If you fancy becoming one of those hammer-swinging, do-it-yourself home renovators on television, you’re in luck. The metro Atlanta area is coveted by producers for its rich variety of housing styles and neighborhoods.
What do casting directors look for?
“We like our clients—either people who are house hunting or in need of a home renovation—to have a sense of what they want,” yet still be flexible when it comes to, say, choosing an unusual paint color, says John Feld, senior vice president of programming at HGTV and DIY Network. These shows don’t want to feature white subway tile on every single episode.
If you’re submitting an application video or preparing for an interview, George Verschoor, executive producer of Fox’s Home Free, suggests thinking of your home as a story. “What makes you different from your neighbors to the left and right?” he says.
Just who pays for these renovations?
“It depends on the circumstances,” says Cartersville Realtor Bonnie Furey, who transformed a 1930s Tudor in southwest Atlanta with her husband, Drew, for the second season of HGTV’s Flipping Virgins. Furey says she fronted most of the costs for her home flip, so have a budget in mind when you apply to be on the show. Still, there can be perks: “As a gift to us for being [featured], they gave us all of the appliances,” she says. “And if there were any mistakes that were made, they would try to meet us in the middle. For instance, the contractor installed the wrong color cabinets. Instead of taking them out, the design team was able to come up with a new color, and HGTV paid for the painting.”
In a few lucky cases, the show will cover all expenses. “We often put more money—for the sake of television—than most people would put into a house,” says Verschoor. “It’s probably the nicest home on the block because it’s overbuilt.”
What happens if things go awry?
The internet does contain horror stories from homeowners who claim that their reality produced renovations were full of shoddy work and ill-conceived design plans. One Raleigh couple last year filed suit against HGTV’s Love It Or List It, alleging low-grade renovations performed on the show weren’t drawn up by a licensed architect and left their floor “irreparably damaged” and windows painted shut. But as long as the show uses licensed, professional contractors, then you have some legal protections. “If the rare issue arises, they’re responsible for making it right,” says Feld. “We’ll make sure of it.”
This article originally appeared in our May 2017 issue.