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Utah couple's mini-mansions make national TV debut

By Brooke Walker | Posted - Sep. 13, 2011 at 10:12 p.m.


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SALEM, Utah — What's it worth? That's concept of a new NBC reality show where contestants are asked to rank the value of three high-end items. In Tuesday's season finale, the work of a Utah homebuilder became part of the guessing game.

It was an elaborate, but pint-sized playhouse up against a 1910 collectible scale and a baseball signed by Pete Rose. The contestants felt confident the baseball was worth the most, but they were wrong.

At $7,000, this custom Utah-built playhouse proved to have the highest price tag.

When the housing market crashed, homebuilder Sergei Dengin was forced to think outside of the box. "That's when my wife said, ‘You know how to build houses, so how about we downscale from big homes down to little ones,'" he recalled.

Sergei Dengin and his wife, Jennifer, look over plans they've created for another of their Fancy Built playhouses.
Sergei Dengin and his wife, Jennifer, look over plans they've created for another of their Fancy Built playhouses.

So with his wife, Jennifer, acting as the designer, Dengin started building playhouses under the name Fancy Built. Drawing on real home designs as the inspiration, they add luxuries like electricity, insulation, and even secret rooms.

The Dengins were thrilled when NBC producers approached them last spring and asked them to contribute to the show "It's Worth What?"

"I guess reality hit when we got on the road to California and, driving our truck and pulling our trailer with our playhouse, people slowed down to take pictures; and really we were just stopping the traffic, you know?" Sergei Dengin said.

But the couple says the real reward is seeing children make magic in these family-made mini-mansions.

"Kids have such a desire to play and to create, and if you give them the proper tools and proper environment, they just go for it," Jennifer Dengin said. "It's amazing to see what can happen."

Email: bwalker@ksl.com

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