What It Was Like To Work On The OG Extreme Makeover: Home Edition For Kim Lewis

In the early aughts, ABC and host Ty Pennington captured millions of viewers' attention with "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." The show followed a group of volunteers — led by ABC's behind-the-scenes team — as they fixed up and overhauled a fellow community member's home completely unbeknownst to the owners. Each show often had an emotional element as the recipient of the home makeover usually faced hardship or had given back to their community in a major way. It had all the makings of a great reality show: a gut-wrenching story that concludes with a feel-good ending.

As you can imagine, things could get pretty intense, as over 200 homes were built throughout a decade of the show. Kim Lewis, lead "Extreme Makeover" designer, told House Beautiful, "My job was to make sure the house remained personally designed for that family while maintaining the crazy requests of the producers because, after all, it was a television show and they wanted to make sure they were gonna have their ratings, that things were gonna be crazy enough for people to tune in."

And as if a deadline of seven days wasn't crazy enough, Lewis divulged that most homes were actually completed in five days. She said that the crew's hotel room on location rarely got used, "I can't even tell you how many times I would just like plop over and take a 20-minute power nap with a ream of copy paper as my pillow."

Why did the crew stick with it?

Even though Kim Lewis frequently found herself requesting more time to complete her job, either in the lead-up to the build or during, she admitted that it was all worth it in the end. Completing projects in such a short period and seeing the gratitude the family and their community expressed made "Extreme Makeover" very rewarding for Lewis, who stuck with the program for six years before diving into her own firm in Austin, Texas.

"A lot of time, we were building something for a family that had medical needs or a veteran, so we always made it really personal," Kim Lewis recalled to House Beautiful. She gushed that the local community understood this and pitched in to make a difference. When things fell through, often with vendors, neighbors would step in to make the dream a reality. She continued, "Everywhere I would go, I would throw myself into that city and get to know everyone I possibly could. That network is how these projects were pulled off."

While Lewis' sentiments are kind, they're probably not the whole story.

How many people did it take to make the homes happen?

According to the Chicago Tribune, up to 750 workers and contractors could be involved in a single show episode. In one of its earliest airings in Kansas City, hundreds of workers donated their money, time, and knowledge to assist in the project. Companies came together to pull off parts of the construction in record time. Reportedly, the entire home was framed in just twelve hours under the scrutiny of 24/7 inspectors who helped ensure the fast work wasn't shoddy.

Still, only so much care can go into constructing a home in such a tight timeline. Unfortunately, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" wasn't without its fair share of scandals, one being that the houses had structural and functional issues due to the lack of allotted time, reported Builder.

Ultimately, the controversial series disappeared from the network in 2012, only to briefly find a new home with HGTV. Familiar faces like Kim Lewis have since moved on, but recently we've heard rumors that ABC is trying to revive it. Hopefully, the OG show will come back bigger and better than ever.