Former THS grad wins $100,000 home renovation contest

Former Tecumseh graduate Lee Bird and his wife Anne were stunned on June 10 when they became the winners of the 2015 CertainTeed Living Spaces Home Makeover Contest, a prize package worth $100,000. The contest was open nationwide, and had 32 entries. The Grand Prize winner was determined on which home needed an extreme renovation, and the creativity of the entries. Lee and Anne Bird snagged the win with their entry “Rapping for a Redo.” In the video, Lee and Anne sang and rapped about their home in Farmington Hills, Mich., which needs extensive repairs. Their sons Max, 3, and Leo, 1, also participated in the video. CertainTeed reviewed the videos of the Top Ten entries, which were voted upon by the public on Facebook beforehand. Eleven home office executives from CertainTeed voted to determine the winner. When it came to winning the contest, Lee thought his entry was a long-shot. “I didn’t think we were going to win one bit. Once we entered, Anne always said not to worry about the repairs, because we would fix it when we won. I couldn’t roll my eyes any bigger, because people like us don’t win these things. You think these things are rigged or fixed, and we don’t know anybody who’s ever won something like this. It shows how lucky we are.”The Birds’ thanked their friends for referring them to the contest, and letting them know they stood a chance of winning. “Friends of ours, Joe and Mel Danley, entered the contest two years ago with their house in Indian Village. This wouldn’t have been possible if we weren’t friends of them and hadn’t heard about it,” Lee said. After his wife heard about the contest, she was determined on entering in order to gain the much needed repairs for the home. “It was all Anne. She’s the creative one between us and she was dead set on doing it. It took her two months to come up with the song, and everyday I’d come home from work and she had a new line,” Lee said. “I was just along for the ride. She wanted to make it creative and she looked at the previous winners to see what caught the eyes of the judges and voters. Funny skits or songs usually won, not just tours of the house with narration. It had to be kitchy.” Some of the things needing repair on the home include the porch, siding and roof. The Birds’ also need to install insulation and ventilation, and a deck and a privacy fence. Lee was less than thrilled to purchase the house originally, but now is thankful they did. “We bought the house in November of 2011. I wasn’t enthused about buying the house in the first place, but with all the research on home buying we did it said if you liked the lot and you liked the location, that’s the two most important things and you can work on the other stuff. First time we went to look at the house I didn’t even want to get out of the car. But eventually I did, and Anne was like, ‘Listen, we’ll chip away at everything, we’ll fix everything, but the location is awesome.’ It’s like our own little cottage. It’s serene, a good lot, a good location. I trusted her and said, ‘Okay, we’ll eventually make this work.’ Turns out eventually is now.”CertainTeed is working with the Birds’ to renovate the home how they request it. “What’s really cool is that they’re letting us do what we want to do. They’re letting us pick the colors, the shingles and the fence. It’s unbelievable. I keep saying I still can’t believe it,” Lee said.The house has 12 rooms, with four bedrooms and two and a half baths. “It’s a Cape Cod. It was built in 1940, and it’s been added on and added up. It’s pretty chopped up, but it gives us some character. It’s ours. It’s not a cookie-cutter house. It’s a place we can stick together for a long time,” Lee said.Josh Barnett, local resident and Tecumseh High School graduate, filmed the video and edited it. “Anne asked me to get Josh’s contact info, and he was over-the-top energetic about it,” Lee said. “He helped us to fine tune the lyrics to make them work better. I can’t believe it. He was super positive and took a few extra shots just to make sure we had the film saved. He came over one day and we did the audio voiceover in Max’s bedroom, and he recorded the tune on an iPhone and played that in a loop as we went over our lines. He was so great working with what we had, and what we were thinking. He had our backs the whole way.” Family and friends came together to help the video reach the Top 10 through Facebook voting. “What was really amazing was people who we hadn’t seen in years from college and high school were making it part of their everyday routine to vote,” Lee said.Douglas Bird, Lee’s father, and local Tecumseh resident, is thrilled that his son won the contest. “We were all flabbergasted. We would look at the other videos and think, ‘Well, Lee’s and Anne’s is still pretty good.’ Theirs was pretty creative.”Innovation and creativity were the key factors that enabled the Birds to win. “The judges said the lines, ‘Hit it Leo!’ and, ‘I think this is a cat door?’ really stood out. “CertainTeed said the curb appeal of the home and the transformation that would take place would really reflect their products,” Douglas stated.Overall, Douglas is happy for his son, his daughter-in-law and his grandchildren. “We’re tickled for the family,” Douglas said. “It’s gonna be like a new home.”Lee is grateful for not only the winnings, but also the time spent together with family while creating the video. “Even if we didn’t win, it was fun to do together,” Lee said. “Once we got going and started filming, I had a great time. We did it with the boys, and with Josh’s help, we made a lot of memories. If anything we had a lot of fun, and even without the results that’s a win right there.”You can find the winning video on the Internet at

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