Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Rob Evans, co-host of the new HGTV series The Expandables.
Our scheduled 20-minute interview turned into a 60-minute conversation,which had me rethinking the home renovation business and a greater appreciation for all the possibilities.
As we all know, home reno has become big business. Evans, whose specialty is reclaiming lost or unused space, estimates a typical renovation project costs between $35K to $65K. If you live in a typical older Toronto home with a low-ceiling basement, however, by the time you redig that space and do the necessary foundation work, you could easily spend between $80,000 and $100,000.
The point is that with the high cost of real estate in Toronto, these huge investments are easily justified. For Evans, it’s not just about the huge sums of money involved, he truly believes this stuff can be life-changing.
Take for example a situation in one of the first episodes of the series (which premiered Jan. 8), and features a young couple with a small house, two kids and not enough space. Toys and clothes spill over everywhere while parents wonder if they will ever get their adult space back. Home reno isn’t just about making a few fixes here and there, it is also a look at how people live their lives.
We discussed other scenarios as well, e.g., the widowed grandparent who may want to move in with the rest of the family. It really is more than just changing a bedroom, it’s an entire lifestyle change and you need to think of such renovations “as full-scale and not just one room at a time.”
Says Evans, homeowners may not even know what they want or be aware of all the possibilities, and the number one mistake people make is being too limited in their thinking.
“Whenever I ask people want they want done, the typical response I get is ‘my kitchen is too small’ or ‘my hallway is too dark’ when the first question you ask should is ‘how do you plan to use this living space,” he says.
With The Expandables, you get a lot of the usual HGTV fare—a host with a self-deprecating sense of humour, a co-host (Mia Parres) who takes it but also dishes it out and a full reno team in the background working hard to meet a tight deadline while making it all seem like fun.
Beyond that, though, Evans comes across as a renovator who not only knows his stuff, but sees the bigger picture, which is important, as I watch these shows not just to be entertained but also to be enlightened.
With Rob at the helm, I get the feeling you can learn a lot.