as a mechanic at Royal Sports in Clarks Grove. He used to be a farmer, but a farming accident from his younger years left him without one arm.

Susan, 42, is a music and reading teacher at Hollandale Christian School, who is also known for her artistic talents. She has a heart condition that causes her heart to beat about 120 times per minute.

April is 17, Derik is 15 and Hanna is 12.

Crews were scheduled to begin putting on weather-tight steel roofing starting at 3 p.m. Friday, and by 10 p.m. workers would begin putting siding on the house.

An electrical and plumbing inspection was scheduled for Friday night as well.

On Saturday, the drywall was scheduled to be put up starting at around 3 a.m. and at 6:30 a.m. crews would begin putting in the closets in the house.

By noon, the landscaping was scheduled to begin and go throughout the day.

Painting was scheduled for 1 p.m.; tile work at 4 p.m.; and interior millwork at 8 p.m.

By Sunday, all countertops were scheduled to be installed from 2 to 4 a.m., and more painting of the interior walls and trim was scheduled for 4:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

That 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.

That morning there will be a final inspection and a 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.

Furniture will be moved in right afterward, and a jungle gym will be installed.

“We just invite all spectators to come out and watch,” Larson said. “I think everyone for the support.”

The “move that bus” scene, when the family sees their new home again for the first time is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday.

“I just think it’s fabulous,” said Helen Bales Friday afternoon, as she looked on from the VIP tent. “I think it would be fantastic to go away and come back to a beautiful home.”

Bales’ daughter, Lora Virgil, who was watching the construction with her mother, Friday, said she was asked to be a seamstress for the project.

She didn’t know yet exactly what her duties would be, but she was excited to begin.

“It is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something really cool for somebody,” Virgil said.

Another spectator, Dale Schewe, who had been at the site for several hours on Thursday and Friday, said he couldn’t sleep with all the excitement, so he’s been coming down to the site to watch the progress.

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He said he knows many of the workers, and some have come and given him updates on the construction. Though he does not know the entire family, he has known Dirk since he was 10 or 12, Schewe said.

“I don’t know the family well, but with Dirk it’s all heart,” Schewe said. “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.”

In addition to the floods of spectators that came out to watch the construction, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar visited the site Friday.