Leading up to ‘Move that bus’

Christina Gibbs with designer Ty Pennington.

By Marcie Klomp

The television show ”Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” puts new meaning to the phrase house-raising bee. In one week, a dilapidated home was torn down at West Union and a new one built for one deserving family.

On October 2, Audrey Gibbs and her children were officially chosen as the next family to get a home makeover. The Dan and Christina Gibbs family (no relation) of Lime Springs were part of the transformation.

They had an “in” as Dan works at Geothermal EcoOptions of Cresco, one of the many companies working on the new home.

They learned the show really is a television show. Work was done, but so was filming and refilming and all the hoopla that goes with a production this large.

As part of the story line, certain stereotypes were used. Christina, who volunteered at the set several days, said, “They made Iowa out to be full of hicks.” She said there were hay bales and farm animals used as props for many scenes.

Building a brand new house started that evening. Dan said some coworkers “bored a loop field in which his company provided three loops and West Union Trenching bored three loops. He was there Monday through Wednesday. On Monday, he had a two-hour job but had to be there early and on call for when they needed him to stub out the piping installed by Geo Inc. before the cement was laid.

Monday was also the day the house came down using a John Deere tractor (stereotyping again). But it worked and the slab and footings were poured.

Christina said by Tuesday morning, the cement was dry. “They call it cement on steroids!”

Volunteers and contractors worked 24-hours a day. Christina was one of the 40 volunteers to take over one eight-hour shift. She was to help shoot scene clips (“which they would shoot over and over and over again”), pass around water, clean up trash, etc. She also spent some time chatting with others, including Audrey’s sister, who also lives in West Union. She was told the family was sent on a trip to Florida while the house was being built.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The family was chosen because Audrey’s husband had died in August 2000, and seven months later she had a medical condition similar to a brain aneurism that left her partially blind. Audrey has six children.

“She said the family had no running toilet, and Audrey had to find rides to work because she is legally blind. [The sister] was hoping they’d set up a massage therapist area in her house.”

Dan was on the job at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday. All of the loop digging (hhok-up) was provided by Geo Inc.

On Wednesday, the piping completed to the units was provided by Dan’s company.

His crew only worked during the day, but some contractors worked at night. Those included electrical, carpenters, dry wallers and plumbers.

Christina showed up at the job site at 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday. She found the house partially finished. “We talked to the carpenter who said there were 100 or more hours put in the weeks before building walls so they were just set up.”

Dan was impressed with the organization of building the house. “It was wild to see how everyone came together. There were competing contractors working together to do the same job. It was pretty cool.”

One day, some volunteers had to carry the designer into a room in a canoe. Christina revealed one person said it was very tiring since it took about 40 takes before they called it good.

After the experience, Dan commented, “It’s a lot different from when you watch the show. It’s a TV show, so a lot of it is set up and it took a lot to cut and paste each segment.”

The family, along with many from Dan’s work, returned to the set/home for the big reveal on Sunday. They were part of a large group of people who were there for the reveal. Christina recalled how the crowd was supposed to whoop and holler for the camera for several takes. “They’d talk to the crowd and make us cheer and practice. They brought in the limo without the family and we were to cheer, and told us the next time it would be the family.” She said the one used on the show would probably be one of the practice ones.

After the big “Move That Bus” shot, where the family sees their new home for the first time, the crowd was told there would probably be up to six hours of taping inside the house with the family, so many left.

The Lime Springs Gibbs family stuck around when the crowd was told a special guest was coming. When the famous person showed up, they were not to make too much noise, since the family would be in the house and they wanted it to be a surprise. Well, it certainly was a surprise when Bret Michaels of the group Poison showed up with his tour bus! For the show, he rode a motorcycle into the garage.

The garage is shaped like a barn with an attached silo (stereotyping again). Christina commented the sister had mentioned she wasn’t sure how Audrey would like it since she wasn’t into “country” decor even though she lives on a farm. It will probably be okay since they got it for free!

Everyone working on the project donated time and product for the Gibbs family. According to Brian Stockman co-owner of Geothermal EcoOptions, the company donated many hours and equipment. Their vendors, Cedar Rapids Winpump, Ditchwitch of Des Moines and Baroid Products of Houston, Texas, donated the material.

Stockman said, “The Gibbs family should see a 30-70 percent savings per month in their heating and cooling with the geothermal unit.”

Campsite RV of Cresco donated campers for the use of the filming crew.

Dan said it was a great experience and he felt the Hollywood folks appreciated the Iowa folks. “They might tell everyone this, but they did tell us that people in Iowa really work hard and are the best they’ve been around. It was a great compliment.”

No date for the airing of the show has been set. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” airs Fridays from 7 to 8 p.m. Central Standard Time on ABC.

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