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Evergreen Magazine

Home Renovation: Helpers or Hosts?

Karl Solano

            Home renovation T.V. shows are being filmed across the globe as people are trying to ensure the natural beauty of historic homes. Whether it be a complete remodel, or picking certain rooms based on a budget, these shows are filmed to highlight the celebrities and ‘their’ special talents, rather than the work. But recently, there has been one main question about these shows- do the hosts of these shows actually do the work, or do they contract companies and individuals out to do the work for them? 

            Many popular channels include HGTV (Home and Garden Television), DIY Network, A+E Network, and the Travel Channel. Considering HGTV is the most popular when it comes to browsing for a remodel show, the most well-known shows on the channel are Fixer Upper, Hometown, Property Brothers, Love It or List It, Fixer to Fabulous, and Flip or Flop. Each of these shows features either a celebrity couple, sibling duo, or group in which everyone brings their own ‘talents’ to the table. 

            Most of these T.V. series start out with the couple or family who is looking to purchase a home to tailor to their own interests. Most times, they tour homes to find which house will suit their needs. Typically, about 1-3 of them are filmed to show the audience the options, as well as why the home the couple chose is perfect for them. 

            The show Fixer Upper, for example, features Chip and Joanna (Jo) Gaine. Chip does the demolition, the installation of the new features, and landscape, while Jo does the exterior drawings, digital floorplans, and interior design and staging of the home. The next stage after finding the home is to determine which parts of the home should be kept to preserve the historic features. Then, they do a ‘da ‘demo day’ where they start the demolition process.  

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            On camera, we see Chip tearing down walls, ripping out cabinetry, and pulling up flooring. In the background of the camera frame, several people help with the process. That raises the question: whether the hosts of these shows are doing the work, or if it is the team they have behind them? 

            Business Insider, a financial and business news company, writes on the secrets of Chip and Jo behind the camera. They interviewed architect Lindy Eroniman, who works with the couple. 

            Eroniman shared, “Although you often see Chip kicking down walls on ‘Fixer Upper,’ he apparently doesn’t do that much physical labor when the cameras stop rolling — at least not on the home’s exterior.” 

            Chip has a team of experts that he hired that each perform individualized tasks throughout the renovation period. Whether it be demolition contractors, roofers, painters, flooring companies, or landscape architects, each job is contracted out under his name. He does go to the site to ensure everything is on track each week, but most of the work you see is not necessarily done by him.  

            Jo on the other hand, does the interior design and digital artwork on her own. Most clients on the show claim to have been given a Pinterest board of inspiration that Jo creates for each home, according to Business Insider. During the staging the home process, Jo also partners with some interior decorators who bring in decor, rugs, furnishings, and materials that the homeowners can decide to purchase for an additional price. She also does incorporate some of her own home furnishings in the projects if it flows with the style, just to keep the cost down.  

            In addition to Fixer Upper, Hometown is a similar style T.V. show filmed in Laurel, Mississippi. The hosts are couple, Ben and Erin Napier. Their ultimate goal is to preserve the historic elements of their small town but bring the city back to life through their renovations. Most times, they do not change much of the exterior, but the inside is where the magic happens.  

            The couple has almost an identical process to Chip and Jo, as far as their roles in the remodels. However, Ben is a master carpenter and owns his own carpentry shop in Laurel. Naturally, he makes most of the furnishings that go into the house, tying in different elements that the buyer wants to highlight or preserve the original house design. In the shows, you can see him handpicking the wood from local stores or barns and turning it into a design that typically has never been done before. Ben takes the audience through the process and shows each step to complete the project. Due to his passion for the job, he takes pride in his work and shows that he is the one to do it, not another craftsman. 

            According to Southern Living, Ben and Erin complete most of the work on their renovations. 

            Perri Blumberg from the Southern Living staff stated, “While the homeowner pays for the house and renovations on ‘Hometown,’ Phillips said the Napier’s stayed within their budget and made the renovation affordable by doing much of the work themselves.”  

            But what if the show does not do the work themselves, and there is a problem? The New York Times recently published an article about the difficulties of home renovation show programs. The HGTV show, Fixer to Fabulous was sued in 2023. 

            Debra Kamin, author of the magazine article wrote, “In Las Vegas, Mindy and Paul King appeared on ‘Property Brothers’ in 2019 and are currently suing the production company that creates the program for HGTV for fraud, misrepresentation, and faulty workmanship, which they say left their home riddled with code violations as well as safety and health hazards.” 

            Fixer to Fabulous is just one of many shows that has been sued for similar disputes. Others include Rock the Block, Flip or Flop, Property Brothers, and the entirety of the Magnolia Channel. The channel is owned by Chip and Jo and is a collection of shows under their names and their business partners. The safety and structure of the home is much more important than the looks, views, and popularity of the show. They are paid to make sure these homes will last a lifetime. 

            Home renovation shows today are designed to highlight the successes of the famous hosts. It creates an impression on the viewers about their seemingly perfect life. Almost none of these shows include real work and effort from the hosts. Some shows, like Flip or Flop, focus in on the drama between the co-hosts, which creates a dramatic effect in a way, bringing in more viewers. While these shows are very entertaining to watch, the safety and health of the homeowners should be more important than the views gained from the shows. The work that is done on most home renovation shows is ultimately contracted out to different companies, resulting in occasional mishaps, excessive prices, and the hosts getting the most profit from the project in general.  

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About the Contributor
Olivia Power
Olivia Power, Reporter
Olivia Power is a junior, and this is her first year on the Evergreen Magazine Staff. She joined the staff because she was looking for something fun, new, and creative to do. Olivia also has a passion for her architecture class here at Sequoyah, which involves a lot of creativity as well. In her free time, you can find Olivia at softball, baking, or hanging out with her friends. 

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