Friday, Nov. 5, 2004 | 9:20 a.m.
Volunteers who rebuilt the home of a North Las Vegas family for ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" say the family's look of surprise and gratification was payment enough for the builders' time and effort.
Patricia Broadbent, who is battling lung cancer and raising three adopted AIDS-afflicted daughters, came home Wednesday to find that in less than a week construction crews razed her 41-year-old, decaying, one-story, three-bedroom home and built in its place a two-story, five-bedroom luxury house.
The producers of the show, which airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on KTNV Channel 13, had sent the Broadbents on a four-day vacation to Jamaica while they demolished the 1,300-square-foot cinder block home on the 3100 block of Webster Circle.
The new home is a modern, towering, 3,200-square-foot structure with a rock-veneer frontage, state-of-the-art air purification system to address the family's health issues, and an in-ground propane-heated swimming pool in the backyard.
"I'm glad (the show's producers) had an ambulance standing by because I thought my mother would have a heart attack when she saw the beautiful home they built for her," said Patricia's oldest daughter, Kalani, 34, who lives a short distance from her mom and adopted sisters in North Las Vegas.
"My mother did not contact the show to ask for a home to be built for her -- a friend did," Kalani said. "My mother would not ask for anything for herself because her thing is helping others. She looks upon this as a blessing because now she is able to provided for her children a healthy, clean home."
The show's producers said the episode featuring the Broadbents will air in about six to eight weeks.
According to Clark County Assessor's records, Broadbent's old three-bedroom house had a total appraised value, including land, of $62,860 -- a far cry from what its new appraisal undoubtedly will be.
Asked how her mom, who is on a fixed income and can no longer work because of her illness, would be able to pay the taxes from the much higher assessed value, Kalani said her mother has always made ends meet when it seemed impossible.
"We will do as we have always done -- stick together as a family and find a way," Kalani said, noting that agreements were made in advance of the project that addressed some of the tax issues. But she did not elaborate.
Many in the crowd at the welcome-home ceremony Wednesday said they felt it was an honor being asked to donate what they could to the project.
"I love the show and was real excited when I got a call asking to donate pieces from our store (Cultural Dimensions)," said Las Vegas artist Simone Fennell, who created an original artwork, "Spirit of Light," for the home.
Fennell's sculpture depicts seven beams of light, which, she said, "symbolize a mother watching over her six children."
In addition to her three adopted children, Broadbent, a former Boys Club worker and a longtime leading advocate in the care and nurturing of AIDS-afflicted babies in Clark County, has three natural children who, like Kalani, are adults and live on their own.
"She (Broadbent) has long given unselfishly of herself to the community," said Fennell, who will have a show featuring some of her other work from Jan. 25 to March 13 at the Rainbow Library on 3150 N. Buffalo Dr. "She is a really inspiring person."
Karen Robertson, 59, a native Las Vegan, who is well-aware of Broadbent's accomplishments, said the show's producers made an excellent choice.
"The whole family is so deserving," said Robertson, whose son Michael works for Titan Stairs, which built the staircase in the home. "My son was so honored when he was asked to be a part of this show."
Nextdoor neighbor Adrian Castillo, who has known Broadbent 15 years, said he has been impressed by how diligently she has cared for her adopted children.
"She makes sure the children get the proper medical attention and is always on them about taking their medications," said Castillo, a heavy equipment operator "She has made a great impact on their lives and is so deserving of this."
Castillo, like Broadbent's other neighbors, was given free front-yard desert landscaping by the show to compensate for the inconveniences caused by round-the-clock construction.
Jim Alexander, owner of Renaissance Pools and Spas Inc., said the show's producers gave his workers about two days to build the pool in the Broadbents' backyard -- a project that under normal circumstances would take between one and four months to build, he said.
Alexander said he had to pull in all of his crews to build the 14-foot-by-30-foot, free-form, lagoon-style pool that includes a minicave over a 10-foot spa and a misting system to simulate fog.
"The problems that Mrs. Broadbent has overcome have been so overwhelming, and that made it so much more rewarding for us to give something back by building her this pool and spa," Alexander said, estimating its retail value at $40,000. "I'm grateful I haven't had the problems she has faced."
The home builders had their own logistical problems to overcome.
Daniel Bartlett is chief engineer for Wright Engineers, which designed the new home. He said the biggest challenges were bringing in underground power lines to a place where the other homes on the street get their electricity from overhead power lines, and to bring gas to an area where there are no natural gas lines.
"We put a propane tank underground in the front yard," Bartlett said. "The balanced power will help the family save money. Otherwise everything would have been electric and that would have resulted in much higher utility bills."
Also, he said, the construction crew replaced four feet of soil under the home to prevent problems from pockets of clay that could cause subsidence, a condition that buckles and cracks streets, driveways and even foundations.
Just prior to the Broadbents' arrival home Wednesday, one of the show's stars, Michael Moloney, used a megaphone to address the construction crew of more than 100 men and women, many of whom were still wearing hard hats and had just finished making final touches to the home.
"This is by far the most beautiful house we have ever done," he told them.
After arriving home in a stretch limousine, Broadbent was noticeably taken aback by the huge crowd of neighbors and scores of volunteers cheering for her. She covered her wide-open mouth with a hand while daughters Hydeia, 20, Shania, 16, and Patricia, 12, jumped up and down and waived to the spectators.
Patricia hugged her children as the show's team leader, and host Ty Pennington greeted her. Blocking her view of the house was a huge van in which scenes are shot, including the opening of each episode where the cast views an often heart-wrenching videotape of a family in need while en route to their home.
When the van was moved like a curtain to reveal to the family their new home, their eyes widened with anticipation and excitement.
Constance Ramos, one of the show's stars who does much of the architectural design work, said watching the expressions on the faces of the families as they see their new homes provides her great satisfaction.
"This is not a job, but rather a mission," said Ramos, the daughter of an architect who earned a bachelor's degree in architecture from Kansas State University. "It is a labor of love to complete these homes."
Because of the Broadbents' health issues, Ramos said the main concern was not only in creating a visually aesthetic home but also one that is environmentally clean and sound. That, she said, included the installation of easy-cleaning counters and an air-purification system that removes dust and other allergens.
Such attention to detail has helped make "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" a success. During its inaugural season last year the program was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding reality show.
Ramos said the show tugs at viewers' heartstrings because the families that are chosen not only are deserving, but also could never afford to refurbish their homes to the extent Extreme Makeover goes.
"Yes we rebuild the homes, but the show is really about the families," Ramos said. "Viewers see the families, learn their story and watch how we work as a family to make their lives better.
"The show also gives people a feeling there is a hopeful situation in America's building industry."