June 28, 2012
Behind the HGTV scenes at Jim Caruk’s renos
While “the big reveal” remains a centrepiece on home-renovation shows, there’s considerable time and toiling that occurs behind the scenes to refurbish and transform spaces featured on the air. Longtime contractor Jim Caruk and his team offer an insider perspective of the pinnacles and pitfalls of home construction on Builder Boss which premiered Thursday on HGTV.
“We want [viewers] to understand the building process because it’s a huge industry; and I think over the last 10, 12 years it’s even gotten bigger with all these shows that are coming out. But what isn’t shown on some of these different shows is the actual time element,” Caruk said in a recent interview.
“We blow this thing off in 22 minutes, but it’s taken us a year to build — and people don’t get that concept. And if they don’t understand what they’re going to get themselves into — if they’re going to renovate their home — it’s going to be a disaster.” Caruk filmed seven seasons of HGTV’s Real Renos and said Builder Boss takes the previous series to the next level. The show features 13 new builds —nearly double what Caruk and his team would take on in a typical year.
“Needless to say, it was not only exciting, but it was definitely gruelling, punishing — everything else to go along with that,” said the owner of The Caruk Group. “Our goal is … to bring the audience back and take them through the day in the life of a custom builder and show them the real stress and the make-and-break moments of the whole industry. As I like to say, it’s time, money and emotion — they don’t go well together.”
The series debut featured the massive construction of a luxurious, 4,500 square-foot Georgian-style mansion that Caruk estimates will be worth $2.5 million upon completion. The project has a timeline of 10 to 12 months. After demolishing an old bungalow and excavating for a new foundation, viewers get an up-close view of key steps in the meticulous process, from the building the basement walls on up. But as the episode unfolds, it becomes apparent the large-scale project isn’t immune from potential hiccups.
Builder Boss returns on June 28 with back-to-back episodes, including one with a personal connection to Caruk. He offers to assist his friend, Dave, who wants to get his hair salon business up and running. But first, he must revamp an old Victorian home which doubles as a workspace and living space. Caruk and his team find themselves working on a tight budget and a tight turnaround time of three months for the build.
Future projects set to be featured on Builder Boss include a Charleston-style porch with garden and an underground bunker created to house a golf simulator. For those building a new house, Caruk said the hardest task is “getting out of the hole” — namely, the digging and excavation. Rain can delay the start of the process for several days, and even when the conditions clear up, mud impedes workers from beginning the task — something which homeowners may not be aware of.
“Just because the rain stops, the sun comes out, you can’t phone me and say, ‘Get back in that hole and let’s get going.’ It doesn’t work that way. So those are the things that I walk them through. “There are going to be days that no one’s going to be there. That’s just the way the business works. If we’re waiting for a subtrade, he can’t get there right away — then we have to wait.” Caruk said it’s also key for homeowners to determine early on if they plan to take care of selecting all the finishings or if they’ll need help in sourcing the products.
“If you can afford to have a designer, even a decorator, just to help move through the process of picking the colours or tiles three, four months in advance, this thing will move along very quickly.”
This week’s featured plan showcases a one-level home with two bedrooms and a hipped roof. It includes a large master suite, a media room and a kitchen that opens to the main living area. Check it out — and a host of other plans, ranging from cottage to contemporary — on the website houseplans.com. Reference identification number HMAFAPW00593.