Chip and Joanna Gaines run a successful design and construction company in Waco, so they are accustomed to meeting deadlines.
Time means money for the owners of Magnolia Homes, and they strive to finish projects on schedule.
But HGTV, the Home & Garden cable network, pushed them nearly to the breaking point on a pilot program scheduled to air Thursday evening. If the show is well-received nationally, the Gaineses will get at least 13 more opportunities to have their nerves frayed, Joanna Gaines said during a phone interview.
The couple agreed to remodel a fixer-upper in the historic Castle Heights neighborhood of Waco, with a camera crew from HGTV capturing every hammer swing, window measurement and consultation Chip and Joanna had with design and construction crews.
“We were given one month to complete a job that typically would take four to five months,” Joanna Gaines said. “With about five days left to go, I told the production team that I needed at least two more weeks. They said no. We would have to finish it within the time allotted.”
They pulled it off, completing the task in 28 days, but not without a lot of late nights and early mornings on the job.
The owners will pay to have their house transformed into their dream home, while HGTV will reward the Gaineses with a “talent fee” for taking part in the pilot.
Joanna said everything about the filming must remain hush-hush until after the show airs, including the exact address of the home, the identity of its owners and the budget.
“It was so funny, the things they told us not to talk about,” Joanna said. “They don’t want to spoil the suspense.”
Series could go on the road
If America responds, HGTV will take the “Fixer Upper” series on the road to Texas cities such as Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin, with the Gaineses in starring roles.
“They will do the screening and make the final decision on which homes to be featured, though we will have some input,” Joanna said, adding the challenge will grow as she and her husband orchestrate the work of her design employees and construction subcontractors dispatched hundreds of miles from Waco.
“If it happens, we’ll have 13 more of these houses to remodel, which is a great opportunity,” she said. “If it doesn’t, it still has been a great experience.”
The Gaineses also face a delicate balancing act of feeding content to HGTV while meeting other obligations.
Chip Gaines said they have another five homes in the pipeline for their Magnolia Villas addition on North 46th Street, near the Extraco Events Center.
Those will give them 17, which is nearly half the 36 lots available, according to the Gaineses, who added that young professionals and empty nesters are flocking to Magnolia Villas because of a generally improving economy and low interest rates. They also have eight to 10 remodeling jobs on their to-do list.
Then there is a personal project near to the heart of Chip, Joanna and their four children.
“We are involved in a major renovation of an old farmhouse on 40 acres near Crawford,” Joanna Gaines said. “We’ve been so busy, we’ve not been able to pull our guys off other jobs to work on it. HGTV has said they may include a short segment about the farmhouse in each episode, which would give us an excuse to devote more time to it.”
Joanna said she studied broadcast journalism at Baylor University, so she feels comfortable in front of a camera. As a teenager, she often appeared in TV commercials for Jerry Stevens Fire-stone, which was owned by her family. She was exposed to design when she married Chip, also a Baylor grad and a contractor.
“It seems as if things have gone full circle for me, and it has been fun,” she said.