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ABC-TV's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, film crew records as volunteers build a home Saturday, Aug, 22, 2009, for the Montgomery family in Philo. (The Pantagraph/CARLOS T. MIRANDA)

PHILO -- Around-the-clock work is paying off at the Philo site of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

About 2,500 Central Illinoisans have signed up to help in the week-long endeavor as Bloomington-based Brady Homes and the ABC reality program create a new house for the Nathan Montgomery family.

"It's a barn-raising of the 21st century," said Ed Brady, co-owner of Bloomington's Brady Homes.

"I think its' all the organization that makes it so exciting," said volunteer Jack Glascock, of Normal. "Everything that's done in phases (in construction); Here it's done all at once," said Glascock, an Illinois State University communication professor who helped carry sheets of drywall Saturday.

The whirlwind production kicked off Tuesday, when the show's star Ty Pennington told the Montgomerys they'd been selected. On Thursday, the family was sent on a Disney World vacation. Crews then demolished their dilapidated, century-old home.

Next Tuesday, they'll return to a new $350,000 home.

They'll also get news that "Extreme Makeover" threw in a bonus renovation of Salt & Light, a nonprofit food pantry Nathan Montgomery operates in Champaign, said Brady.

"People really want to give. They open their hearts and their pocketbooks," said Brady. While all crew time and materials have been donated, Brady said organizers still hope to raise $20,000 to cover some additional costs.

Completing the work in one week depends on experienced volunteers, the ABC staff's well-tuned plan, and a hyper sense of organization, said Randy Timm, of Normal, Brady Homes sales manager who serves as dayshift project manager for the Philo site.

Nearly 100 building professionals donated time Saturday morning -- putting up exterior siding, installing drywall within, and excavating muddy earth outside for geothermal wells. Hundreds more volunteers assisted-- carrying paint cans, carrying sheets of drywall, and more.

Michelle Goluba-Melrose of Bloomington arrived at 6 a.m., and helped serve other volunteers food.

The Bloomington High School teacher got to see work inside the home, bringing tradesmen snacks and water. "I mostly tried to stay out of their way," she said.

Watching "Extreme" on TV, viewers get a condensed version of what takes place: Both in spatial view and time spent working. But, spectators and volunteers gathered at the 24/7 Philo operation find a more widespread version.

Temporary fencing sets off the home, as well as its surrounding rural neighborhood. Fenced-off areas separate parking areas, production crews, volunteers waiting for assignments and spectators.

"When you watch it on TV, it goes so fast," said Casie Cleary of nearby Tolono. She and her husband Kyle Cleary visited late Wednesday night to see the old home. They returned Saturday to check progess.

"It's amazing," she said. "We're going to come back Tuesday. Even if I'm at the back of the crowd, I'm going to yell 'Move that bus,'" she said, referring to the show's tagline for when the family gets to see the finished work.

Brady said some people from Bloomington were surprised the site was in Philo, given it's more than an hour from the Twin Cities. But Brady Homes also constructs in Springfield, Bourbonnais and Champaign, he said. Philo is about 10 miles outside of Champaign.

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" airs at 7 p.m. Sundays on ABC. The Philo show airs in November, said Brady.

Spectators can view construction from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday; as well as Tuesday morning before the family arrives at 1 p.m. Spectators must park at Willard Airport, south of Savoy, and catch a shuttle bus to the site.

Meanwhile, fundraisers are under way to help pay off about $40,000 owed on the old house. Any additional money would be set aside for future expenses like property taxes.

Fun Facts about the Montgomerys

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" experience:

-- All of the family's cloth goods, including bedding, clothing, etc, were sent to the Certified Restoration Drycleaning Network to be cleaned before being placed in storage with the rest of the family's belongings.

-- The new house is being built for certification to National Green Building standards. It will have a geothermal heat pump, which uses less fossil fuel to heat and cool the house; an advanced framing technique that means less framing wood is used; Energy Star-rated appliances; low-flow dishwasher, faucet and other plumbing fixtures; drought-resistant landscaping; and be void of wall-to-wall carpet to lessen the chance of trapping dust and allergens.

-- The Nathan Montgomery family was contacted about five months ago after someone else nominated the family for a home makeover. They had to fill out extensive paperwork and undergo a background check, according to John Montgomery, Nathan Montgomery's brother.

-- Volunteers do a variety of jobs - not all glamorous - including parking cars, collecting trash, taking water to workers, acting as security guards at the site, and in food service.

-- It took 5 minutes and 33 seconds to raze the old Montgomery home. Workers have 106 hours to build the new house.

-- By Friday morning, about 18 hours after demolition, crews had already finished the foundation and the first floor and were starting to frame walls. Work was ahead of schedule.

-- Ty Pennington, host of the ABC television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is working on two projects at once and flying back and forth between them.

-- Numerous Twin City and Pantagraph area businesses have contributed to the project. For a list, visit and click on "partners."


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