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Weather doesn't chill workers' enthusiasm

POPULAR COMMUNITY - Neither bone-chilling wind gusts nor frigid temperatures Monday could keep spectators away or hamper work on Renee Wilson's house.

Roofers, painters and other volunteers continued to labor around the clock on the five-bedroom house in this rural neighborhood off S.C. 90 northwest of Myrtle Beach.

The house, a gift to the Wilson family from "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," quickly emerged as a gray, vinyl-sided, multigabled, single-story dwelling featuring a second-story bonus room above the attached garage.

"Inside, the plumbing, electrical and insulation has been done," said Clinch Heyward, a partner in Hall Custom Homes, who with Classic Home Builders & Design are donating construction and coordinating the subcontractors. "The drywall has been hung. That happened overnight [Monday]."

Progress on Monday didn't come without some minor glitches related to the weather, such as frozen nail guns and compressors, and wind that made the siding installation tricky.

"When the air guns freeze up, you don't get the production you would in normal conditions," said Henry Hilburn, owner of H&M Vinyl Specialists of Myrtle Beach, who had about 50 workers dedicated to the project. "Working in this weather is horrible, but they're not complaining. They've just been so hyped up. We just feel very honored. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Charlie Ashby with H&M Vinyl Specialists had worked overnight. He sought warmth around a couple of portable heaters that had been provided to the laborers whenever he could.

"It feels good to be out here," Ashby said. "We're getting a lot done."

Workers weren't the only ones huddled around portable heaters during breaks. A throng of spectators, most bundled up in scarves, hats and gloves, braved Monday's temperatures to watch the builders and gravitated toward heaters set up in the viewing area.

"This is Christianity in action," said Nancy Whitman, a snowbird from Doylestown, Ohio, who with her husband, Tom, carved out some time to watch how one of their favorite TV shows is produced.

"It's unbelievable to be here," Tom Whitman said. "We're coming back for the big reveal [on Thursday]."

During the big reveal, Renee Wilson and her four grandchildren - Hakeem, 10; Timothy, 8; R.J., 7; and Erica, 5 - will see their new home for the first time. The family is vacationing at Walt Disney World, another treat from "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," until their house is ready. The Wilsons were deemed deserving by the show's producers, who reward a family experiencing hard times with a free house built by volunteers with donated materials. Wilson, a school cafeteria worker, took in her four grandchildren nearly three years ago after their mother abandoned them. Wilson did not want the children landing in foster care.

The home's interior and how the children's rooms are designed will be kept a secret until the show airs on TV. It's scheduled to air on ABC on March 25.

Carla Schuchman, a specialist in faux finishes with Homeworks Artistry Inc. of Pawleys Island, has been working with the show's designers on the home's interior and children's rooms.

Forbidden by the show to reveal details, Schuchman would only say the designers have some "pretty unique things" planned for the home.

"They're putting finishes on floors, ceilings, and we're getting ready to do furniture pieces," Schuchman said. "There will be murals. They're going to love this stuff."

Interacting with the show's stars has been exciting, said Schuchman and Bunny Nibert with Chuck's Painting of Georgetown. The show's host, Ty Pennington, joined the painters at one point and joked around with them.

"He came up behind me when I was painting and got a paintbrush and started painting with us," Nibert said. "He cut up a lot with us. He's such a hoot. We've had a lot of fun."

The cold hasn't been a real problem for the painters. They've managed to warm up the paint using heaters.

"It hasn't affected us," Nibert said. "We do extreme things all the time."

Work on the house continues today.

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