courtesy of Edward Andrews Homes
Fox’s new series Home Free, shot around metro Atlanta and hosted by Mike Holmes of Holmes on Homes fame, is the ultimate mind game. Nine couples compete to win their dream home by renovating eight fixer uppers for deserving families. What the participants don’t know is that the “deserving families” are the contestants themselves. In the first episode, which aired back in July, Holmes tips off viewers that all nine duos will actually win a house. The emotional reaction when he gives a house to the first “losers”—once the film crew’s truck pulls away, hauling everyone else to the next work site—is enough to make you believe reality TV is real.
And what of the ninth house, you ask? Turns out it’s a five-bedroom, mid-$400s beauty built in Cumming by Edward Andrews Homes. The twist is that the final two couples compete to win another, somewhat smaller Edward Andrews Home (yep, a paltry $337,000ish home in Buford), unaware that each will win a new house. However, this round is nothing like earlier episodes’ cement pours, demolition, and roofing jobs. To win a brand new house, the couples visit the Edward Andrews design center and select finishes and fixtures to complete the home’s décor. Who gets which house? Well, you’ll just have to watch tomorrow night at 9 p.m.
“We talked to builders who’d done extreme makeover shows, and they warned us of problems,” says Caroline Simmel, senior vice president of marketing. “But we had a really good experience.” The producers were so impressed by the builder’s state-of-the-art design center that they decided to incorporate it into the contest, says Simmel.
Edward Andrews has expanded from building only a dozen or so houses in 2011 to building more than 14 metro communities now, including some nine new townhouse communities slated for 2016. To serve today’s re-energized housing market, they created a unique design center that relies heavily on technology. Before the buyers’ first appointment, they take design quizzes modeled after Myers-Briggs personality tests, which help the staff narrow the options. Product samples are displayed on series of pocket doors to avoid the visual overload of endless vignettes. In fact, with its high-beamed ceiling and wooden tables, the center looks more like a cozy restaurant than a home products showroom. As buyers choose products and layouts, their selections are loaded into 3-D modeling software, providing accurate visuals before the builder ever breaks ground on their home.
“Atlanta was always a spec home market,” says Simmel. “We wanted to show that home building is back, but it’s changed. We asked ourselves if Steve Jobs were in the home-building business, what would he do?”