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‘Extreme Makeover’ house on Navajo reservation has problems after crews leave

House on Navajo Nation looks good, but it has issues

PINON – Georgia Yazzie says there are a litany of problems after the video cameras, volunteers and television crews left. It seemed like a dream come true when the Yazzies were the recipients of a new home built by ABC’s popular television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” in 2007.

But the house that was built, while splendid to look at, is cold in the winter months and has several building problems.

So cold the family of Georgia Yazzie’s oldest daughter, who had been living in a hogan on the north side of the home, moved in with in-laws rather than live in the house.

“It’s really cold. At least here I got the fireplace and the solar panel,” Yazzie said.

But the fireplace also poses a problem as Yazzie must minimize burning of wood because her daughter has severe asthma.

And because the home is huge, it takes a lot of energy to keep it warm. Yazzie said her old mobile home was probably only one-fourth the size of her home now.

“With the high ceiling all the heating goes up there,” she said.

Mark Snyder, an electrician who designed the home’s energy system, said the winter posed a big problem for the Yazzies.

“The solar heating system can’t keep up with all the holes in the house,” he said.

After returning to Pinon from Poway, Calif., to help the Yazzies, Snyder discovered only about two-thirds of the exterior wall was insulated and ducts were connected improperly.

He further found that fixing the envelope of the house, to make it more like a Thermos, would cost more than $55,000.

Snyder said he has already spent at least $10,000 and made eight trips to the Yazzie home since the house was built, trying to help the family. He has been trying to get ABC and the other contractors to fulfill their warranties.

Jonathan Hogan of ABC Media Relations did not respond to questions e-mailed to him regarding the policies for the houses built by “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and responsibility for fixing the homes.

However, Chris DiIorio, a spokesman for the show, said “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” does everything it can to help the families during and after the builds.

“Along with our builders and vendors, we warranty each house for at least a year after the makeover,” DiIorio stated in an e-mail.

“When we met the Yazzie family they had been living in a mobile home, which for the past five years had no running water or heat, with only half of the trailer capable of electricity, and the only water source coming from a garden hose through the kitchen window,” he wrote.

“With the Yazzie project, we built a house that is more energy efficient than 99 percent of the homes in America. We installed the most advanced technology possible to work toward giving the family a better life,” DiIorio stated in the e-mail.

Yazzie appreciates the home and is willing to do minor repairs, but she wants the warranties honored and the necessary repairs made so the family won’t have to make it through another cold winter.

“I’m thankful for the house but I wish they could stand to their word, repair anything that goes wrong. That is the agreement I signed on to,” she said.

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