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Duluth contractor tapped for 'Extreme Makeover' TV show

Workers with Builders Commonwealth build a roof in this 2003 project. The contractor has been tapped by the ABC television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" to rebuild a home for a needy family in the Northland. (2003 Duluth News Tribune file photo)

DULUTH - A hit national television show has asked a Duluth contractor to build a new home for a deserving area family -- and to do it for free.

Builders Common-wealth announced Monday that it was selected for the job by "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," a popular ABC program that picks out families in need and organizes community efforts to replace their homes.

Five families were considered but the program isn't saying who has been selected. Whoever it is, about 50 affiliated subcontractors and hundreds of volunteers will join forces with Builders Commonwealth to build the family a new home.

"No one is getting paid to be a part of this," said Arno Kahn, construction manager and founder of the Duluth building and designing cooperative. He said contractors and suppliers are being asked to donate time and materials for the project.

It will be the first "Extreme Makeover" project in the Twin Ports.

Builders Commonwealth's mission will be to move the family out of their home, tear it apart and rebuild it to better meet their needs -- all within 10 days.

Allowing time for the family to move and for demolition, Kahn said crews probably will have little more than four days to reconstruct an essentially new home. To accomplish the task, workers will need to work around the clock.

"This is a huge load to carry, but almost everyone we've asked to help has said yes," Kahn said.

"The outpouring of generosity in this process has been unbelievable," said Thad Whitesel, president of Builders Commonwealth.

All this at a time when builders aren't as busy as they'd like to be.

"The upside is that we have some time to spare," Kahn said.

Don Mitchell is one of the contractors who have volunteered their services. As most of his clients are well-heeled, Mitchell said he welcomes the opportunity to help out a less fortunate family.

"I'm excited to see how it goes," he said.

During a few weeks of production, ABC expects to pour more than $1 million into the local economy, Kahn said.

Whitesel said the group will need to assemble "an army of volunteers" in order to pull off the project.

While all the construction, plumbing, electrical and mechanical work will be performed by skilled tradespeople, the production is seeking about 300 volunteers daily to help with food, general labor, security and a multitude of other tasks.

People interested in helping or donating to the effort are asked to go to