Rules Property Brothers contestants have to follow
Property Brothers‘ Jonathan and Drew Scott have got to be some of the busiest people on the planet. Between their multiple — and wildly successful — HGTV series, their Scott Living home line, tons of appearances and interviews, and a burgeoning music career, the pair stay on the go. Entrepreneur reported that the twins made upwards of half a billion dollars in sales in 2018 across all of their endeavors.
Their empire started with their very first reality show, Property Brothers. According to the hilarious pair, when they initially pitched the project, an executive at the production company said, “Two young hot guys in tight jeans, renovating? Sold” (via Entrepreneur). While they now have myriad of spinoffs from the original show and their own production company, Property Brothers remains extremely popular. Hordes of fans clamor to get a shot at not only stardom but a new home, designed and renovated by the mega-famous Scott brothers.
While the participants across the past seasons of Property Brothers may have made it look easy, there is actually a long checklist of rules one has to meet in order to even be considered. Here’s a peek into what it takes to get a shot at Property Brothers stardom.
You must be part of a duo
First things first. If you are thinking about trying out to be a cast member on Property Brothers, there is absolutely no use applying unless you are a part of a dynamic duo. According to Reader’s Digest in the Scott brothers’ memoir, It Takes Two: Our Story, they say, “You don’t have to be a married couple to get on the show, but if you’re single, you need to have a likable sidekick such as a best friend or relative so there’s someone to discuss your decisions with.”
The twin brothers presumably need cast members that can keep up with their cheeky, rapid-fire back and forth but also need the participants to have some real debate and conversation in going through the buying and renovating process together. For a season filmed in Las Vegas, a lengthy application for participants said that sidekicks can be a “spouse, partner, family member, friend, etc.” It is a requirement to fill out information about yourself and your sidekick.
So before you start filling out that application, make sure you have a special someone in mind to take with you.
You need to have a renovation budget of $90k or more
It is key that potential cast members be searching for a new place to live. In addition to having some money stashed away for a home buying budget, there also has to be a pretty substantial home makeover budget in order. According to one casting application, for the production to even consider a candidate for the show, there have to have at least a $90,000 budget for renovation and design work.
While a $90,000 budget is certainly not a small amount, the brothers say that participants are getting major bang for their buck when working with them. In a Facebook Live broadcast, Property Brother Jonathan Scott explained to a fan, “You would probably never be able to renovate for the same price that we do on our shows because anytime we get a wholesale price we pass that savings along to the homeowner.” So if you are lucky enough to make it on the show and you’ve got the money saved up, you are likely going to get more out of working with Property Brothers than you would elsewhere.
Get that funding set up
On the topic of budgets, applicants should be prepared to prove to the show that they have all of their funding ready in order to even be considered. So, there is zero point in applying if you don’t have serious plans in motion to buy a house. On the required application, they want to know what the housing purchase budget is, what the renovation budget is (with a $90k minimum), and if you are pre-approved for a mortgage and the details of that mortgage.
While that may sound like a ton of information to provide and a lot of legwork to get everything in order, the production clearly wants to make sure all your ducks are in a row for a really solid reason. A footnote on the application explains, “Our team will require proof of funds to avoid any delays and to stay on production schedule.” They want to make sure cast members are really invested in the process, so, if you want to be cast in the show, you have to be prepared to prove to them that you are ready to go.
It's important to prepare for contingencies
Renovating a house is hard work, and, as seen on home improvement shows all the time, it never seems to go as smoothly as expected. Knowing that potential cast members have a little extra cash on hand in these instances is key to getting chosen.
Issues like bad wiring, uneven floors, or even a leaky roof can derail a schedule or, as in one case, get an episode canceled entirely. According to TV Guide, last year at the Television Critics Association press tour, Property Brother Drew Scott gave an example of an episode that hit the cutting room floor. When they hit a snag with a home that needed renovation because of sinking floors, he said the cast member “wanted Jonathan to cheap out and said… level the floor,” instead of taking the proper precautions.
Because there will inevitably be unforeseen issues with big projects, production wants to ensure there are funds beyond the $90,000 budget, just in case. On one application, they asked aspiring cast members, “Accounting for unexpected renovation surprises or increased scope of work — what is your maximum budget?” Clearly, they want to know that contingencies can be covered.
You have to be living in or moving to the city where they're filming
The Property Brothers are known to move around from town to town from season to season. While they originally hail from Canada and started their massively successful show on their home turf, in an interview with Fast Company, Drew Scott revealed they now film everywhere from Atlanta to Nashville to Las Vegas.
According to the HGTV list of rules for casting, in order to even be considered for the show, you must be either living in the city they will be filming in or must be planning to move there in the very near future.
In a Q&A, the Scott brothers gave an example of their geographic casting calls, saying, “If you live … we’re mainly doing the Westchester area … but, if you guys are looking to buy a house and renovate, you can apply.” They also said they make announcements about casting via their social media.
Keep your eyes peeled to the Property Brothers’ Facebook to see if they might be coming to your city or one you’d like to move to.
You have to trust Jonathan and Drew
Even if you are lucky enough to make it on the show, there are rules once you are there. With countless hours of show footage and years of experience, the Property Brothers have proven that they know what they are doing. They even have their very own Property Brothers Glossary of Design Terms!
Though they are experts in their field, they understand that renovating a house is a stressful experience. But to be on the show, it is a prerequisite that participants trust their advice. According to Country Living, at an HGTV Magazine launch party for the brothers’ memoir, It Takes Two: Our Story, Drew Scott said, “You’re bringing us in as professionals. This is what we do day in and day out, you have to trust us.”
There could be serious consequences if there is a lack of trust as evidenced by the fact that one cast member found his episode cut. According to TV Guide, the brothers and a homeowner had “irreconcilable differences,” and they had to abandon everything they filmed. That episode never saw the light of day.
You need this availability to make it on the show
Property Brothers is known for renovating homes very quickly. In an interview with Country Living, Property Brother Drew Scott even addressed the accusation that the renovations are unrealistically fast, stating, “Well obviously that’s TV. Even though we do finish fast — we finish in eight weeks outside of the show because we get expedited timelines from being the first in line for permits and everything else — that same project might take 13 weeks.”
According to contestant eligibility requirements, the renovation process is expected to take seven to eight weeks, and, over the course of that timeline, cast members are required to be available for seven to ten days for shooting.
While the application asks if potential participants are flexible and available for the entirety of filming, as well as the casting selection process, the brothers also understand that people have lives and jobs and need advance notice of what their schedules are going to look like. In Nashville cast member Carson Padgett’s case, the production worked out a schedule with her that did not interfere with her job as manager of pharmacy inpatient clinical operations at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Don't expect every room to get a makeover
Since each episode of Property Brothers is relatively short, coming in at roughly 40 minutes, not every single thing that happens over the course of the process makes it to the screen. In fact, they typically only show three to four of the renovated rooms in each episode due to time and budgetary restrictions.
Contrary to what is seen on screen and rumors that circulate about how the show works, Jonathan and Drew Scott sometimes actually do overhaul the homeowner’s entire house. In a fan-driven Q&A, Property Brother Drew shared a little behind-the-scenes secret with his nearly 1 million Twitter followers, “So when you’re watching Property Brothers, the budget and timeline that you see are just for the three to four rooms that we show you.” He went on to say, “We typically do renovate the entire house but there is a separate budget and timeline for the other areas.” Renovating an entire house with the budgets they require would be tough, he noted.
You need to be a quick decision maker
With abbreviated production and renovation schedules, there are tight timelines. There’s no use dilly-dallying and waiting for participants to hem and haw over every decision. It is considered an eligibility requirement to “be able to make quick decisions in order to keep tight timelines.” Since another requirement is that cast members should trust the brothers, it can be in the cast members’ best interest to keep to that rule and make quick choices when they are offered options.
According to cast member Carson Padgett, she wasn’t let in on many decisions in the first place. She reportedly “shared her makeover ideas with the hosts Drew and Jonathan, of course, but the only thing the brothers allowed her to monitor was the budget.”
If you trust them, it seems there are fewer decisions to make. She shared, “I did think I would have a little more say with how things ended up, but I think part of it is because I knew exactly what I wanted, and they were like, ‘Why do you need us if you know what you want?'”
It helps to have a compelling story
The Property Brothers are a dynamic duo known for their lightning-fast humor and hilarious quips. In order to fit the bill as a participant, potential cast members might have a way better chance if they themselves are dynamic, interesting, and talkative.
Many of the questions on the incredibly thorough application for Property Brothers Season 7 in Las Vegas delved into what kind of people the prospective cast members were. The Brothers wanted to know about personalities, quirks, hobbies, and interests — even any differing opinions the applying duo held. They asked for information about what made the applicants unique, saying, “For example, you’re jokers, you love musical theatre, you like to play pranks on each other, etc.”
In addition, it may be helpful to have a really compelling story. According to the Tennessean, cast member Maureen Beaver applied to appear on the Property Brothers after tragedy struck when her husband passed away unexpectedly. After picking her father as the other half of her duo, producers reached out to set up a web conversation within hours of filling out her application, and she was cast shortly afterwards.
Just be yourself
The Scott Brothers are known for being themselves. Though they might have aspirations towards other things like acting and magic, we know Drew as the suit-donning real estate guru and Jonathan as the flannel shirt-wearing, knee-deep-in-elbow-grease contractor.
When they are looking for potential cast members, they are not looking for actors. As Drew said in one Q&A, “We just want homeowners to be themselves. We don’t want any acting. Just literally be yourself.” He went on to explain that sometimes homeowners will have fake reactions, and they’ll have to stop filming because of it. He said, “We’re buying a house. There’s no acting.”
Cast member Carson Padgett let viewers in on what happened behind-the scenes, telling Vanderbilt University Medical Center publication The Voice, “A lot of people wonder if all the surprises, and the terrible news you get during the process, they think — that can’t all be true, but it really is. They kept me in the dark about things that were going on, so when I found out about the additional costs, on-camera is when I found out.”
You may have to recreate a scene
Even though Property Brothers is technically “reality television,” the cameras don’t always catch every moment needed and scenes sometimes have to be recreated. Drew and Jonathan Scott have done their fair share of re-reacting on screen. According to The New York Times, Drew once pretended to warn the workers on set that there was danger of wind when in reality the damage from wind occurred the day prior.
While the Property Brothers make clear they don’t want participants acting, accidents happen and participants may have to recreate a scene. And, as Drew put it, “At the end of the day, it has to be interesting television.”
Sometimes they’ll even have to redo a scene because the participants were overacting. Jonathan explained in a Q&A, “We will walk in and it will be this ugly, ugly carpet or something, like terrible carpet and they’ll be like, ‘Yeah, that’s not so bad actually! I could see myself getting along with that!’ And we’re like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And they’re like, ‘Oh! We thought you wanted us to like it!'”
It is a delicate balance between not acting and making great television, for sure.
You can't live at home during the renovation
Because of the extremely quick turnaround time and massive overhauls that the homes undergo during the renovations, Property Brothers requires cast members to find somewhere else to live for the duration of the process. On the application, they ask where participants plan on living during the renovation of the fixer-upper, stating, “Participants are required to live elsewhere during renovations due to safety, health & scheduling reasons.” Production wants to know that potential cast members have a plan.
In cast member Carson Padgett’s case, it took a full eight weeks to overhaul her new place. Since, for obvious reasons, she couldn’t live at home at that time, she decided to move in with her friend and fellow castmate for the duration of the process. According to the Tennessean, participant Maureen Beaver lived with her son and parents at the home she was selling during the renovation.
In addition to the rules regarding safety, health, and scheduling, it is also worth noting that, since participants are not allowed to see what the house looks like while the brothers work on it, they cannot live at home during the process.
You can't see the house until it's finished
No peeking! Patience is key for cast members that make it on the series. As excruciating as it may be, Jonathan and Drew Scott are adamant that the final reveal is just that — an actual reveal. While it is totally natural to be curious and want to drive by and check on updates to the home, it is a major no-no to show up before the series is ready for participants to see their updated digs.
Since one of the main rules is that cast members be themselves, production doesn’t want folks acting for that big reveal. Former cast member Carson Padgett said, “Knowing they were gutting the house I just bought, and I couldn’t see it — and I had no control over what was happening — oh my gosh, it was a stressful process for me.”
She simply had to trust the brothers and wait until the very end for the final reveal to lay her eyes on how Property Brothers had transformed her new home.
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