One lucky family in Northeast Georgia will soon get the surprise of a lifetime: a visit from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s Ty Pennington and a new home courtesy of Lake Country homebuilders Pilot Builders and Smart Properties.

This will be the first build in the region for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition – the Emmy-award winning ABC program that helps change the lives of families and inspires remarkable community support.  The show travels all over the country to renovate or build an entire home for deserving families.

Lead builders on this project will be Madison-based Smart Properties and Lake Oconee’s Pilot Builders.  Pilot has been building in the Lake Country for more than 13 years.  According to co-owner Doug Tumlin, the opportunity to aid a family in need was one that Pilot could not pass up.

“The opportunity to change a life doesn’t come along real often,” said Tumlin.  “We’re excited about using our experience developing unique, custom solutions for home owners in a different setting.

“We’ve also been thrilled by the enthusiasm of our subcontractors and suppliers.  They are excited to be able to assist on a project that is going to fundamentally change someone’s life.”

Several finalists within the region are being considered for the build.

On June 30, a pep rally will be held in the area for those interested in volunteering or supporting the project.  The build schedule will also be revealed at the event.

On July 10, the winning family will receive a knock on their door from Ty Pennington and will be taken on vacation while their home is built.

Cathey, a native of Madison in Morgan County, founded Smart Properties in 2001.  The company specializes in custom building and renovations in Madison, Atlanta, and the mountains of North Carolina and South Carolina.

“The opportunity to do this – with all the negative things that are going on in the world – the opportunity to be able to do something positive and something good for a family that is in need is the main reason that I’m excited to be able to be a part of this,” said Cathey.  

According to Tumlin, the greatest challenge will be to coordinate hundreds of skilled and unskilled volunteers during the build.  

“Building a home in a week is probably the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced,” said Tumlin.  “The logistics of it, I don’t think we could pull it off on our own, but the system the Extreme Makeover team brings to it will make it possible.  We also need to find hundreds of volunteers, and we know that the community will come out to support this effort.”  

Over the years, Pilot has developed a reputation for designing and building custom homes built for retirees and second home buyers on Lake Oconee.  Pilot will also be designing the home for the family selected for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  

For more information, please visit or

React to this story:


This Week's Circulars