The work force in DIY SOS are made up of volunteers
Scores of people in hi-vis jackets and hard hats are gathering, someone in a gazebo is dispensing tea and biscuits, the surrounding streets are crammed with tradesmen’s vans and in a car park a block of portaloos has been set up.
There are also lines of stacked wheelbarrows, stepladders and even cement mixers. Piles of timber and steel joists are lifted into place alongside them.
It is all for one reason: to transform the home of a family that almost nobody here will have even met before.
Nobody is being paid or even allowed to advertise the fact they are involved in the project. And everything is donated free of charge.
This is the site of the latest project by DIY SOS – a show that has gained a reputation for reducing grown men to tears as five million viewers tune in every week to see an army of volunteers give their time and expertise to help out complete strangers.
The programme, which returns to our screens this Thursday, has been running for 16 years – and, according to host Nick Knowles, has in that time employed the services of some 23,000 tradesmen, all of whom responded to appeals on social media or via flyers and turned out to help transform the lives of someone less fortunate than them.
Presenter Nick Knowles says DIY SOS 'changes people's lives'
So what is in it for them? And what is it about the show that seems to touch a nerve with so much of the country?
We are actually changing people’s lives, doing something good
The Daily Express was given exclusive access on site at Yapton to find out what motivates the people who make the show a success.
Previous episodes have seen the team build an extension for a family in Chesterfield whose daughter required 24-hour care for a heart defect, and renovating the Enfield home of Eric Rivers, who had been diagnosed with terminal motor neurone disease.
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In 2015 their Homes For Veterans special regenerated an entire street in Manchester. Among the volunteers in that episode were Princes William and Harry and the show drew 9.6 million viewers.
The Yapton project may not be on that scale but the emotions involved are equally high. The team are here to help mum-of-four Amanda Worne, 44, who in January last year crashed her bicycle while exercising, breaking 11 bones including her back.
She has been left paralysed from the waist down and as a result getting around her house has become a problem.
As Amanda, husband Vic and their children Megan, 19, Jacob, 17, Amelia, 15, and Joseph, 13, emerge from their old home for the last time the assembled volunteers give a cheer.
“My role of mum was stolen away from me,” she says to the workforce. You are here to devote your time and energy into giving that back to me. That means more than anything else in the world.”
Mum-of-four Amanda was left paralysed from the waist down after falling off her bike
She has barely turned the corner at the end of the cul-de-sac when the team are through the door and work begins.
As the house is gutted – everything that’s not load-bearing is ripped out, hammers and crowbars swinging, the air choked with dust – Gary Fisk, a decorator from Arundel, explains why he is here.
“I remember reading about this lady in the local paper when the accident happened. When I heard DIY SOS were coming I got very excited about helping out.
“She has lost [the use of] her legs, losing a week’s earnings is nothing compared with that.”
Nick Knowles and Emmerdale's Gemma Oaten get cosy Mon, September 12, 2016
TV presenter Nick Knowles was spotted getting close to Emmerdale's Gemma Oaten following the TV Choice Awards on Tuesday night.
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Next to Gary is handyman Bryan Heymeson. “It is a chance to put something back into the community,” he says. “I had to get involved.”
Not everyone is local. A man who would only give his name as Al, of a timber supply company in Bedfordshire, explains: “This is more satisfying than being paid. It’s a chance to do some good.
"There is usually a bit of competitiveness on a site but in here you have 70 or 80 people all helping each other, which is amazing.”
Striding through the chaos is Nick Knowles, followed by a cameraman. He stops to help out, explain what is happening or swap a bit of banter with the workmen.
“What is important about this show is that we are not just doing a makeover,” he says. “We are actually changing people’s lives, doing something good.
The workforce are not allowed to advertise that they are appearing on the show
“That’s why it works and that’s why all these lads are willing to do it for free. They are mostly self-employed so if anything they are losing money.
"They are giving up time and labour, materials and skills just to help someone. That’s incredible. It never fails to move me.”
He also points out what they are planning for Amanda’s house. Downstairs, the living room is to be extended into the garden and made open-plan, the kitchen will be expanded to allow Amanda’s wheelchair proper access – and the counters and hob are to be fitted with a height-adjustable mechanism, meaning she can cook again.
Upstairs, the bathroom will be moved and made into a wetroom and, most ambitiously, a lift will be installed giving Amanda the freedom to move around the whole house by herself, something she has not been able to do since she left hospital.
There is such a feeling of positivity on site,” Nick continues. “People love this show because they see that people can actually care about each other.
“And if you are struggling with your own problems you can see that you might not be alone after all. We can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone.”
And over the following week, as the old house is ripped out and a new home takes shape inside, the number of volunteers grows until finally, late at night before the morning of the reveal, the last lick of paint is applied and the build is finished.
Regular viewers will know that it is the moment when the family sees their home for the first time that often sets the tears flowing. And this build is to be no exception.
As an emotional Amanda thanks the volunteers again – the original 75 or so who had turned up on day one had grown to some 250 by day nine – many of them are choking back the tears.
DIY SOS has been known to move grown men to tears
Landscaper Barnaby Macey explained how he had spent the previous day laying a garden path in torrential rain and how he had to do it four times because people kept treading on it. He also says he would happily do it all again.
“If nobody was prepared to lend a hand in need what a dark, dreary world it would be, right?” he says. “And helping people is infectious. I mean, look at Amanda’s face.
"I look at her and think, ‘I helped put that smile there.’”
Husband and wife team Steve and Jacki Mant who run an electricians business were equally emotional.
“We have supplied two electricians every day of the build,” says Jacki. “I guess it has cost us a bit but I’m a mum too and it just makes you realise what you have got.
“You don’t come into this to get something, you do it to give something. It is nice to even have the opportunity to help.”
As tissues are dispensed Amanda makes a point of thanking the volunteers personally, a process that takes most of the morning. And watching her with a beaming smile is Nick.
“We think we live in a society where people are out to get each other,” he says. “And this shows we are not. It is that simple.
“And you know what the real sign of that is? So many of the people who give up their time and skills for free to work for us end up coming up to say thank you to us afterwards as if we have done them a favour.”
He waves a hand at the workers slowly drifting off back to their normal lives and jobs. “I believe they are all going to leave this site thinking something has changed for them,” he says.
● DIY SOS is on Thursday at 8.55pm on BBC One.