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Tampa homebuilder takes on "Extreme Makeover" challenge

Scott Shimberg's family has been building homes in the bay area for 53 years. We're long overdue, he says, for a radical change to help not just his company but the entire recession-wracked home building industry.

Why not custom-build 80 percent of a house off-site in a controlled environment and then transport it? No weather delays or vandalism threats. No roof trusses damaged by Florida's potent subtropical mix of sun and rain before they can be installed.

The off-site process is not only up to 30 percent cheaper but shortens the standard home building process from 12 to 14 months down to 90 to 120 days. "It's a revolutionary process," Shimberg says, "yet gets to the same end point."

This weekend, Shimberg will find out if a national audience agrees with him in the unveiling of one high-profile, expedited project.

Scott Shimberg Homes was part of a team of home builders that constructed — largely off-site — a 3,600-square-foot home for a struggling Georgia family, in the season finale of the ABC show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Extreme Makeover's Ty Pennington and his crew finalized the speed-build of a customized home for the Williams family of Pine Mountain Valley, Ga. Jeremy Williams was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, and his son, Jacob, was born with spina bifida.

The show airs Sunday.

As he debated where to hold a viewing party, Shimberg talked Friday with the St. Petersburg Times about the experience.

How did you get involved with Extreme Makeover?

We got involved through Nationwide Custom Homes, a company we have formed a partnership with on the off-site construction process.

Can you walk through the process?

Houses that come to the Tampa area are built out of a plant in Araby, Ga. All the homes are delivered on-site through a custom trailer system specifically designed to transport the units on the highway.

In this case (with Extreme Makeover) the home was built in Martinsville, Va. It was about a three-week process from start to finish. … When the house arrived on site, the walls and roof were already up. The plumbing and electrical were already in the walls. The balance of the week was a lot of interior design finishes, custom treatments for the family and special extras. … The house was completed within three days.

What was it like to be part of the show?

It was a very long week and a lot of hard work. … You're exhausted but you really feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. … It changes you, and the impact changes their family in a profound way.

The cast and crew of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has had a very long season. You're going from one shoot to the next, week after week, living in hotels and motels. They're living on the road like a rock band would do with a concert tour. Their heart is definitely in the right place.

What's the relationship between the new Scott Shimberg Homes and your longstanding family company, Hyde Park Builders?

Hyde Park is our licensed entity that has all the permits. The custom-built (off-site) homes are through Scott Shimberg Homes.

We launched this year and have done our first several (off-site constructions). I believe the industry will be moving in this direction in the future. It's happening around the world.

You've gone through a rough couple of years in home building. Is business improving?

The climate is improving, but we need to take an opportunity like this to change our paradigm of how we think about building. We need to have products better-built with shorter completion times and a lower cost. I think that's essential as we come out of whatever we're coming out of now.

When someone looks to build a new home, (they) could actually stay in the same neighborhood and two or three months from now have a new home in the neighborhood (they) like. It's a different way of thinking.

If you watch

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Tampa homebuilder takes on "Extreme Makeover" challenge 05/14/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 14, 2010 9:17pm]
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