Ed Rowland, owner of NDA Kitchen in Nesconset, N.Y., noticed the popularity of the ABC show Extreme Makeover and decided to run a similar local kitchen makeover contest for homeowners with a special need or situation. “I thought the contest would raise our name recognition, and we'd be able to do some charitable work,” he says. He put postings about the Ultimate One Week Kitchen Renovation contest on his Web site, at a local home show, and on postcards in churches and businesses in his community. He received 100 applications. He and his staff conducted phone interviews with about 12 homeowners and found about 6 with a true need for remodeling to aid their day-to-day lives. He, his marketing consultant, and his manager visited a few houses and chose Brian Cruise as the winner. Cruise is a quadriplegic with a deteriorating condition.

The project scope began with a kitchen remodel, but grew to include a bath remodel, fencing, ramps, decks, new furniture, and landscaping. All of the work was done in seven days. “I had 75% of my company working for the full seven days to pull this off,” Rowland says. He also had help from Brian's friends and time and product donations from many of his subcontractors.

As is the nature of remodeling, the team had several last-minute changes and surprises. For example, when they went to fill up the new whirlpool, they realized the old water heater could not handle the load and had to install a new one. “We had no choice but to resolve it then and there,” Rowland recalls. “I also underestimated how much work and how much of a distraction it would be for my company. When we do this again, I'll get more contractors involved,” he says.