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An extreme 38-hour marathon makeover

By Staff | Oct 13, 2008

When David Berndt of Blue Earth learned that the TV show “Extreme Home Makeover” was coming to Albert Lea, he was excited.

Berndt and his wife, Linda, are big fans of the show. When it filmed in Minnetonka a while ago, they went to see the production.

“I thought then it would be neat to be part of the volunteers someday,” Berndt says.

So on Tuesday, Sept. 30 the couple attended the pep rally at Crossroads Church in Albert Lea.

“They wanted 400 volunteers and already had 800 signed up,” Berndt says. “So I gave them my business card and offered my services.”

Berndt worked at Telex for many years, but also is a carpenter and cabinet maker. He is now making custom furniture as his full- time work.

The TV crew and volunteers started work on the new home for the DeVries family of Hayward, near Albert Lea, on Wednesday, Oct. 1.

The Berndts didn’t hear anything back from the show’s producers at first. Then a call came on Friday.

“One of the designers called and asked if I was still willing to help,” Berndt says. “I said yes and met with her later that same day.”

The designer showed him a sketch of some nine-foot tall shelf units they wanted made for the great room of the new home.

The kicker was that they needed them no later than Monday morning. Berndt agreed to do it.

It took him until noon on Saturday to locate all of the wood he would need to build the special shelves.

After a quick lunch, he went into his workshop and spent 38 straight hours constructing the four large units.

“I worked on them from noon on Saturday until 2 a.m. on Monday,” Berndt says. Linda brought him meals once in a while, but he didn’t stop for anything else.

After grabbing five hours of sleep on Monday morning, he and Linda took the units to the house for installation.

“The producers assigned one worker to assist me,” he says. “They wanted three of the units installed by 1:30 p.m. on Monday.”

While he was putting the shelves into place, camera crews came by and filmed him doing it.

“I am not sure if I will be on the show, or be left on the cutting room floor,” he says with a smile.

Berndt says it was amazing to be in the house and see all the volunteers working – all at once.

“It was like ants scurrying all over – building, cleaning, installing things – it was amazing,” he explains.

Linda says all of the workers and crew had great attitudes and never complained about anything.

“They treated us real well,” she says. “There was lots of food for all the workers, from local businesses.”

The next day, Tuesday, the Berndts returned to the house for the filming of the family returning to see their new home.

“It was a mess – it was raining and muddy,” Berndt says. “But that didn’t stop the filming – or the celebrating.”

He says watching the family see the home for the first time was very emotional.

“It made all my effort worthwhile,” Berndt says. “I would do it again in a second.”

The Berndts also had a chance to meet the host of the show, Ty Pennington. They were impressed with his enthusiasm.

“He gets the workers and crowd all pumped up,” Berndt says. “He also does a lot of the work.”

Pennington was not always at the site. The Berndts learned that two homes are being worked on at the same time, and the TV host flies back and forth between the two.

“The excitement level sure goes up when he is on the scene,” they add.

The Berndts have been told the show will probably air sometime in December. The producers say all the workers will get a note informing them of the exact date.

“It will be fun to watch the show,” Berndt says. “It was such a great experience to be part of it.”