The Truth Behind "Yard Crashers"

Over the past seven seasons of shooting "Yard Crashers" for DIY Network and HGTV,  I am constantly asked the same questions about the show.  So instead of letting the rumors fly around like the dust during one of our builds, I will tackle these questions for you head on and answer them honestly.  Here we go...

 

Question:  Do you really do the builds in two days?

Answer:  Yes we do.  In fact, it's more like a day and a half.  After I do the drive up, introductions and design reveal,  we don't started with demo until around 9:30 or 10 a.m.  We do however work overtime into the night as long it takes to get up to speed.  Sometimes we get done around 8 p.m. or in some rare instances 2 a.m. the next day.  You can always tell how long I've been awake by counting the rings under my eyes.  To top it off, we have to be done building by 3 p.m. on day two in order to get done with all of our interviews and "after shots" before the sun goes down.   It is by far one of the craziest shows I've been a part of, but I love it.

 

Question:  Do you really come back the next day after you meet the couple to start work?

 

Answer:  No way.  In fact, in the last five seasons we have tried not to elude to the fact that we come back the next day because literally it would be impossible.  We have to not only draw up the design, but also order all of the materials, synchronize deliveries of all those materials, hire the proper contractors to help out and get all the proper permits in order.   I don't know of anyone that could do that in one night, let alone a few days.  Typical turn around time is 30-60 days.  The show is already a logistical nightmare as it is, so we need all the prep days we can get.

 

Question:  Are the homeowners you go home with real or were they picked beforehand?

 

Answer:  I go into every Lowe's searching for real homeowners and nine times out of ten I find them.  We do have backups that we do call in if the day is looking pretty slow.  We can't afford to have a day that we don't find anyone.  It puts us too far behind and it is very costly to bring in an entire crew and pay them for nothing.  So the answer is very rarely.  If we do bring a couple when the store is slow, more often than not I've met them before on another day of ambushing and we just had too many people that day to cast.  So for everyone that thinks that all the homeowners are fake, it's just not the case.

 

Question:  Do you work when the camera's are not rolling or do you go into a trailer, lay in a cozy bed and eat lobster?

 

Answer:  First off, the only trailer I have is packed full of tools.  Secondly, If I wasn't shooting a TV show, I would be building something.  I love to build.  It is in my blood and it drives me.  So the answer is absolutely not.  I work straight through for two days, hence the reason I go home and pass out for two days straight.  Although I would stop for a lobster lunch anytime.  

 

Question:  Do you still carry a hair brush in your tool bags?

 

Answer:  Thanks to my friend Josh Temple of "House Crashers",  people in airports around the country can be heard yelling, "Hey Bla Bla!  Where's your brush!?!?".  Needless to say, I ditched the hair brush.

 

On the set of "Yard Crashers".  This is the beginning of the day which we refer to as "The Crash".  The fun is about to begin.

On the set of "Yard Crashers".  This is the beginning of the day which we refer to as "The Crash".  The fun is about to begin.

Build For Love

I can say, without a doubt, that I am so blessed to have the job of my dreams.  I get to build and create amazing things everyday then share them with you.  “Living the dream” as they say.  Over the seven years of being on television and hosting home improvement shows, I’ve have built up an amazing amount of gratitude.  It’s quite a feeling to give someone a new kitchen, bathroom or yard in a matter of days and watch their eyes light up.  You can actually feel the positivity and happiness in the air when I show them their new space.  It is awesome to say the least.  It got me thinking, why I couldn’t share that same positivity boost to those who really need it most? That is why I started a non-profit called “Build For Love”.  It gives kids who are recovering or suffering from serious illness a room remodel to boost their spirits and hopefully help them heal faster.  You can check it out at www.buildforlove.org.

My point here is to not just tell you about my charity (although we can always use donations), but to try and give you a little boost in your own renovation endeavors.  Next time you are getting ready to take on a project, think about not only about loving the outcome, but also loving the process.  For every nail hammered or screw driven,  be grateful for being able to create and use your abilities to improve your space.  I found that when I pour positivity into the process, my creativity flourishes.  A positive mind is an open one and you will be able to build things you never thought possible.  One of my favorite sayings is “If you can dream it, you can build it”.  Spring is just around the corner, so let’s get ready to build!

www.buildforlove.org

The Contracting Realtor

First of all, Happy New Year to everyone!  It has been a crazy year for me, professionally speaking.  "Yard Crashers" is still going strong and we just got renewed for season 13.   I can safely say that I will be busy through 2014, and in my line of work, that is always welcomed.  I intend to blog more in the new year.  (I know I have been slacking.)  I think I know what my New Year's resolution is going to be…

Along with "Yard Crashers", I have been shooting a new show called Vacation House For Free that will premiere New Year's Day on HGTV (please check your local listings and set your DVR).  Basically, it's "House Hunters" meets "Income Property".  Sounds like a winner, right?  Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed shooting it.  I have already been getting questions regarding my role in the show as a real estate professional.  Some people are already asking "I thought you were a contractor?  When did you become a Realtor?".  I thought I'd take a moment to answer...

I've been a licensed contractor for years, but I've also have been a licensed Realtor since 2007.   I worked under Century 21 in Fullerton, California and I loved every minute of it.  I originally got my license when I was building houses from the ground up.  I would purchase the land as a Realtor, put my tool belt on and build on the land as a contractor, and then put my Realtor hat back on and sell the house.  I loved being actively involved from soil to sale.  It can be a crazy process, and to be honest, downright scary to new home buyers.

After the "new home" market went down, I became a specialist for distressed properties: properties that were in foreclosure, short sales, probate, etc.   I became addicted to it!  I relished in navigating the market and getting my clients the best deal.  I also loved explaining the process to them in terms they could understand.  I also brought my skills as a contractor to the table, so we could make an offer with confidence knowing the exact shape the property was in.  I would say those experiences led to my well-rounded home improvement expertise.

I just love the idea of the homestead: a place that is probably one of the biggest investments a family will make in their lives.  So, whether it is designing and building them a new kitchen as a contractor, or getting an offer accepted 20k lower than we hoped for as a Realtor, I love it all!  My passion is, and will always be, helping people create the home of their dreams.

You'll get to see all my skills at work on my new HGTV series.  Assisting homeowners in finding a vacation getaway that pays for itself made my job(s) even more fun!

Feel free to shoot me any home improvement and/or real estate questions via Twitter.  I love to share what I know and (hopefully) help you!  Maybe you can also remind me to keep my New Year's resolution of blogging more.  I think that's a fair trade :)

Wishing you a prosperous, healthy and happy new year!

Matt Blashaw, host of HGTV's "Vacation House For Free"

Matt Blashaw, host of HGTV's "Vacation House For Free"

Design Like A Pro

Everyone has grand ideas about their backyard design and all the amazing things they want to put in it.   Based on your budget, I think you should have a pretty good idea of what is realistic and what is just a hopeful dream. I get it.  Keep on dreaming dreamers.  Dreaming equals creativity in my book, but sometimes your budget wakes you up from that dream pretty quickly.

Don’t fear, you can still make it work even on a budget.  Just don’t over extend your self.   This why I like to design in “three’s”.  Think of three areas you want in your yard.  Whether you want a seating area to relax by a fire pit, a dining area, BBQ island, bocce ball court, water feature or a bar, just pick three and write them down.  Anything more tends to overcrowd a yard and in turn overwhelm your budget.  

Now go inside your home and find the room in which you can see your yard.  Usually this is through french or sliding glass doors in the living room, kitchen or dining room.  Now look out the door to your yard.  That is where you want to place the element that has the most impact.  Not right in front of the door, but somewhere towards the back of the yard so you can see the element from inside the house.  I like to put my water feature or fire feature in that space.  This is so you can enjoy the look of your amazing yard you just built even from the inside.  I guess you can say it is bringing the outside to the inside in a way.

Next think about how much hardscape you want to put down.  Keep in mind this is the most labor intensive and in most cases the most costly part of your build.  If you don’t have a ton of budget, try creating a pathway or patio with lawn bender board and some crushed rock like Sonoma Gold.  I will get more in depth with hardscape soon, but just know that there are ways to get the look you want without breaking the bank and your back.

If you want to have a low maintenance yard, consider scraping the idea of a lot of sod and trading it out for planting beds or hardscape.  If you want more seating consider building planter beds with larger top caps to make nice seat for guests.

Now sketch down those three areas on a piece of paper.  It doesn’t have to look pretty and no one else has to understand what it is besides you.  Seeing a visual drawing of your yard lets you see the relationships that are going in your yard.   You want to visually see the layout, so you can see the sense of balance you are creating.  Balance is key.  Keep your areas proportional to one another.  In other words the sitting area should be relatively close in size the the bar/grill area.  This will not only give the yard visual balance, but also a sense of harmony between areas.

Ready...set...draw.  Check back soon and I will talk about building the amazing backyard you want with as little money and labor as possible.  A dream come true for any do-it-yourselfer.

Design Blog.jpg

Crash It Yourself (Part One)

Over the next month or so, I'm going to be blogging my steps to crashing your own backyard.  I sincerely wish I could get to everyone's yard in the nation, but there are so many yards and only one of me.  Renovating a backyard is a challenge no matter who you are.  My back is still sore from some of the yards I've built.   Before you get started on yours, sit down, take a deep breath and consider the following.  

Step 1:  Set your budget.  This will give you a great jumping-off point.  Your budget can make the decision between hiring a contractor to do etched custom concrete for your patio or laying some gravel yourself.  Both are sufficient hardscapes: one is just more wallet-friendly.  Having a budget also brings the reality into your design a bit.  I'm not saying you can't get the look you want, but with a smaller budget, you just might have to get more creative.  

This will also help you in the planning process of "subbing" out your work.  You can save a ton of money by doing things yourself, but certain jobs should be left to the pros if you are not comfortable.  I would say concrete work is the number one thing I sub out.  You can do masonry block projects and stone facing on your own, but anything involving poured patios or driveways should be done by someone who really knows what they are doing.

Gravel patio: although cheaper than concrete, can still give you a beautiful look.

Gravel patio: although cheaper than concrete, can still give you a beautiful look.

The prep is a lot of work, and if it's not done right (cracking, poor drainage and discoloration are huge risks), all that time and money you put in will be for nothing.  Trust me, your back will thank you if you invest in professional help with concrete jobs.

nce you've set your budget, start looking at home-improvement magazines and watch shows like mine for ideas that fit.  I try to incorporate a lot of budget-friendly projects on my show that produce great results.  The ideas are out there, just don't expect them all to come to you at the same time.  Research and marinate on ideas for four to six weeks and write everything down that interests you.  Now, you are ready to design! 

o... where do you start the design?  Check back next week and I'll show you the secret to design like a pro.  And believe me... it's easier than you think....  

Before you crash your own yard, know exactly how much you want to crash your bank account.