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HGTV's 'Property Brothers': Any home can be fixed

Drew and Jonathan Scott

To say that Drew and Jonathan Scott, hosts of the popular HGTV show “Property Brothers,” are up to their ears in sawdust would be an understatement. Their goal? To show home buyers that their dream home is one swing of the sledgehammer away — if they can visualize how a dated disaster can be transformed into a customized jaw-dropper. Once real estate agent Drew secures a property, it's up to his brother Jonathan, the patron saint of renovations, to outline a plan of attack based on actual time and budget constraints. Armed with realistic — not to mention, optimistic — attitudes and 3-D software, the brothers get to show their clients exactly how their space will look when the renovations are complete. Overwhelming emotions, stress and the unexpected surprise lurking behind a wall are all part of the game, although it's the big reveal at the end of each episode that proves these fixer-uppers were worth all the blood, sweat and tears.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012, 8:57 p.m.

Question: The guests on your show aren't exactly jumping for joy at the prospect of investing in a fixer-upper. What is it about home renovations that turn people off?

Jonathan: I'd have to say the fact that most people don't have the creative ability to see the potential in a property. We actually came up with a drinking game for every time someone on the show says, “I hate the paint, I don't want this place.” That's why we just try to show people the vision using the 3-D software. Any house can be fixed; any problem can be fixed. You just have to decide whether it's financially reasonable to do it.

Q: How realistic are first-time home buyers about being able to get what they want within their budget?

Drew: Isn't first-time home buyers and realistic an oxymoron? No, they just see a lot of shows showing dream properties, and this is what they want.

Jonathan: That's the thing, too with shows like ours; people are watching HGTV all the time, and it's sort of a double-edged blade. It makes people think they're an expert on everything. Most of the people on our show have never seen it before. We really find education is the most important thing.

Q: How do you feel about the old adage that you can't lose when you invest in the worst house on the best street?

Drew: That's definitely not true. We see it time and time again that people think they're going to get the ugly house on the block and turn it around and make it a great investment. But they don't have a proper inspection done and may find major issues like mold or termite damage and find it's such a cost.

Jonathan: We learned a lot of lessons along the way. One: Never to over-renovate. We soon realized that a lot of the decisions we were making meant putting in more money that we would ever get back. Another thing we learned: When the seller says, “I did the whole thing myself.” Oh, my goodness, that was the worst house I had ever seen.

Q: So, do people tend to overdo it on DIY, thanks to all of the home-improvement shows on nowadays?

Jonathan: If something is outside of your knowledge and your comfort level, do not do it. If something goes wrong, it's going to cost you more. If you're doing painting and trim work and laminate flooring, those are great projects to take on your own. But leave the plumbing and electric and major things to the professionals.

Drew: People want to DIY, which is fine, but they're not valuing their time and money on the project. It might have taken a person a week to put in a tile floor that it took a professional one day to do.

Q: Any words of wisdom for homeowners up to their ears in sawdust?

Jonathan: The big thing is that people say they brought on a contractor and he turned out to be a fly-by-night guy. Do your research, get three contractors to give you estimates and get it all in writing. Confirm that they're associated with reputable organizations. Make sure that they're licensed, but remember that just because they're licensed, does not mean they are good at what they do. If you get that red-flag feeling at all, there's a reason for that.

Drew: If someone says I've been in the business for 30, 40 years — that doesn't mean that they know what they're doing. I know quality work as soon as I walk in. I'll walk in and, 20 feet away, I'll see something. And the homeowner will be walking around and think it's such professional work. So, that's a good thing — I can pick out things that weren't done right. So, when I go into a home, I can negotiate to bring the price of a home down.

Q: Is it true that if a relationship can survive a home reno, it can survive anything?

Drew: Renovations are one of the most stressful things we've seen on relationships. Homeowners often say they want to save money and live through the renos, and that's why we're there. We're trying to de-stress the homeowners. We take the job seriously, but we don't take ourselves too seriously.

Jonathan: If you're not enjoying the process, then you shouldn't be renovating or don't have the right professionals in the process. We want to make sure these folks have a good time doing it.

Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8515 or

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