Before there were 75 different iterations of Property Brothers shows was a dark time when home improvement fixes came solely from weekly installments of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, starring the worst host in the history of hosting, Ty Pennington. If you didn’t get to live through the mad years of Home Edition, consider yourself lucky, but also brace yourself: because Pennington is back for vengeance in a new series from HGTV, Ty Breaker.
Though Pennington is something of the Guy Fieri of home renovation shows, he has been notably absent from the sacred space of home renovation reality since the demise of Home Edition and his other popular show, Trading Spaces. In this new series, Variety reports Pennington is back to “help families in need decide whether to overhaul their current property or renovate a new one.” Astounding that Pennington would be allowed within ten feet of any family in need considering the outlandish homes he designed and project managed on Home Edition resulted in several families being left homeless.
The major flaw with Home Edition was the gap between what participants needed and what the unhinged Pennington wanted to give them. He would run amuck on a small manageable home and convert it overnight into a behemoth with themed rooms, living rooms built to look like movie theaters, and backyards that could double as amusement parks. But once the big bus rolled away and the volunteer builders returned to their lives, homeowners were left footing the bill for property taxes, utilities, and mortgages—things they were struggling to pay before Pennington came in and turned the kids’ room into an elephant safari with a mattress. One woman’s home was foreclosed on nine years after her makeover when the mortgage ballooned from $30,000 to $113,000.
It makes little sense why HGTV, a network that has more home reno stars than they know what to do with, would take back Pennington, a man marked by his hideous over the top designs and a dark past littered with tears and foreclosures. But considering that HGTV also has a similarly thoughtless history to ABC, the network that broadcast Pennington’s original show, the decision isn’t completely out of character. According to Country Living the HGTV Dream Home, which is raffled away every year (and that I’ve entered to try and win twice) often has the same nightmarish effect as Pennington’s made-over homes on recipients.
“Of the 21 people who’ve won Dream Homes over the years, only six, or about 28 percent, actually lived in their home for more than a year,” Country Living reported in 2018. “The vast majority either took the cash alternative or sold the house back to the developer within a year of winning.” Why would someone turn down an expertly designed “urban oasis” planted in the woodlands of Montana? Taxes! The property taxes alone on any one of the Dream Houses could bankrupt a family, as it nearly did in 2005 when that year’s winner ended up $430,000 in debt after moving his family to Texas to turn the home into a bed and breakfast, which they were unable to do because of zoning restrictions. The financial strain was compounded when the family had to borrow against the house to pay for cancer treatments.
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Before the housing market collapsed in 2008, Dream Home winners would be flown out to the location of the home and given a Winner’s Weekend which involved hotel stay, house tours, and meals all on HGTV’s dime. Homeowners were then given an option to live in the home for 12 months with the financial responsibility resting with the home’s builders. If the family wanted out, they sold it back to the builders. But now, the option is to take the house (and the car if applicable) or take a lump sum payout, which is of lesser value. The house goes on the market and HGTV turns a profit when it sells to someone who could afford it.
Dreams really do come true if you just build them yourself!