Local builders go extreme
September 6, 2007 <br /><br /><b>By LEE J. KAHRS</b><br /><br />BRANDON –– Nothing like a little pressure for a good cause.<br /><br />Brandon building contractor The McKernon Group this weekend not only will build a dream home for a needy family in all of four days, but viewers nationwide will be able to watch the house come together in a future airing of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” television show.<br /><br />Starting Friday, the company will have four days to construct a brand-new home from the foundation to the roof for the Vitale family in the Windham County town of Athens.<br /><br />“This family has gone through a lot and they deserve a new home,” McKernon Group President Jack McKernon said at a press conference on Wednesday. “We are thrilled to be able to help them.”<br /><br />Lou and Sara Vitale have been living in a run-down hunting camp for the past five years. They have two children, Kane, 3, and Louie Jr., 2, who was born with several birth defects. He suffers from arthrogryposis, a contraction of the joints, club feet, and skeletal dysplasia, or dwarfism. <br /><br />Louie Jr. is confined to a wheelchair and is on both a feeding tube and a breathing tube.<br /><br />“The camp has a lot of problems,” said McKernon Director of Business Development Bill McGrath. “It has everything from a leaky roof to a crumbling foundation. The family is in dire need of a new house.”<br /><br />Now in it’s fifth season, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” receives more than 5,000 requests a week from people sponsoring families who need a new house. In the case of the Vitale family, local town officials in Athens applied in secret on the family’s behalf. <br /><br />Ordinarily, a home-building project like this one takes at least five months to complete. McKernon plans to do the job in 106 hours with round-the-clock work by two groups of 175 laborers who will take turns at 12-hour shifts. The McKernon Group will get significant assistance on the project from r.k. Miles, BuildBlock, Casella Waste Management, Irving Oil, and RMG Stone.<br /><br />ABC chose The McKernon Group for the show after being recommended by the Vermont Homebuilders and Remodelers Association of Southern Vermont.<br /><br />The company also has a reputation for “green building,” with efficient use of building products, land, and alternative sources of energy, including recycling materials.<br /><br />The Vitale house is the first to use “green building” techniques to be featured on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” It will feature solar power and an insulated concrete foundation to save on heating costs, as well Vermont-grown lumber, energy-efficient windows, and low-flow toilets, sinks and showers.