Celebrated Fire Fighter, Family Receive New Home

Post a Comment » Written on October 27th, 2009     
Filed under: News
SOUTH RANGE, WI (October 27, 2009) – Life is finally starting to return to normal for Howie and Jessie Huber since the hit television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (EMHE) demolished their small, dilapidated farmhouse and constructed a 2,300-square-foot home in August.

The Hubers, who attend Mission Covenant Church in Poplar, Wisconsin, have learned where most of their items were relocated and are setting about living in an environmentally friendly way again. The number of people driving by – and even some knocking on their door asking for a tour – also has diminished.

Jessie, a nursing student, nominated Howie, a decorated firefighter, last December when she heard the show was going to be in the Duluth area. “I wrote about how much I loved my husband and what a relief it would be to have a new home,” Jessie says. She also told producers she desired a safe home for the couple’s children, six-year-old Henry and four-year-old Rosie.

Old houseAlthough Huber is a firefighter who once pulled a family of four from a burning house, the couple feared he would one day receive a call to his own home, which the couple purchased five years ago with plans to fix it up. The farmhouse had been the only house the couple could afford and they made as many repairs as possible.

But there were significant structural problems: the chimney was separating from the house, the windows were improperly installed, and there was severe water damage throughout. The electrical, heat, and sewage systems were unsafe as well.

EMHE not only constructed a safe home, but also the smallest and greenest home the show has designed. Click here to view the episode that aired. For a video tour of the house, click here.

“We are still trying to figure out the house,” Jessie says. “Now that it is heating season, we are fine tuning the heat pump and in-floor heat. We still need to get our firewood bucked down and start using the wood stove as soon as possible.”

The family is in the process of switching out the normal lightbulbs, which were needed for filming purposes, for energy-efficient bulbs. “The problem is we have 150 of them in this house,” Jessie says.

“We are also waiting for the wind turbine to get fixed,” she adds. “We still have some time before the house is working properly, but (then again) it was built in only four days. Plus I would way rather be working with these jobs instead of our old failing septic system.”

Living in a way that is environmentally friendly is one of the family’s core values, Jessie says. “When Howie and I first started dating, we would daydream about living as self sustaining as possible.”

She adds, “I feel a deep connection to God when I can plant some seeds and later harvest a bounty. Growing our own food gives us a deep appreciation for the food on our table. Saying ‘grace’ at the table is a time to truly be thankful for the hard work and blessings that made it possible.”

New homeAt least one member of the family was not thrilled at first about the idea of getting a new house. When Rosie walked out of the old house and saw all of the volunteers, she declared to them that no one was going to tear down her home.” She’s changed her mind since moving into the new house. Click here to see additional photos.

It had been rumored that several other families were being considered. On the morning the crew showed up at the Hubers’ house, a producer was inside and he told the family that he was waiting for a text message announcing whether they would be getting a new home. Jessie believes the show concocted a story about four other possible recipients in order to disguise their plans.

The Hubers had a hint that they had been chosen. “That morning we kind of knew,” Jessie says. Nobody was driving down the road.”

Before the volunteers and crew arrived, the family had to cover all their windows. They also had to stay inside. But the Hubers weren’t sure until they heard the sound of Ty Pennington’s voice shouting through a bullhorn and calling them outside.

Making the show had its Hollywood touches. Crews spent two days filming the first five minutes of the show. The family had to be sure to wear the same clothes both days.

EMHE sent the Hubers to Hawaii during construction. “It was a whirlwind,” Jessie says.

The family left Duluth at 5 a.m. for a 12-hour flight. When they arrived, they each were given EMHE T-shirts and fitted with microphones, and taping started immediately.

The family wore the microphones and were filmed almost all of the 36 hours they were on the island. “They had their script all planned out and we were parts of the puzzle,” Jessie says, though not complaining. The family then flew back 12 hours before arriving in South Range to yell, “Move that bus!”

The crew had not just built a home for the family. They also built one for the family’s chickens. “The new coop is pretty cool,” Jessie says. “I love that they used our old bedroom door for the front door.”

The Hubers have been attending Mission Covenant for less than a year, but Jessie, who helps with children’s ministry, says the family has found a spiritual home. “I just love the way that they are family and community focused,” she says.

Jessie says that the entire experience has increased her appreciation for the community. “It’s amazing, very humbling and just incredible,” she said on the day they received the home. “These are friends for life; these are people that we will be connected to forever.”

Editor’s note: The two close-up photos of Jessie and Rosie as well as the family outside their new home are used courtesy of Jed Carlson and the Superior Telegram.

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