May 2006 — When the Llanes family immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in search of a better life, little did they know that one day they would live in a new home that is expected to become a model for the use of technological innovations to help the blind and the deaf.

Father Vicente, 42, of Bergenfield, who is blind due to a hereditary disease, came to the United States in 1997 in search of better medical care for himself; his mother, who is also blind; his two daughters, who are going blind; his son, who is deaf due to German measles contracted by his mother during pregnancy; and his wife, who has thyroid cancer.

The family has been selected by ABC’s Emmy Award-winning reality television show, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” to have a new home built for them by Pinnacle Companies, a real estate development and investment company that prides itself on offering its customers the most advanced technological innovations for the home. Indeed, Pinnacle’s president and chief executive officer, Brian Stolar, calls the high-tech house the company will build for the Llanes family the “Z Home.”

“It’s beyond Extreme,” he said. “It takes technology as far as it can go.”

On May 4, the family will receive the “door knock” from the design team, the build will commence on May 6 and finish at the “reveal” when they will come home to their new house for the first time. The two-hour episode is scheduled to be a summer special for the show, which airs on Sunday evenings at 8 p. m.

Despite their disabilities, the family functions amazingly well. Vicente sends books in Braille to children all over the world and even manages to do repair work around the house and most of the cooking for the family. Daughter Guenivir, 19, is a student at a local community college and mother Maria is a physical therapist. Moreover, they are proud to be United States citizens. Grandmother Isabel, 74, was previously a citizen, while Vicente and Maria just gained citizenship on April 13.

The main impediment to even better lives is their house. The 50-year-old, 1,312-square-foot split-level is the source of a multitude of problems. Because the blind substitute reliance on the sense of hearing for the loss of sight, the noise generated by the nearby street is a constant irritant. For instance, Vicente can only work on his Braille books at night because he cannot concentrate due to the street noise during the day. The noise problem is exacerbated by the fact that they can’t have any noise-absorbing carpeting in their house because son, Zeb, 16, suffers from severe allergies. Also, because Guenivir and her sister, Carrie, 12, can still see some light and color, the darkness of their home is an impediment to the use of their little remaining sight.

All this -- plus a host of other problems with their house -- will change when Pinnacle builds the family a new house that is friendly to the blind. The house will have good lighting, sliding doors instead of traditional doors that get in the way of the blind when they are left open and sound-proofing insulation to keep out street noise. In addition, there will an incredible array of high tech gadgetry to make their lives easier and more economical, from talking thermostats to solar electricity.

“It’s amazing the technology that’s being made available to help this family,” Stolar said. “Everything in this house will be state-of-the-art. It will push technology as far as it can go, truly exemplifying what the Z-home concept is all about.”

Notes on Llanes Family Members
Vicente, 42, father, blind
Maria, 39, mother, cancer, works as physical therapist
Isabel, 74, grandmother, blind
Guenivir, 19, daughter, going blind
Zeb, 16, son, deaf/allergies
Carrie, 12, daughter, going blind
Romney, German Shepherd, Seeing Eye dog

About Pinnacle
Pinnacle, which includes Pinnacle Communities, Pinnacle Custom and Pinnacle Downtown, is among the most respected real estate development and investment companies in the industry. The award-winning company has built an enviable reputation in the sale and rental of luxury, active adult and custom housing, as well as the office, retail and mixed-use markets. Since the company’s founding in 1984, Pinnacle has built in excess of 3,000 luxury attached and detached homes as well as several million square feet of commercial space. Pinnacle’s innovative approach to development and creative problem-solving abilities are qualities that continually position Pinnacle as “what’s next” in the real estate market.

About Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
This year ABCs Extreme Makeover: Home Edition earned an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program. It is one of the most watched programs in the nation and is produced by Endemol USA, a division of Endemol Holding. David Goldberg is the president of Endemol USA. The series is executive-produced by Tom Forman. The show airs on Sundays (8:00-9:00 p. m. ET), on the ABC Television Network.

Media Notes
Media are welcome on site for the duration of the build; press ID is required and advance notice is recommended. Press releases about the builders will be distributed on site, via e-mail and through the above media contact. Interviews with the builders can also be arranged through the above media contact. For more information, visit the builders’ Web site at

For more information on the show, contact Mozell Miley, ABC publicist, at 212-456-6444 or via e-mail at