DIY SOS: The Big Build viewers were left in tears over the stunning transformation of a cramped terraced house into a spacious wheelchair-accessible family home.
Cat and Chris Sweet live in Weston-super-Mare with their three children, Louisa, 14, Max, 11, and Henry, six, who all have degenerative illnesses. Soon they will all need to use wheelchairs full-time.
At the start of the episode, the family were struggling with the lack of space. Cat said: ‘In six months time I’ve got three full-time wheelchair users in my house and my house is like this.
‘I don’t know how that’s going to work. I can’t physically move my children any more. I’m scared that will happen before we’ve had the chance to do anything. We won’t have anywhere to live anymore.’
Family: Cat and Chris Sweet live in Weston-super-Mare with their three children, Louisa, 14, Max, 11, and Henry, six, who all have degenerative illnesses. Their home was renovated on last night’s episode of DIY SOS: The Big Build
Kitchen before: The kitchen was too congested to fit all members of the family and the worktops were not accessible Kitc
Kitchen after: The addition of a ground floor extension created space for this kitchen-dining-living room for the whole family
Living room before: The compact living room did not give the family enough space to relax and enjoy themselves
Living room after: The room was repurposed as a trendy bedroom for 16-year-old Louisa, complete with make-up station
Front door before and after: The house before the renovation (left) and after the nine-day DIY SOS build (right)
Harry has was diagnosed as a baby with Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a condition which affects connective tissue in the body and leads to such severe joint pain that he struggles to sleep.
As the condition is inherited, doctors began to examine Louise and Max.
Genetic testing found both have Friedreich’s ataxia, a rare and neurodegenerative condition with a range of symptoms including slurred speech, weakness in the legs and an abnormal curvature of the spine. The condition is life-limiting and everyone diagnosed becomes a full-time wheelchair user, usually in their late teens.
Cat, who is a full time carer, said birthdays are bittersweet because each year she can see her children’s health worsening.
The problems were compounded by the lack of space in the house, with Louisa needing to climb up the stairs on all-fours and the family struggling to sit around the dinner table together due to the lack of space.
Max’s bedroom before: One of the boys slept in this single bedroom but struggled for space
Max’s bedroom after: The room is transformed thanks to some bright, geometric wall art and a more inviting bed
Harry’s bedroom before: The seven-year-old slept in this bedroom but need somewhere better suited to his needs
Harry’s bedroom after: They added a medical bed, air filtration system and automatic blinds to give him more independence
Family bathroom before: The whole family had to fight over the same family bathroom, picturedF
Family bathroom after: As well as adding a bathroom downstairs, the team created this fully accessible space
With the help of local volunteers, Nick Knowles and the DIY SOS team were able to make the home bigger and more wheelchair accessible with a clever use of space and extensions on the ground and first floor.
The cramped downstairs living room was repurposed as a trendy bedroom for Louisa and the poky kitchen replaced with a large kitchen-diner-living space with room for the whole family.
Upstairs, the boys were each given their own bedrooms to grow into, with support and medical aides built in. Two large wheelchair-accessible bathrooms were also added to give the children more independence.
On the top floor, Cat and Chris were given a bedroom where they can relax at the end of the day.
Guest bedroom: The addition of a guest bedroom means family can stay over and help Cat and Chris
Hallway before: There was hardly any space to move around on the landing of the family home before
Hallway afterwards: Wider doors and a wider landing means wheelchairs can be used on the first floor
New lift: The team added this lift so the family didn’t have to worry about getting up and down the stairs
The outside areas were also transformed, with the front and back gardens made wheelchair accessible and family friendly.
Viewers were blown away by the transformation, with one tweeting: ‘Phenomenal people are everywhere. Who says community spirit doesn’t exist. Love what you do – and say it every week. Youvare all amazing people. #diysos.’
Another posted: ‘#diysos has finished me off even more than usual Crying face @MrNickKnowles and everyone on that programme are absolutely amazing #heroes.’
A third wrote: ‘What an incredible build for a beautiful family #DIYSOS we are in floods of tears here. Absolute heroes all.’
Back garden before: Plenty of space, but the garden wasn’t best suited to three children who will be wheelchair users
Back garden afterwards: The area was transformed and still feels spacious even with the extension (pictured)
Front garden now: The path and stylish front garden is perfect for wheelchairs