SLIDESHOW: Fairfield family's Extreme Home Makeover
FAIRFIELD, CA - "ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" is one of America's most popular reality shows. However, this week the show's producers said they have been scaling back home renovations because many of the houses were falling victim to the foreclosure crisis.
One example was an "Extreme Makeover" home in Clayton County, Georgia. It was built in 2005 and went into foreclosure less than four years later.
Another "Extreme Makeover" home in Oak Park, Michigan, is also in financial trouble. In this case, millions of people watched as Judy and Larry Vardon came home to a completely renovated home that would help better raise their blind and autistic son.
That particular episode may have set ratings records, but four years later, the family could lose their home to foreclosure because their mortgage payment has almost doubled since the makeover.
To make matters worse, their medical insurance doesn't cover their 16-year-old's autism treatments.
But in Northern California, the Tom family, who received their makeover in August 2005, is doing better than ever.
Susan Tom adopted 12 children from across the globe, all with varying degrees of disabilities.
Before the makeover, the Toms had a 25-year-old two-story home. The children in wheelchairs could barely move around; they had to crawl up the stairs to their bedrooms.
"We made the house work for us, but it didn't really work. We just made it work," said the oldest daughter, Margaret Tom.
Ty Pennington and "ABC's Extreme Makeover" team rebuilt their home, making it a three-story mansion, complete with an elevator. They did it while the Toms were away at Disney World.
When they returned, they had to "move that bus."
"I was just shocked. Even before the bus moved, my hands were shaking. I was all jittery," said Margaret.
Their new home sits between two smaller ones and looks a little out of place for their Fairfield neighborhood.
"Many times I'll drive around the corner and expect to see the old house, still, after five years," said Tom.
The home has helped the Tom children be more independent.
"They really thought (the designers). Everybody that wasn't capable before, we're capable now," said Xenia Tom, who was born without legs and adopted from Russia.
The Toms have not had the financial struggles other makeover families have but Susan understands how easily it could happen.
"You've increased your square footage so your taxes go up. Your utility bills go up because I now have 14-foot ceilings, a three-story house and we live in a very warm climate," she said.
Susan also said a little financial planning goes a long way.
"If you're given a house, you don't borrow against the house."
More on the Tom's Extreme Makeover:
by Nick Monacelli, News10