March 21, 2008

Local company to appear on ABC's 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'

By Christy Smith
Staff Writer

DULUTH - Watch closely Sunday night's showing of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." You might catch a glimpse of Water Out-Atlanta and its owner, Frank Leff of Duluth.

Leff, 52, donated his quick dry services to the tear-jerking show that provides quality housing for disabled people or those giving much of their time helping others who live in undesirable conditions.

Leff took his equipment to Mobile, Ala., on Feb. 5 and 6 to help construct a home for a family of eight, one of whom is a child with Down Syndrome, Leff said.

"If you blink, you probably won't see me or my equipment," Leff said. "Most of the time is spent with the family. They shot 300 hours of video for about 40 minutes of air time."

Water Out, a national franchise, uses a new technology to dry out buildings quickly, such as flooded properties or damp homes suffering from mold infestation, by pulling in fresh outside air, warming it up, then sending it through the structure.

"We work with Water Out (franchises nationwide) on a regular basis," said John Shearer, project manager for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

It's also good for drying new drywall, Leff said. He put in hours drying the foundation, block walls and construction materials, saving the time it would have taken the products to air dry naturally.

"That's why they called us, because they put the house up in a week," Leff said. "They sent the family to the Super Bowl, so I didn't get to meet them."

The show's producers use an efficient process of around-the-clock workdays and large teams of contractors to get the house up in a week.

"Instead of having two or three people, they had about 25 doing sheetrock work," Leff said. "They had 50 masons to get the house bricked up in 10 hours. It's amazing how they have everything systemized."

The show uses all volunteers to accomplish its mission. All of Leff's cost came from his pocket.

"They didn't pay for the hotel or gasoline, and I don't know if I can write it off my taxes, but it gave me a lot of credibility," he said. "If they do one in the metro area, I would love to help them again."

More information about Water Out-Atlanta is available online at www.wateroutatlanta.com.