While design team leader Ty Pennington was preparing to film this episode in his hometown of Atlanta, he underwent surgery for a perforated appendix. Although he was still recuperating, the energetic and dedicated Pennington did not want to let the family down. The episode incorporated his predicament into the show and captured how Ty was able to do his part from his hospital bed and, later in the week, to participate in the reveal for the Harper Family from the Atlanta suburb of Lake City, Georgia—a family that had worked hard and sacrificed for all the right reasons, but still could not achieve their dream of providing a real home for their children.
Several years ago, Patricia and Milton Harper lost their two-year-old son when he choked on his food. At the time, the family was living in the projects in Brooklyn, New York. Sadly, the paramedics couldn’t get to the child in time to save his life.
Life for them in the projects was tough enough, but the tragedy of their son’s death prompted the couple to work even harder and get their family out of there. After putting in long hours and saving up every penny they had, the Harpers packed up their kids and bought their first home, a 1400 square-foot, four-bedroom ranch house just outside Atlanta.
What these first-time homeowners didn’t know was they had just bought a big dump—literally. Unaware of any problems when they purchased the home, the Harpers soon found themselves knee-high in raw sewage! Every time it rained hard—which was often—their septic tank would back up and human waste actually flooded their suburban home. The Harpers have been living in and out of their minivan because of bacteria in the house, not to mention the horrible stench that has damaged their possessions. Their furniture, clothes and even their dreams have all been ruined. Recently their minivan was in an accident, so even that shelter was taken from them. They tried to fix up a couple of the rooms in their house to live in, but were dealt yet another blow when another rainstorm produced a gaping hole in the ceiling of one of those rooms.
Patricia and Milton—who operates his own home security business—want to create a stable home for their children, Darius, 17, LaVaughn, 15, and eight-year-old Mister, and to offer them a safe haven to come home to every day. Now, unlike their home, this family is completely drained, both emotionally and financially. The design team, Atlanta-based national homebuilder Beazer Homes and hundreds of workers and volunteers provide the Harpers with a clean and stable living environment. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy, who lives in Georgia, also came by to lend a helping hand. Meanwhile, the family went on vacation at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.