Don’t be a DIY Disaster! This week, HGTV’s Star Contractor, Bryan Baeumler, joins Adam & Matt to chart his explosive trajectory from ‘on-the-tools’ to ‘on-the-TV’ with several hit shows and counting. We brought in the beloved seasoned veteran to offer renovation pro-tips, what Bryan looks for in an investment, and what pitfalls to avoid along the way. Also learn about Bryan’s new app that matches trusted home-service experts with potential customers and why his latest TV project might have you investing in the Bahamas!
Vancouver Real Estate News, Market Updates, Insider Tips, Stats, & Analysis
Bryan is a celebrity contractor and the host of many successful renovation shows on Home & Garden Television. He owns a number of media companies and production companies that build custom spec homes and undertake renovations on the west-side of the Toronto area. He has done 7-8 television series (485 episodes) for HGTV.
On how he got started in real estate:
Bryan realized from an early age that investing in real estate could be profitable because they are not making any more land. He went to private school as a child and realized that he related more to the maintenance workers at the school than his class mates. His father was a blue-collar worker at a sheet metal shop in Toronto who taught Bryan how to be hands on with tools and repairs. He went to university where he obtained a degree in business and political science. Throughout his education he maintained apprenticeship hours with construction companies. He was planning to go to law school, but realized he was much more interested in renovating homes than law. He obtained further education in construction and eventually started his own business.
On how someone goes from being a home builder to a TV star:
Bryan credits part of his success to his formal training in business, sales and marketing. As a young man, he was looking to establish a brand for his construction company and actively trying to market his business. While watching HGTV, he decided to answer a casting calls for a renovation show, hoping this would provide some free advertising for his company. He received a phone call from a producer that wanted to meet him at a building site. This meeting eventually led to an offer from HGTV for Bryan to star in his own television series called Disaster DIY. Bryan suffered from anxiety as a younger man and felt some trepidation about being on television. Despite this, he felt he could not pass up such a great opportunity. Being on television has opened a lot of doors for Bryan, but it has also meant that he is not always ‘on-the-tools’, which is what he loves doing.
How did being on HGTV affect his business:
Bryan originally thought that HGTV would offer great exposure for his business, business would explode and everything would be great. What he didn’t realize was that a television series required 18-20 hours of work per day for 6 days a week over a 9-month period. After production was done, he was then required to market the show and do media appearances. Early on, Bryan did not own the production or distribution of the series and was not making as much as he anticipated. After the 2nd HGTV show was negotiated, Bryan shared in the production and distribution profits and was offered the freedom to negotiate the topics and time commitments of each series. The show ‘House of Bryan’ came about after Bryan decided he wanted to renovate his own home. He prides himself on being honest and only attaching his name to content that he feels will benefit viewers.
Bryan’s advice for people that are thinking of renovating their home or building new:
The answer is different for every individual. It depends on income, savings, where the house is, value of the home, future plans, dreams, etc. These factors are different for everyone. Bryan recently worked with a married couple of retirement age looking to spend $450K to renovate their home. Bryan noted that their home was still in good shape and felt a renovation might not be the best use of their money. He proposed taking the $450K to comfortably travel the world instead. Although this answer surprised them, they felt he was right and did not go through with the renovation. The answer is different for everybody.
On the different challenges of building for yourself versus building spec properties:
Bryan feels that North America is a disposable, single use society. He feels homes are being built this way as well. People care what the home looks like, but they do not worry about efficiency, heating and cooling costs, carbon foot print, etc. Bryan feels most people in Canada could live in a house of ½ the size they could afford now if the house was built properly with these factors being taken into consideration. One of his goals is to educate home owners on where the real value is in their home. For example, people should ask the type of insulation used in the home or how much it costs to heat and cool the home in different seasons or the maintenance or operating costs. The houses that Bryan builds provide value by using quality materials that will last for years and allow the home owner to renovate the fixtures of the home over time but not worry about what is behind the walls.
Bryan’s thoughts on the low quality of craftmanship in homes in Vancouver:
Building is a business. Low quality of homes is consumer driven. Consumers could ask for smaller homes that are efficient and that is what builders would produce. Consumers are not interested in these types of homes and therefore, they are not being built. People should educate themselves and read the fine print before the buy a home to insure they are getting the best value for their money.
Does Bryan have a checklist of what to look for when buying a home:
Building inspectors are great, but they can’t see through the walls. If you are buying a newer home, focus on the efficiency. If buying an older home, don’t buy something at the max of what you can afford because in most cases, you will need to renovate the home after moving in. Look at homes that leave you money left over to renovate the home and make it livable.
What are some of Bryan’s biggest mistakes:
When he started his company, Bryan doubled his revenue every year for the first 5 years. Business is easy if you follow these rules: show up when you say you will be there, do what you say you will do, pay your taxes, put the money in the bank and do it again the next day. Your time as a small business owner is not a cost. You can work on a Saturday or Sunday and this isn’t a cost to you. If you don’t want to do this, you are better off being an employee that will allow you weekends off.
After 5 years, Bryan’s business reached 10 employees and he struggled with finding a proxy to manage his interests and step in when he wasn’t available. This is not an easy task and sometimes you put your trust in the wrong people. He has learned some lessons in this regard over time.
On what is next for Bryan:
Bryan and his family are currently living on a small island in the Bahamas renovating an old hotel. He purchased the island and hotel when he was travelling in the area. Bryan is now renovating the hotel and the renovation has been filmed for a new HGTV series called ‘Island of Bryan’ which will launch in March 2019. The hotel will open in April of 2019 and viewers of the show can come to stay in the hotel and may even get the chance to meet and socialize with Bryan (maybe some fishing and diving).
On if he is a real estate investor in Canada:
Bryan invests in residential and commercial real estate in Canada. His strategy is to buy and hold real estate. He is concerned that going forward, as real estate becomes more expensive, less and less people will be able to afford it. His advice for young people is to get into the market and keep everything they buy. If you own a small condo and want to move to a house, keep the condo and rent it out instead of selling it. Bryan owned a condo in downtown Vancouver, which he sold just before the Olympics were announced. He regrets selling this condo as it is worth much more today than it was when he sold it.
Do you have a favourite area of Vancouver:
Bryan loves the water and mountains. He loves English Bay and feels at home in Vancouver.
On the Hey Bryan app:
Bryan has created an app called “Hey Bryan” that will connect home owners directly with service providers and experts in their area. The service providers are vetted by the app, all payments are done through the app. Customers need to sign off on the job and service providers are rated by customers to ensure good service. Service providers can control when they work and how much they work. It also allows efficiency in that service providers do not need to spend time looking for business outside of the app. The app is currently available in Vancouver and will soon be available in other large Canadian cities.
Find out more about Bryan: