HGTV’s new show, Renovation Raiders, offers an exciting concoction featuring the thrills of a Hollywood bank heist married to the “Move That Bus!” surprise of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover Home Edition”. The result? An edge-of-your-seat rush that has an expert-picked team of renovators racing against the clock to remodel a room… all while the homeowners are out to dinner. Oh, and did I mention that they do it all in about 5-1/2 hrs time? Sound undoable? I thought so too.
Meeting at The Mark’s Home
The show kicks off with Licensed Contractors Amy “The Boss” Matthews and Jim “The Fixer” Huber visiting “The Mark’s” home. In the four shows I’ve watched so far, a spouse or loved one has secretly been the one to get the ball rolling, inviting Amy and Jim over to see the room that will be targeted (while “The Mark” is secretly away, of course). Usually a dinner date away from the home is planned so that the Renovators can get in, rip out and re-do. Amy and Jim take photos of the room from all sides, listen to last minute details and then take precise measurements.
Aiding in the completion of the surprise is a “Spy” that assists in the operation. Their job is to follow The Mark and keep Amy filled in on the couple’s dinner and travel progress. And if necessary – and it usually is – instigate some sort of creative delay tactics to keep the couple away from the home.
The Team meets at the Warehouse
At the Renovation Raider’s warehouse (or is it the BatCave?) Amy meets with the contractors, giving them an overview of the upcoming raid. In order to pull off the job quickly, an unusual step is taken that I’ve never seen done on another show. Those photos taken earlier – they are used to create an exact scale mock up of the build inside the warehouse. Photo vinyl sheets are printed out, covering the mock walls. When Amy and team walk into the space, they are able to pre-visualize the exact layout and challenges they will face. (“That outlet is gonna be a problem.” “What about the flooring over there?” “You want a fireplace… here?”)
Practice drills are next as the team pre-assembles cabinets, lays out flooring, installs lighting – all within the warehouse mock up. Amy times each step and works out a master time-schedule plan, then the mock up is disassembled and the trucks are loaded. It’s time to put the heist – uh – renovation into action.
Amy, Jim and the team wait at a predetermined holding area as the Spy watches the target home. When the couple leaves – the team springs into action with workers and crew going everywhere. First comes the clearing of the room. For example, if a kitchen is being re-done, the cupboards and cabinets have to be emptied first! There’s a set amount of time for that, of course, but as boxes are quickly filled, demolition is close behind.
The Renovation Raiders team goes into a beautifully coordinated mixture of chaos and control. Destroy and rebuild. Make instant decisions on those unexpected challenges. (“What do you mean the 5-foot hole in the ceiling was cut too big? … Jim!”) and getting creative when the unexpected happens. (“We’ve run out of wood for the doorway reframing? Time to go dig in the trash!”)
The Mark Returns Home
If the Spy has done their job, then they are following the couple home from whatever distraction has been put in place, and relaying the arrival time to Amy. With the team (hopefully) finished and out of the way, the Mark returns home to a completely remodeled room/kitchen/basement. Some Marks are deeply shocked and confused as hidden cameras record their reactions. I love it! How could you not be shocked? Everyone knows you can’t re-do a room in 5-1/2 hours, right?
Want to be on the show?
If you’re like me, you might be asking, “How do I get on Renovation Raiders?” I did a little digging and found Magnetic Production’s website that explains that, yes, they are casting for the show. But, you have to live in the Minneapolis Metro area. (“Whaaa? But I live in Florida!”)
Maybe the show could branch out, but there would have to be some serious obstacles to overcome. After all, how do you relocate the cool warehouse? Batman never had to move his BatCave, right? And then the team members might have to change. (“But I like the ones they have!”) Part of the show’s charm seems to come from the team drawing from local Minneapolis talent, but honestly, they’re still welcome at my place anytime! (Did I mention that it’s warmer in Florida?)
Getting Raided is a blast to watch
There is a great amount of fun – and adrenaline — in this show, and Amy Matthews does a fantastic job of keeping the viewer informed of every step and challenge. The show leaves you feeling like you’re part of the renovation excitement, all mixed in with carpentry, electrical, plumbing, flooring, painting… and anything else ending with “ing”. The crew has both a serious and playful interaction with one another. And it seems that they aren’t just background characters, they’re real people with some great talent, and you can tell that they enjoy each other’s company.
If you ever thought you could rush a home repair, renovation or remodel to surprise someone, then you owe it to yourself to watch the show.
HGTV’s Renovation Raiders is a whole lot of fun!
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Watch the Vimeo trailer for Renovation Raiders here.
Season episodes of Renovation Raiders can be found at this link on HGTV’s website.