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The seven-day modular construction of a log home that will serve as a transitional residence and resource center in Fayetteville, N.C., for homeless and disabled women veterans and their families will be featured in the two-hour season premier of the ABC television series "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
The episode — featuring Michele Obama at work on the building site — will air at 7:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Sept. 25.
The home, donated by NAHB Building Systems Councils member and builder Chip Smith of Blue Ridge Log Cabins of Campobello, S.C., was built for the Steps-N-Stages Jubilee House, a non-profit agency created by 15-year Navy veteran Barbara Marshall.
The agency provides transitional and permanent housing, mentoring, life coaching, job search assistance, peer counseling and other support services for veterans who have nowhere else to turn.
The Jubilee House, which was assembled from 13 units, was completed in 106 hours by more than 4,000 volunteers working 24 hours a day during the hottest week of the summer in North Carolina.
During the build, the heat index rose to more than 100 degrees every day of the entire week.
In addition to helping with the construction, volunteers also served the team food, provided security and delivered materials.
Local companies and individuals donated supplies, materials and funds to help complete the house.
The completed structure will house several families and serve as a resource hub for more than 30 homeless women veterans.
“It doesn’t need to be said that we are experiencing a difficult time in the home building industry,” said Smith. “But the way that people and companies stepped up to donate supplies and time when they’re just trying to keep their doors open was a real testament to the importance of this project and the charitable nature of people in our industry.”
The home was built using solid white pine dovetail logs with stone accents. The natural aesthetic of the project also extended to the home’s landscaping and its garden and greenhouse, which enable the residents to grow vegetables and plants, encouraging the healthy living that is paramount to their transition.
While the show’s producers have discouraged the release of specific details about the home and its configuration until the show airs, Smith hinted that many of the rooms were built with computer work stations to help residents improve their vocational skills.
The home also has a health and wellness room where the women can receive physical and psychological services that assist in their overall transition from military to civilian life.
Making a Connection, Filling a Need
Smith first met the producers of the popular TV show in 2004 while he was attending a log home trade show in Atlanta. They briefly discussed the possibility of doing a project together, but the producers had no plans for a show in Smith’s area at that time.
Their paths crossed again during the 2011 NAHB International Builders’ Show, and this time the connection was more definitive.
In April the show contacted Smith’s company about building the Jubilee House in July.
In the months leading up to the groundbreaking, three of the show’s interior designers worked with the engineering staff from Blue Ridge Log Cabins to design the house.
One of the reasons the producers chose Blue Ridge Log Cabins was because the company uses both log and modular construction building systems — the first time that combination would be used on the show.
Smith is proud of Blue Ridge’s state-of-the-art facility, which builds homes using 6x8, 8x8 or 6x12 logs, depending on the home buyer’s preference. The facility was designed after Smith and his plant manager visited nearly a dozen modular plants to study the best practices and features that they would incorporate in their plant.
The plant will be included in the upcoming episode because John Littlefield, one of the celebrity designers on "Extreme Makeover," and a film crew took video of the factory and the technology involved in engineering and producing these cutting-edge homes.
The First Lady Pitches In
First Lady Michelle Obama joined the crew to help build the shelter as part of Joining Forces, a comprehensive national initiative she began with Jill Biden, the wife of the Vice President, to mobilize all sectors of society to give service members and their families the support and opportunities they earned while serving in the military.
“She was very gracious and genuine and wants to champion the cause that those who have served our country should never be homeless,” Smith said.
“We were excited and honored to help with this project,” said Smith. “Even with the tight schedule, the heat and everything that needed to come together to make this project work, I would do it all over again. It was such a rewarding experience for everyone involved.”
The First Lady said that she hoped that the project would serve as an inspiration to other companies and volunteers throughout the country to step up to help the nation’s veterans and their families.