In a sea of reality TV craziness filled with gossip, heartbreak and backstabbing, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was a breath of fresh air for viewers. The show gave struggling families a second chance to have the home of their dreams and gave the community an opportunity to come together to help make it happen.
But not everything behind the scenes was as perfect as it seemed on the surface. Ahead of the show’s reboot, check out some of the hidden facts about the show that the producers and host Ty Pennington don’t want you to know.
It Wasn't His First Rodeo
While Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was certainly the show that catapulted Ty Pennington and his team to fame, it wasn't the first taste of reality television for many of them. Pennington started his career as a model and went on to star in Trading Spaces.
Applying Is Harder Than It Looks
Based on what airs on the show, the application process for being selected seems as easy as pie. Simply send in an application, wait to be contacted and then bam! You're on the show. It turns out that making Extreme Makeover pie isn't as easy as all that.
Viewers of the show cry tears of joy as they watch families facing terrible and insurmountable obstacles given the precious gift of a newly renovated home. This emotional journey doesn't happen by chance, however.
People Faked Their Applications
With such intense competition for a spot on the show, it's no wonder that some people stretched the truth a bit to improve their chance of being selected. While crew members did perform background checks on the applicants to try to mitigate this, they weren't always successful at detecting the fraud.
The Show Didn't Solve All Problems
The families selected to get renovated homes on the show were usually struggling with some pretty significant issues before Pennington and his team came along. Although the show was able to give them a fixed-up house, it couldn’t fix all the problems the families were facing.
"Free" Isn't What It Used to Be
While the show provides families with a renovated house for no cost, the charges for having a beautiful new home can sneak up in different ways. The utility bills for a single-story house, for example, will be much less expensive than the utility bills for a three-story mansion with a fountain in the front yard.
Family Feuds Behind the Scenes
There are some things that money simply can't fix, and a new house can't fix them either. The episodes usually finish with a fairy-tale ending for the families involved, but some of those endings take a sad turn once the camera crews leave, and life returns to normal.
Too Much House
Does a family of four really need a six-bedroom mega-mansion? Most people don’t think so. Even during its peak, critics of the show questioned whether the crews were going a little overboard with the size of the houses they were renovating for the families on the episodes.
Foreclosures Instead of Fairy Tales
Viewers want to think that all the families got their happily ever after in their renovated homes and spent the rest of their days living contentedly there. While that may have happened for a few of the families that appeared on the show, that wasn't always the case.
The families that received the renovated homes weren't the only ones impacted by the show. Viewers often forget that the neighbors have to deal with the upheaval and the aftermath, even if the family doesn't get to stay in it.
Say Goodbye to Privacy
For the families moving into their new homes, there's a whirlwind week of camera crews and publicity, but once their episode is over, they expect to go back to a semi-normal routine. Unfortunately, they don't always get what they want.
The crew and network certainly worked hard to find loopholes so the families on the show wouldn't get hit with thousands of dollars in fees and taxes, but they weren't always able to find a long-term workaround. Eventually, the cost of the property catches up to the family living there.
Greed Over Family
Most of the families on the show are deserving of a break and a little help by way of a dream home. Sometimes, however, the new house actually forces some families to break apart. In one case, five orphans ended up losing their place in the newly renovated home.
When people are forced to move out of their new homes, their neighbors are also left with some fairly disgruntled feelings. After all, some of them came together and worked hard with the crew of Extreme Makeover to help that specific family, so they naturally feel a little cheated when all their hard work ends up benefitting a stranger.
Despite the show's best efforts, the government finds a way to squeeze every last taxable penny out of homeowners, and the families shown on Extreme Makeover are no different. Although the network is good at finding a lot of loopholes, they aren’t able to avoid every type of tax.
Flipping a Gift
Extreme Makeover worked hard to make each house unique and personalized to the family that would be living there. It added a nice touch, making the houses feel more like real homes for the families who were moving in. All those details were lost on some of the families, however, who decided to sell the houses almost as soon as the renovators left.
Who Needs a Carousel?
As the show progressed, the designers had to try to up their game to outperform all the houses they had designed before. The result was that the homes started becoming rather ridiculous, with features like elephant doorways, carousels in the foyers and over-the-top dining rooms.
Taxed by Proxy
Even when families stay in their homes, neighbors have to deal with the fallout of suddenly living on the same street as a mansion. The property value of the whole neighborhood is impacted, and the entire community ends up paying the price.
The Nightmare Week
The family goes away on a mini-vacation (one week) while their house is being renovated, but the neighbors don’t have that luxury and have to deal with the construction. With such a fast turnaround time, the renovators work well into the night and start quite early in the morning to get everything done on time, and the neighborhood just has to deal with the perpetual noise.
As you can imagine, with only a week to finish renovations, the quality of the work isn’t always up to par. Some families experienced some pretty terrible results — although it didn’t become obvious until months after the crews left.
Not Always Finished
In order to make that tight deadline of one week for all the renovations, the Extreme Makeover crews would sometimes leave certain parts of the house unfinished. They would complete just enough to pull off the big reveal on TV but leave other parts pitifully incomplete.
For all the problems that went on behind the scenes and off the cameras, the show had a pretty good run and an extremely dedicated fanbase. It lasted nearly a decade, running from 2003 to 2012, peaking during its time on the air at nearly 16 million viewers per episode.
Where's the Cast Now?
For viewers worried that the end of the show meant the end of the careers of those involved, fear not! The cast and crew have gone on to a variety of other successful projects over the years.
A number of people have stepped up over the years to defend some of the criticism launched against the show. Pennington himself gave an interview pointing out that the network couldn't protect against every financial disaster that happened to the families after the show.
When Is the Reboot Coming?
It has taken a few years, but Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is finally getting a makeover of its very own. Avid fans of the show are probably already aware that the reboot will be airing in February 2020 — 9:00 p.m. on February 16, to be exact.
The reboot will play to the original show's strengths, of course, but will take a slightly different direction. First, the show will be airing on HGTV, not ABC, and there will be slightly different criteria for the families appearing on the show.
Updating with Some Celebrity Hosts
Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson will be the new host of the show. Even better, according to the network, he will be standing alongside a star-studded cast of experts and helpers, ranging from country singers to home designers.
In with the New
When asked why Pennington isn't returning as host, HGTV had a pretty simple answer. They simply think Jesse Tyler Ferguson is a better fit for the direction they want to take the show this time around. His creative vision and energy are expected to bring something new to the iconic television series.
Pennington Is Not Gone Forever
For those who might be a little disappointed, don't worry. Ty Pennington isn't completely letting go of his beloved show. The former host will be returning as a hands-on builder and designer to help with the renovations taking place.
Learning from the Past
As the premiere date of the reboot approaches, viewers everywhere are sure to have some questions. Will this new version of the show simply repeat the old one's mistakes? Will the new homeowners be forced to sell due to things like property taxes or utility bills they can’t pay? Will they provide mega-mansions of unbelievable and unnecessary grandeur to people who sadly can't afford the upkeep?