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Tobi and Sarah step inside their termite-free Te Aroha home

Monday 28 Jul 2014 7:01p.m.

New termite-free home for Te Aroha family

For Te Aroha couple Tobi Lawton and Sarah Lee, the beginning of 2014 was filled with dread as they found themselves in a termite-infested home.

The first-home buyers faced bankruptcy as their dream home was literally disintegrating before their eyes. It was considered one of the worst termite infestations to ever invade a New Zealand home.

The parents to three young children, the Lawton family had been searching for years for a home and were extremely excited when they found something they could afford.

As part of their sale and purchase agreement, they put in a clause for a building inspection, which produced a 17-page report showing pictures and notes from around the house, in the roof space, and under the floor.

Apart from a few damp spots, the house seemed perfect and mentioned nothing of insect damage.

However when Mr Lawton went under the house to look for himself and found termite damage in every piece of framing he looked at, he was horrified at what he found.

When Campbell Live shared the Lawtons' story with its viewers, nearly $200,000 was raised to help build a new home for the family; an enormously generous effort. And with GJ Gardner Homes volunteering their services for the cause, things started look up for Tobi and Sarah.

In April, GJ Gardner kicked things off with local contractors Jack House Transit by lifting the termite-infested home off its foundations, easing it onto the street and taking it 20km down the road where it was buried deep into the ground.

The online fundraising website that Kiwis used to donate to the couple, Givealittle.co.nz, told Campbell Live Tobi and Sarah's cause was the most popular personal cause in the past six years, as well as the fastest. With 32 donations a minute, it crashed the site twice.

The first night on the website, $93,000 was donated overnight and then another $98,000 the second night.

Reporter Anna Burns-Francis made sure Tobi and Sarah's story was shared every step of the way and tonight Campbell Live was brought to you live from Te Aroha inside Tobi and Sarah's brand-new termite-free home.

Ms Burns-Francis was joined by John Campbell, the team of GJ Gardner Homes, as well as Tobi and Sarah plus all of their friends and family to receive the keys to their brand new home.

Watch the full report.

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