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Oakland family chosen to receive "Extreme Makeover"

The bus with Ty Pennington on board leads volunteers from Builders Commonwealth down a foggy Swamp Road in Oakland to the home of Howard and Jessica Huber before they filmed the opening segment of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on Monday morning. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

A small home on a patch of land in Northern Wisconsin's Oakland Township is set to be transformed by the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" team this week.

Representatives from the show were seen knocking on the family's door and filming as of 9:45 a.m. today, when a cheer rose up that could be heard half a mile away.

Howard and Jessica Huber, who have lived at the property on Swamp Road for five years, were chosen from among five finalists for the project.

A large tour bus, followed by tractors and construction equipment pulled onto Swamp Road in South Range about 17 miles south of Superior this morning and traveled to the house, where they joined show host Ty Pennington in greeting the family.

Howard Huber, a firefighter of four years with the Superior Fire Department, said his wife, Jessica, had submitted the original application to the show.

The couple bought a dilapidated farmhouse hoping to fix it up in a few years, according to a press release from Builders Commonwealth, the Duluth-based company spearheading the project. Although they were struggling financially, Jessica, a nursing student, encouraged Howie to pursue his lifelong dream of being a firefighter. Through long hours of hard work and as many as five jobs between them, the Hubers were able to both pay off their debt and see Howie established as a popular, decorated firefighter.

The couple has done everything they could to repair the old farmhouse, but found it is beyond their ability. The two-story farmhouse has a chimney separating from the house, improperly installed windows and severe water damage throughout. The electrical, heat and sewage systems are unsafe. And the Hubers worry for the safety of their two young children, Henry, 6, and Rosie, 3.

"We have a million-dollar view; too bad our house isn't as nice," Huber said a couple weeks before learning his home would be transformed.

Producers paid a number of visits to the Hubers' property in the weeks running up to the announcement, and recruited hundreds of volunteers from the Duluth-Superior area to help Builders Commonwealth construct a new 2,300-square-foot home on the Hubers' land in about 100 hours this week.

The suspense of the past week has been hard on the family, according to Mark Olson, Jessica's father.

"To call it nerve-wracking would be an understatement," he said.

Olson said his daughter's family lives on a rural road that typically sees little traffic. "Maybe a couple of cars a day," he said.

But the past several days have been different.

"There's a constant stream of cars going by real slow," Olson said.

Today, media and spectators stood on County Highway V as a parade of vehicles and volunteers walked up to the Hubers' home to give them a heartfelt "good morning." The family will go on vacation to the Disney Vacation club in Hawaii while the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" team and local volunteers transform their home. The design team for this episode will feature team leader Ty Pennington and designers Paige Hemmis, Paul Dimeo and Eduardo Xol.

The construction site at 5742 S. Swamp Road is scheduled to be open to spectators on Wednesday. Food and blood drives will take place on site, as well.

Telegram reporter Maria Lockwood contributed to this report.

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