Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

New show tackles ‘un-sexy’ but essential home repairs
By RACHEL SA, Special to QMI Agency

Kristi Hansen - certified tradesman, plumber and Class B gasfitter, and the host of Homewreckers on W Network.

If you’re a homeowner who values pretty over practical, you’re in for a rude awakening when you tune into W Network’s new series, Homewreckers.

“This show isn’t about making things pretty with plants and candles and new couches,” says host Kristi Hansen. “This is about knuckling down and correcting dangerous situations. Everything else can wait.’

Hansen breaks the mold of the typical contractor. With 19 years of experience as a tradesman, plumber and Class B gasfitter, she can wield a sledgehammer with the big boys. Now, in another departure from the norm, the mother of two hopes Homewreckers gets Canadians paying attention to “the un-sexiest zones of the house.”

“Sexy stuff is boring,” Hansen says, laughing. “It’s too easy to focus on design elements. That’s what gets people in trouble.”

In the premiere episode, Hansen meets Candice and Guy, a couple who re-mortgaged their home and spent $22,000 to create a dream kitchen. With stainless steel appliances, sleek cupboards and a shiny backsplash, the kitchen does look sharp. Meanwhile, the couple’s roof has rotted to mush and their deck is ready to collapse – possibly taking the house down with it.

What started as a leak that could have been repaired with a $30 patch job has mushroomed into a $15,000 repair.

“It’s insane what people will live with,” Hansen tells QMI Agency. “Of course people want to have a nice space. We all do. But what’s the point of that beautiful space if the structure is falling down around you?”

Hansen aims to showcase the essential fixes, and not hide them.

“You have to see the repair, see the restored integrity, so that you can see it is a job well done,” she says.

“I have to keep viewers on track and keep reminding everyone that, yes, it’s great that it looks pretty after we’re done with it,” she says. “But the pretty stuff is what I’m least excited about. I’m excited knowing that everything behind those walls and under that floor is in top-notch condition.”

At a recent work site, Hansen encountered a family who’d opted to repair out-of-date wiring on the first floor of their house, while leaving light fixtures that sparked on the second floor.

“They just shut the door and ignored it!”

What causes a homeowner to ignore a serious problem in favour of the cosmetic and frivolous? Inertia plays a role.

“When people freeze up and they don’t know how to fix a problem, they put blinders on,” Hansen says. That’s how problems fester, growing more serious, more complicated and, inevitably, more expensive to correct.

Money is another barrier. Many people balk at the thought of paying a lot for repairs that don’t result in that big “reveal.”

“Homeowners want instant gratification,” says Hansen. “When the job is done, people say: ‘Nothing looks different! I still have the same crappy carpet, I still have the same lame kitchen.”

In tough economic times, too many homeowners try to take on complex jobs themselves.

“If you think doing it yourself or getting friends in to help you or – worst of all – ignoring it is going to keep your costs down, think again,” Hansen warns.

She hopes Homewreckers will empower homeowners to make the right decisions to repair and maintain their homes. But she also hopes to deliver a message: “You can’t do it all and you’re not supposed to know how to do it all. That’s okay. That’s what qualified tradespeople are for.”

Homewreckers premieres Tuesday, March 22 at 8:30 p.m. on the W Network.

Renovation archive

What do you think is a reasonable price for a kitchen renovation?
$10, 000
$25, 000
$50, 000
$100, 000