Behind The Scene Secrets Of HGTV’s Fixer Upper
When Fixer Upper finished its final season in May 2018, thousands of fans mourned the loss. Throughout the show’s five-year run, Chip and Joanna renovated over 100 homes with a joyful attitude.
Although fans enjoyed what was on screen, few knew what was happening off-screen. Behind the camera, the Gaines didn’t like all clients, and the team encountered legal struggles over a gate. These untold truths about Fixer Upper will make you do a double-take.
Participants Rarely Meet Chip And Joanna
During an interview with Country Living, Season 3 participant Rachel Whyte said that she only met Chip and Joanna twice. The first was on real estate day, and the second was during their design meeting. In the meantime, they texted each other.
After her conversation with the Ermoian family, blogger Rachel Teodoro claimed that the Gaines used to meet with their participants more often. But as the show gained popularity, their line of contact became thinner and sparse.
Most Conversations Are Real
Beyond the staged house-hunting scenes, most of the show is genuine. In an interview with Country Living, Season 3 client Rachel Whyte explained that “what happens really is real.” Occasionally, the producers will ask people to repeat something they said.
“The hard thing is remembering what you said before when asked to repeat it,” Rachel said. She added that Chip and Joanna showed them two other homes, despite them being “pretty set” on which one they would choose. So parts of those scenes are authentic.
The Hosts Honor Their Participants’ Wishes
Although the designers and participants spoke over text, the Gaines paid particular attention to what their clients wanted. Lindy Ermoian happily revealed that she had more control over the design than she thought they would.
According to participant Rachel Whyte, Joanna asks her clients for a Pinterest board so she can explore their personal style. “They really [went with] the concept,” Rachel said. She added that she “fully trusted” Chip and Joanna to do a great job.
The Gaines Didn’t Like Some Homeowners
Although Chip and Joanna act kind and giving to each client, they don’t enjoy everyone. During a Facebook Live interview, Chip revealed that some projects “didn’t go as expected” and resulted in “inappropriate thoughts about the homeowners.”
On top of that, the Gaines have expressed some frustration about former participants renting their renovated homes. They claimed that after some homeowners put their houses on the market, they made the application “more strict” to not appeal to “this new vacation trend.”
Chip Feels THat He Lost Apart Of Himself When He Became Famous
In a sit-down interview with Oprah in March 2021, Chip Gaines admitted that he initially struggled with newfound fame when Fixer Upper became a hit show and felt that he lost apart of himself. He quickly expressed his gratitude to his wife for helping him through it.
In the interview with Oprah, Chip said: “Really what happened… and was the truth for Jo and I… was it was no big deal for her, but for me to become famous, I lost a part of myself that was really… it was sad. I would say it took me a year or two while I was still filming to try to grapple with what exactly it was that I was losing.”
Chip Got Sued Over A Gate
In 2016, Chip Gaines got into a legal battle over a metal gate. The Gaines’ downtown property, Magnolia Market at the Silos, has an alleyway that doesn’t belong to them. When that alleyway switched owners, the new company wanted to charge $10 for visitors to park.
Unable to reach a compromise, Chip put up a metal gate, which his lawyer says was meant to protect their business. Still, the company sued Chip for $1 million. The case was later dismissed.
Chip Bought Out Magnolia
Before Fixer Upper began, the Gaines didn’t fully own Magnolia. They partially owned the company, but after HGTV approached them with the show, they fully bought the company. This didn’t sit well with their former partners, John Lewis and Richard Clark, who filed sued Chip for not telling them about the TV show.
In an interview with People, Lewis said that after Chip bought the company, he never heard from the Fixer Upper star again. However, Chip’s lawyer calls their claims “meritless” and wonders why they didn’t contact Chip earlier.
Families Have To Accept Designs That They Don’t Like
Throughout the renovations, Chip and Joanna do their best to create something that the families appreciate. But in the show’s application, one section says that participants must accept the design team’s choices, even if they don’t approve of them.
“Are you willing to trust the Design Team to make decisions and changes to your house, on your behalf, often without consulting you?” the application reads. To become a participant on the show, one has to accept that they won’t have a hand in every choice.
Chip Doesn’t Do Much Work
Although it seems like Chip Gaines helps with manual labor, that’s only when the cameras are rolling. In an interview with the blogger Rachel Teodoro, the Ermoian family of Season 2 said that they rarely saw Chip on set.
According to them, participants aren’t supposed to see the home in progress, but they were staying right next door and couldn’t avoid it. When they glanced at the house, Lindy and Chris Ermoian never once saw Chip.
Clients Can Keep Some Handmade Items
Although participants can’t keep all the furniture, they can keep any custom work designed by Clint, according to Rachel Whyte. For instance, the Ermoian family received Clint’s handmade rolling bar as a gift after the show.
If the designers make handcrafted items, the participants can buy them at a discount. After the renovations finish, participants receive a spreadsheet of discounted furniture for around $75. If clients have the budget for new furniture, they’ll get a deal!
They Sometimes Go Over Budget
Although the team establishes a budget before the camera rolls, these are all estimates. Joanna and Chip stick to the budget 78% of the time, according to Architectural Digest. They exceed the budget in 15% of cases and only remain under budget in 7% of renovations.
While the Gaines sometimes go over budget, they do a remarkably great job at sticking to the clients’ budget. It’s no wonder that the minimum is $30,000, according to the contract.
Joanna Never Studied Interior Design
During an interview with Glamour, Joanna revealed that she has no interior design background. In college, she majored in communications, and she aimed to open a boutique later in life. Her first experience with design was during her first home project.
“We found this little fixer-upper building and tackled that project together in the first year of marriage,” Joanna said. “I sold a bunch of products that would go in a home.” After the show began, she got a lot more design experience.
The Gaines Don’t Own A TV
Despite being TV stars, the Gaines don’t own a television. They explained that 12 years ago, a pre-marital counselor challenged Chip and Joanna to live without a TV for the first six months of marriage. They haven’t owned one since.
That said, they still watch their show. Joanna said that when a new episode comes on, they watch it at their friends’ house. “I am so funny,” Chip joked. “Like, I can see why people watch this.”
The Gaines Land Some Deals
Although the renovation budget often exceeds $300,000, the Gaines still land some construction deals. According to the Ermoian family, the hosts got discounts on roofing and other construction costs.
On top of that, participants receive discounts on Magnolia furniture. Although the furniture isn’t included in the renovation budget, the participants can purchase some afterward for a lower price. The team continues to help the family after the episode ends as well, where they find even more deals.
The Remodeling Takes Very Little Time
On average, most full home renovations take up to a full year. But with a tight TV show timeline, Chip and Joanna manage to finish the home within a couple of months. In the Ermoian’s case, construction began in July and finished in October.
While the Gaines manage a surprisingly fast turnaround time, they still run into issues. According to Architectural Digest, the team reports a problem during half of their renovations, and these cost $4,600 on average.
Some Tender Moments Don’t Make The Cut
It goes without saying that many moments won’t make the final cut. But surprisingly, some tender and significant moments for the clients did not appear in the episode. Chris and Lindy Ermoian recalled one of these moments.
During their Season 2 renovation, the Ermoians received a music and art room. When they entered the room, Chris played a song that he wrote for his wife. Oddly, this emotional moment did not make the final cut, but you can find the song “Lighthouse” online.
The House Isn’t Worth Much More Afterward
Viewers may believe that the homes are worth far more after the renovation. But overall, they don’t pull in much more value. On average, a Fixer Upper home gains $26,036 in value. That’s only 25% of the renovation cost.
This is also below the national average, according to Remodeling’s Cost Vs. Value 2018 report. The $26,000 addition usually comes from the addition of one bathroom, not a full remodel. However, some owners make more money by renting their homes.