How it Really Works: Fixer Upper

Have you ever had questions while watching Fixer Upper? (I have: “Who do I need to sell my soul to to get on this show?”). We’ve all been in awe of Chip and Joanna’s fixes, but how exactly does the process work? There’s more to the flips than the 60 minutes show you, so we’re breaking down every step below.

Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV s Fixer Upper Chip and Joanna Gaines, hosts of HGTV's Fixer Upper. 08302015xPUB

Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV s Fixer Upper Chip and Joanna Gaines, hosts of HGTV’s Fixer Upper.

  • You have to apply.
    Homeowners featured on Fixer Upper have to go through an application process to be considered for the show and the home must be no more than 40 miles outside of Waco, TX.
  • You have to meet the budget.
    There’s a bit of a formula required by HGTV. Homeowners on the show must have a home with a purchase price under $200,000 and they require at least $30,000 worth of renovations. HGTV does not fund the renovations, but they do cover the cost of one bonus item and pay a talent fee to Chip & Joanna.
    If you thought that renovation budget seemed impossible for everything Chip and Joanna accomplished, that’s because the buyers are basically getting the renovations done at a cost.
  • Homeowners may already have their home.
    If the beginning scenes of house hunting seem phony to you, it’s because they might be. Sometimes the couple already owns their home or may have submitted an offer to purchase a home, even though it may seem like they are selecting from three options. Though this part of the show is sometimes staged, the property still has to meet the budget requirements set by HGTV.
  • Not every room is fixed or gutted, but the whole home does get a makeover.
    They may not “fix up” every room in the home, as some may just need a fresh coat of paint or re-staining, but the team does touch up every part of the house. They may not get the full Joanna Gaines treatment, but all the cosmetic updates are completed for the homeowner.
  • Some of the “issues” Chip and Joanna find may not be such a surprise to the homeowners.
    Once homebuyers submit an offer, they usually have a due diligence period, which is a period where the buyers have an opportunity to get a home inspection. The home inspection will note any issues with the home, from old batteries in a smoke detector to foundation or crawlspace issues. However, on occasion, the buyer and the seller may waive the due diligence period or the buyers may be buying the home as is (such as a foreclosure or auctioned property). While some issues appear to truly come to light during the flip, the homeowners may also have some knowledge of the underlying issues at the property.
  • Homeowners don’t get to keep the furnishings from Joanna, but they can purchase them.
    The finished home you see at the end of the episode is actually staging done by Joanna to show homeowners how they can utilize and maximize the new space. The budget set at the beginning of the episode is only for the flip, although some clients may give Joanna an additional budget for furniture. Many of the pieces are from her Magnolia collection and can be purchased by the homeowners (and us viewers!) although sometimes the finished reveal features some of the homeowners own furniture. Joanna does often gift a piece or two to the homeowners, which is often featured on the show.
  • That big reveal is essentially a billboard.
    The reveal at the end of the episode is real Chip Gaines ingenuity. He had a friend weld together the rolling frames and reached out to a friend at a billboard company to produce the canvas with a photo of the old home. The homeowners even get to keep the “before” canvas after filming! The walkthrough isn’t a quick showing either- according to one homeowner, filming the reveal takes all day!