Arlene Nickless was the lucky woman who got her house remodeled by the popular show ‘Extreme Makeover’ where hundreds of volunteers turned...

++ Single Mom Gets The Ultimate House Revamp On ‘Extreme Makeover', Gets Evicted ++ Single Mom Gets The Ultimate House Revamp On ‘Extreme Makeover', Gets Evicted

++ Single Mom Gets The Ultimate House Revamp On ‘Extreme Makeover', Gets Evicted

++ Single Mom Gets The Ultimate House Revamp On ‘Extreme Makeover', Gets Evicted

 Arlene Nickless was the lucky woman who got her house remodeled by the popular show ‘Extreme Makeover’ where hundreds of volunteers turned up to help with the construction. The episode was aired on national TV for the whole country to see the special reveal at the end.


Arlene couldn’t have been happier after getting her dream house, especially given the tragic circumstances in her life that producers knew they had a chance to help with. But sadly, all the good from the makeover wouldn't last long. So, what set Arlene on this journey in the first place?

New and Improved

After 18 years of marriage, Arlene's husband Tim had died suddenly and tragically. In the aftermath of his passing, the Nickless family was selected by the show 'Extreme Makeover'. Arlene was trying her best to raise her three kids all on her own which compelled the producers over at ABC to help the widowed mom.


Arlene’s ever so helpful neighbors pitched in with their support, and made it possible for her to get her 3200 square-foot house transformed into the home she always wanted. But even though the makeover was free, it still came at a cost no one saw coming.

The Tax Mountain

As much happiness as the new and improved home brought Arlene, it also came with its baggage. With time, the taxes on the property increased by 300%, which tripled the original value. Arlene struggled hard with the payments and finally caught up with them, only to be met with more important expenses that couldn’t be overlooked. This was a huge setback for Arlene. 


Surrounded with misery and anguish, Arlene did the math and saw herself moving out of her house in the coming future. The house was mortgaged and sadly in September, its possession was taken away from the struggling single mom, putting it up for auction. 

A Moment To Cherish And To Forget

Arlene remembers the day the ‘Extreme Makeover’ guys landed on her front yard as clear as day. It was one of the happiest moments of her life when she was awe-struck with the sheer glamour the camera crew brought, along with Ty Pennington.


Now, however, the happy and glamourous feelings drifted away. Cardboard boxes full of her and her family's things were put on moving trailers due to head out. Arlene was overcome with the sadness of losing her house, especially because her house was a family home and she and her husband had lived in it for so long together before his passing. She could only think of the disastrous outcome and how there wasn't much happiness for her to hold onto.  


They Are Not To Be Blamed

People have been putting a lot of the blame on the show ‘Extreme Makeover’ as there are numerous cases of families being left homeless after they have appeared on the show due to the fact that the burden of the taxes increases. Arlene, however, isn’t one of those people and she quickly came to rescue the show’s reputation stating that it wasn't the show’s fault for her bad break.


Instead, she pointed her finger at her mortgage servicer, which is now being looked into by investigators and authorities. Apparently, the time spent with the team of ‘Extreme Makeover’ was an amazing ride for the single mom, and Arlene was about to defend them in a big way.

Pre-Existing Money Problems

The closing down of her house was the result of the already existing house-related problems, stated Arlene. The rising costs of the property were difficult for her even before the TV show got in contact with her family.


Initially, after the makeover, the house was indebted to a total of $30,000 but over the years that amount increased and by 2016, Arlene owed $113,000. Quite obviously this was something Arlene just couldn’t afford. On top of this, the toll on her emotions was growing.

Rest In Peace Tim

In an interview, Arlene revealed the personal side of the family story. Her husband Tim who she was married to for 18 amazing years had contracted an illness when he used contaminated medical supplies.


He fought the disease valiantly for seven long years before he succumbed to it in January of 2008. Nine months later ‘Extreme Makeover’ stepped in to help the struggling family. It was a huge loss to the single mom and her kids and they weren’t sure how they were going to cope without a husband and father.


All For One And One For All

Lost and alone in this world, Arlene had nowhere to look to for help, or so she thought. Apart from the ‘Extreme Makeover’ support, Arlene received another unexpected and kind gift.

man climbing on ladder inside room

It was unbelievable for Arlene when she saw the support of 1600 people from the neighborhood all coming together to help rebuild the family’s 1860s farmhouse. Due to the medical condition of her husband all efforts of the family were put into his well being and not much care was shed upon the house itself. Understandably so, after the death of Tim, Arlene didn’t put much care into the house’s maintenance.

In Came The Wrecking Ball

Their old home was totally demolished, which proved to be a difficult thing for the family as, along with the house, the amazing memories they had shared within its walls weren’t as tangible as they were before, but it had to be done.


The process of rebuilding was rather quick, taking a little over five days. After the team had finished, Arlene and her family were presented with a gorgeous 3300 square-foot house with four bedrooms. The house received some unique tweaks like stone columns and dark wooden floors.

Personal Renditions

Famous for leaving personal touches for each individual of the family, the show did the same with the Nickless family as well. Each of the three boys was given themed bedrooms which included a LEGO-themed room, a blueprint-themed bedroom, and finally an airplane-themed bedroom.


‘Extreme Makeover’ really got to know the boys and put in a lot of effort and time in understanding them and their interests. Remarkably, the entire neighborhood came together to support. 

Flawless Timing


During a period so aggravating for the family, the show couldn’t have offered their help at a better time. These were the views of the Nickless family when their morales were uplifted with the ‘Extreme Makeover’s intervention.


One of the many good things that came out of the makeover was that the state and banks involved in the mortgage found ways to cut the initial cost of $140,000 substantially to an amount of $30,000. Now, all Arlene needed to do was find that kind of money.

It Is How It Is, I Guess

The annual taxes until 2016 crossed the triple threshold, and that was years later after the makeover. Needless to say, this increase was a massive setback for the family with their finances increasing and their bank statements depleting to nothingness.  


Arlene knew she had to find a way to get her family out of this otherwise they were bound to be homeless permanently. But easier said than done: finding such an enormous amount of money is no easy task especially when you have three kids to raise all on your own.

Bills, Bills, And More Bills

The Nickless family needed a break desperately and unfortunately, life did not want to give them one. In 2010, Arlene got into a car accident which meant a whole new pile of medical and car expenses. All on top of the ever-existing finances of the house.


These urgent matters placed themselves on top of the priority list for the family and by the end of 2010, she had to kiss her home goodbye to a sheriff’s sale. Arlene tried her best but it wasn’t looking good for her.

The Problems Just Keep Coming

In between this storm of confusion and problems, the mortgage service that was handling Arlene’s case offered to pay off the money the family owed if she could come up with $15,000. However, her mortgage was taken over by another company before she even had the chance to pay the money.


After this incident, for years, the family struggled with clearing their debt which was growing month after month and they just couldn’t find their silver lining.

Where’s My Money?

Arlene was struggling with her payments and it was only getting worse. In order to see what her options were, she tried getting in contact with the new company that had taken over her mortgage.


Desperate for answers, Arlene looked everywhere but it was almost impossible to receive help from anyone at the company who spoke English. In the end, Arlene decided to stop her payments altogether simply because she didn’t know where her money was going.

Discrepancy In Finances

Arlene even did her research on the mortgage company but couldn't find anything good online about them. In fact, the state of Michigan even issued a cease and desist order on the company, and released a public statement.


Apparently, according to the statement released, the company did not maintain records or credit payments which meant that Arlene wasn’t just paying massive amounts to this company but her payment history wasn’t even being recorded.

The Tide Continues To Rise

From 2011 onwards, the time when the company started to process Arlene’s loan, she halted all the payments for the house, but the company carried on to pay all taxes and insurance on her home.


The value of the house has risen to $270,000 which is way more than it actually was before the show gave it a revamp. Help was offered in 2014 by a company that offered a change in the payment plan to Arlene but that was still a bit too much for her to go through with.

The Second Foreclosure

People offered suggestions to help out the family, most of them turning their attention to non-profitable mortgage programs. Regrettably, these companies can only provide little help since they have their own scarce finances to take care of.


So, in 2016 the house went for another foreclosure and was sold for $113,000. Funds needed by the family weren't raised which led to the house being on the auction list on an auction website for $176,000. For this reason, the family was expected to vacate the premises as quickly as possible.

The Show’s Fault?

Arlene has stated from the start that ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ isn’t to blame for her current financial situation but there are other cases where families who appeared on the show have lost their home. A formal reply hasn’t been issued by any spokesperson of the show regarding these allegations.


The mortgage servicer has admitted to the fact that there were some discrepancies with some of their projects and their expense but has stated that they have cut back their builds to avoid further mistakes occurring in the future.

Bad Press

The show hasn’t always been known for its good reputation. There are sources who allege that Arlene and her family aren't the only ones to lose their home because of the show; there have been a few others as well.


This reputation is further tarnished by the fact that the show’s presenter, Ty Pennington, has never shown any sort of sympathy for the affected families. Not just that but in an interview, Ty stated that it was in no way, the responsibility of the show for what happens after the makeover.


Making It Worse

When you thought it couldn’t get any worse, in comes another reason to damage the show’s reputation. Sources claim that the show’s motives are not actually innocuous as they seem at first sight. The show claims that it’s all about caring for people and turning their lives around.


On the contrary, people claim that nothing could be further from the truth. A few of the families that have appeared on the show were ultimately made to sell their house or move to some other neighborhood. This is mostly because they were never made aware of the price of their new house and how it would affect them.  

What Next?

Sadly, no one knows what the future holds for the Nickless family, who were one of the unlucky ones to be dragged into this mess after the show. Losing a husband and a father is tough enough, no one should have to go and lose their home too.


A lot of rebuilding has to be put in by Arlene to get her life back on track and it’s hard when you have so many memories that don’t have a home to settle into. If there’s anything to be learned from Arlene's situation it's to always keep your chin up and never lose hope. This is also her message to the other affected families from the show.

End Of An Era

After living in that house for so many years, the Nickless family were to leave it on May 29, 2017. She had done everything possible to not give up on her dream house but it seemed like the universe just didn’t want that to happen.


Tired and hopeless Arlene began packing it up with her sister and given the fact that the house was 3300 square-feet, gathering everything and boxing it was not a trivial task but in the end, it had to be done.


A Short Stay

The Nickless family were all packed and ready to leave before their eviction was stalled by Ocwen. The bank who formulated so many problems for Arlene wanted a bit more time to perform a walkthrough to get a firm appraisal for the property.


It didn’t mean any change of plans for Arlene but if there was ever a time for something drastic to happen, this was definitely that time.

Fund Me Why Don’t You?

One final step was taken by J Ervin Bates who was desperate to help out Arlene and her family. He set up a gofundme page for her in hopes that if people saw what Arlene was experiencing they would offer their help and save her from being homeless.


It was a huge leap of faith considering the fact that the end goal was a whopping $150,000 but it was worth a shot. 

Can’t Pull Off A Miracle

Sadly there was no happy ending for Arlene despite Bates trying his best to help her. The gofundme page did gather a lot of money, more accurately $2715 but it was nothing compared to the ridiculous amount of $150,000 that was needed.


This page was set up back in 2017 and it doesn’t seem possible now that it will reach its goal. Not to mention there haven’t been any updates on Arlene and how her family is doing but Bates’ efforts are to be applauded and worthy of commendations.

Where Are They Now?

To answer that question, no one knows. In one of the last updates by Bates on the gofundme page, he had stated that Arlene had lost all hope of getting her house back after speaking to her attorney. There was no way left for her to reclaim her prized possession.


The Nickless family hasn’t been heard from since 2017 and no one has the slightest idea of where they might have moved out to. We all hope that they landed themselves somewhere new where they can have a fresh start and make new and happy memories. 

Not That Easy

Getting your family selected for ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ isn’t as easy as it seems. There was a long queue for contestants to be looked into and finally shortlisted but truth be told there probably is a good reason behind this process.


One of the designers of the show, Rib Hills talked to The Function Critic and explained how the casting team had to go through thousands and thousands of applications. It wasn’t just the sheer number of applications they received but they also had to figure out which were genuine and which were phony.

Going Overboard

One of the many accusations the show has faced is that they go overboard when it comes to rebuilding a house i.e people were given bigger homes than they required. Sure one might say that the show did this to make people’s dreams come true with all the personal touches and fancy finishes, but these expansions tend to become a nuisance in the later years.


It wasn’t just Arlene who lost her home, in fact, there have been other cases as well. One such case emerged when the family of four was given a six-bedroom and a seven-bathroom house and before they knew, their expenses transcended their budget.

Getting Out, By Hook Or By Crook

It was obvious that the bills and taxes were going to skyrocket for the families after the show was done with them but the show did try to find loopholes for the families to avoid these expenses. 


Their idea was that since taxes don’t count for rental homes if they were rented out for 15 days or a year. So the company offered the families to rent them their homes for two weeks to avoid the taxes. Regrettably, this loophole couldn’t save the distressed families.


Not so surprisingly, a few people have taken the show to court. One of them, the Higgins Family, were left as orphans. The Leomitis family took them in so the show wanted to give all of them a brand new home. 


After the completion of the house, the Higgins family claim that they were evicted from the house so they tried to sue the show. The claim further stated that they were never even given the house in the first place to which the show replied that the Leiomitis family was the one promised the house and not the Higgins family.

Out Of Options 

The single mom had been fortunate enough to have a supportive community of friends and neighbors around her who helped her throughout the rebuilding phase of the house, however not all of the contestants were as lucky. Some of them even had to sell their house.


Another scenario which the people are faced with is moving in or out of the contestants in a new area. Neighbors have been emotionally hurt by people they have bonded over for years, pack their bags and leave, the ironically sad part being they put in huge amounts of effort to help their friends. On the other hand, there are people who found the new neighbors not to their liking and were quickly annoyed by the entire situation.

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