Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Extreme Makeover Too Extreme?

Extreme Makeover Too Extreme?

I've lived in DC and environs for a heckuva long time. So, when my SIL told me about the big goings-on up Northeastern Wisconsin way, I had a hard time getting excited.

But this really was a big deal. "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" visited smallish Neenah, WI in mid-August. When I dropped Ella Numera Dos off at college a week after the onslaught, I got an earful ~ and an eyeful, too.

Residents of this burg, situated somewhere between Oshkosh and Green Bay, got their own eyeful over the 105 hours ~ roughly six days, from dawn until close to midnight ~ it took to tear down the Arboleda family's teeny-tiny (586 square feet) dwelling and construct the mammoth (4,200 square feet) faux-tudor house that took its place on the 700 block of Elm Street.

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" fans will get to witness some of the excitement the family, my in-laws and the rest of the 25,000 Neenah residents experienced first-hand when the episode airs October 17.

Yes, Ty Pennington was there, seemingly 24/7. So was "Dancing with the Stars" star Derek Hough, along with a few of his friends from that show. And rapper Xzibit, too. Mr. Arboleda is a local elementary school music teacher; hence, the emphasis on the performing arts in this particular episode.

The local paper estimates that about 8,000 folks were on hand for the big "reveal," after the family of seven returned from Disney World and Ty exhorted behind-the-scenes forces to "Move that bus!" So many gawkers hung out on Elm Street during the week of construction that they destroyed the lawns of all the neighbors. The show's producers graciously paid to re-landscape all the wrecked properties.

The Arboledas call their good fortune "a huge outpouring of blessings from God." Local tax assessors, though, point out that the family faces future property taxes totalling seven times those they previously paid. And some critics note that a) the new house is way too big for its tiny lot; b) the house won't ever be assessed at its true value, because of the modest nature of the neighborhood, and c) if the show's producers were so inclined, they could have built two ~ or even three ~ smaller, but still accommodating houses for the same price, helping out two additional families in need.

My SIL said she could hear Ty and Company hammering way into the night during that sultry summer week. She took oodles of Superior Snaps of the process, from the initial scoping-out that the builders undertook, to the final day, when the family returned from Disney World. I shot the snap above during what my Chicas term a "drive by" ~ anytime Mom (who would be moi) wishes to see something for herself.

Certainly, little Neenah, WI, has enough memories to last a lifetime. The question, however, is this: Was this extreme makeover too extreme?


Lesley said...

From your drive-by snapshot it looks completely out of place next to the other homes. Another "fly in the ointment" would be having to maintain the day to day expenses of such a large house - heat & A/C, general upkeep, etc. Their cost of living just increased tremendously!

It sure is a beautiful home though, and I love the colors.

Vodka Logic said...

Agreed it does look out of place in the neighborhood. The thought they could have helped out 3 families is very disappointing.

I hope they can afford to stay there now..

Cheryl said...

I had 2 separate discussions about EM with family members last week.

We all agree: it's all too extreme. For what they pay to build one monstrosity, they could build 3-6 smaller homes. Living in the NE, I shudder at the costs to heat these albatrosses, let along afford the taxes.

Makes good tear-jerker TV, promotes big builders, and TP's humongous ego. I don't watch. It's just too insane.

Jenn @ Youknow...that Blog? said...

Agreed! They just don't think about the long-term effects on these folks... gorgeous homes though!

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

I thought I had read somewhere that they were going to scale back (because of the economy and the kind of complaints listed here - why get these people in over their heads?)

But apparently not. I love the idea of this show, but there are some things that drive me nuts. Most specifically the over done bedrooms they do for kids in whatever that child said they were "into"... and you know if 3 months they're going to be into something else, and the room is going to be out of date, not to mention NEVER something that will grow with the child.

Susie said...

I think it is too extreme if they can't afford to live in their own house anymore!

Sarah said...

It's sticking out like a sore thumb, if you ask me. The family will struggle to pay the property tax now. Not sure if this will help them or break them.

Christy said...

you know, I stopped watching that show for that reason. I like the fact that the show helps people but I would rather they remodel the house, or at least build something a little more "appropriate" for all concerned. I know there has been more than one family that has had to sell their house later because they simply couldn't afford the massive spike in electricity bills, taxes, etc. I just think there is a better way to do this...and I liked Ty better when he was on that TLC show.

quilly said...

I had a wonderful blogging buddy who hailed from Neenah, WI -- Dr. John. You have made me miss him again.

I hope the family can afford to stay in this home -- taxes, heat, electricity, etc -- and this much space will drastically change the family dynamics. Now they might not see so much of each other, which isn't necessarily a good thing.

dkzody said...

I am so opposed to this program. We had a house rebuilt in Fresno for a woman in a wheelchair. The house is outlandish btu they did get the old loan paid off with contributions so all she has is the property tax. We have so many people with NO home in our city.

Jeanie said...

You nailed it and the answer is yes. They did the same thing here in Lansing (Holt) Michigan. Widowed mom, three kids. They will NEVER be able to handle the taxes and it looks so out of place in the neighborhood. Yes, they could have indeed helped more families.

I have very mixed feelings about that show -- even more after they came here. Something tells me that the helping is more for the ratings and the "show" than for the people. Or "people in general."

Florida Girl Meets the Midwest said...

Gosh, you do have to wonder. Is a super big house really the answer?

carma said...

I'd have to weigh in on the "too big" side; besides who wants to maintain all that space??? I can barely keep up with my much smaller place.

miss jo said...

Thanks for the behind-the-scenes look @ one of my favorite shows...For all the good work Extreme Makeover undertakes, I've often wondered about who pays the taxes afterward. The show should spell that out (sometimes I think they actually pay the property taxes, for awhile.)

Allyson said...

This post has succeeded in tearing me right down the middle. I am so happy for the family, who must have been in a desperate situation for Ty and his crew to show up. Clearly, they have quadrupled their living space and they have probably acquired a new nickname or two (like oh, it's next door to the Tudors). But I can't imagine how that family is going to pay their property taxes or how they will ever sell it (because they aren't out any money on the remodel but the incoming family would never be able to get their money back). I have to confess, I'm a little disappointed in the architects - that they didn't take into account the rest of the neighborhood and try to blend it as well as they could. There was NO effort in blending whatsoever. It's almost as if they have a book of plans that they work from and someone closed their eyes and opened the book and voila! That's the plan they are going to use...before ever showing up on site.

I hate to say this...but I've always thought Ty does this show for the glory and not for the good of helping people. He may be hot, but I think he has an ego the size of Texas so I don't watch. I appreciate the alternate view into Extreme Makeover!


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