Ty Pennington and his gang from "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" pounced on the Friday family of Lincolnton while they were shopping at a Christmas tree farm on Sunday.
Congratulations, they were told. In a week, you'll have a new house, compliments of the ABC network show and volunteer donations from the community.
Devona Friday and her husband, James, have served as foster parents to more than 30 children over the years. When she formerly worked as a police officer, she saw the effects of child abuse and wanted to become a foster parent to provide stable situations for kids in need, she said Sunday.
In May 2010, a teenager named Chris was placed with the Fridays and their three children. On his first night, Chris showed the Fridays a video of his four brothers and sisters, separated in the foster-care system. He asked whether the Fridays would consider taking them in, too, so they could live as a family again.
"There was never a question we'd take in the whole sibling group," said James Friday, 39, an inspector for a fiber optic company. "We made Chris that promise."
But authorities said the Fridays' three-bedroom ranch home at 105 Moore St., which they bought in 2005, was too small for all of them. So they sold their van to help with expenses and renovated their carport to put in two additional bedrooms. In April 2011, they got approval to adopt all five of the children.
"We've sacrificed a great deal, but because of God we've never been in need," James Friday said.
Nominated for show
Someone unknown to the Fridays nominated them for the show and they were interviewed by producers. In recent weeks, they had been told that location scouts would be checking out their property at certain times and they could not be home then.
Neighbors were told someone nearby might be featured on the program and to expect a week's worth of disruption.
Colby Setzer, 27, bought the house across the street last Monday and moved in with his wife and two young children. Then they learned their home was going to be the set for a TV show. On his lawn, right outside his bedroom window, is a tent that will serve as Pennington's woodworking shop.
He was told to brace for power tools whining at all hours - they intend to work around the clock until the new house is done. If it got too annoying, Setzer was told, the production company would put his family up in a nearby motel.
"We're going to try to stay and wing it out," he said.
By midday Sunday, production trailers and construction equipment clogged the neighborhood, power generators growled and the signature "Makeover" bus was being taped pulling up with the family.
Sunday night, the family departed to Jamaica, where they will stay in a resort until they return and get to see their new home on Saturday.
Frank Hereda and Wade Miller, co-owners of Bellamy Homes and the lead contractors on the project, said the new two-story home will have eight bedrooms and about 4,000 feet of heated space, more than double the existing home.
Still, they said it should fit with the scale of the neighborhood, mostly brick ranch homes built in the 1990s on large wooded lots on the edge of Lincolnton.
While they did not file demolition or building permits in advance, inspectors have reviewed the plans and given approval, he said.
When the old house is knocked down this morning, Miller said, they hope to save materials like bricks that can be recycled into new projects.
They said they hope to finish the project late Thursday or Friday. "Extreme Makeover's" move-that-bus ceremony will be held Saturday, no matter what.
It will be a year until the program will be seen, airing as the series' two-hour Christmas special in 2012.