Jane Angelich knew just how to describe her back yard when
writing a letter to try to convince the producers of HGTV's "Color
Splash" to give her yard a free makeover.
Angelich's idea to convert her "concrete landing pad" of a pool
and patio into a mini version of the pool at the Bellagio Hotel in
Las Vegas caught the attention of HGTV executives, who were looking
for home makeover candidates on Craigslist. After a successful
audition in her Novato, Calif., home, Jane and her husband, Mark,
made over by "Color Splash" host David Bromstad. Angelich estimates
the makeover would have cost her $50,000. But the Angelichs didn't
have to take out a
home equity loan
to pay for it -- HGTV did it for free.
Angelich says potential candidates can increase their chances of
being on the show as long as they follow a few simple rules: make
sure you follow the show, write a great pitch letter with a story
to tell, and when it comes time for your interview, be talkative,
energetic and don't be afraid of the camera.
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Along with contact information, applicants are often asked to
email photos of their home, a detailed description of why the room
needs a makeover, the square footage of the room, and a photo of
the homeowner(s) in front of the area to be improved.
Angelich, CEO of Bright IP Concepts, says she is used to
pitching her own ideas and wasn't camera shy when producers did a
mock interview with a video camera.
"You have to almost be over the top so you don't freeze up", she
says."If you're camera shy, this isn't the way to do it. You'll
never get through the audition."
For anyone who doesn't think they have the looks to be on TV,
Angelich says that isn't an issue. "It's not about what you look
like," she says. "It's about being in the program and participating
in it." In other words, she says, keep talking.
A good story to tell
Having an outgoing personality is certainly a plus, but having
an interesting story to tell, such as being a struggling single
mom, for example, can be just as engaging, says
, a Chicago interior designer who worked as a "ghost designer" on
HGTV's "Great Rooms."
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Lugbill says she remembers one homeowner who really stood out
because she was very outspoken and had a good story to tell as a
single mom. "She was just really outgoing and she was a lot of
Not always free, not always cheap
HGTV and the DIY Network have lots of home improvement shows, so
they're always looking for properties to improve. Each show has its
own casting requirements, and many are searching for people in
specific areas of the country.
While most shows offer free help, some such as DIY's "Sweat
Equity," require the homeowner to put in at least $5,000 and do
some of the work themselves. Jessica Hall and her husband, Brad,
say they've spent $10,000 from the time they were on the show last
year until now to redo their back yard in Eagan, Minn. Hall
responded to a Craigslist ad with a video showing their barren
yard, which eventually was remodeled by about 10 workers in three
The only costs for the Angelichs was renting a Dumpster and
staying in a hotel for one night. They weren't paid for being on
the show, and the value of the improvements -- which she didn't
want to reveal -- is treated as a taxable gift by the IRS.
Accepting the final project
Being a fan of the show you want to be on is also a good idea.
"We watch the program ["Color Splash"]," says Angelich. "That's the
beginning of the whole thing. If you pitch an idea to a show and
you don't watch it, then shame on you if you don't like what you
Results can be dramatic and homeowners must be willing to accept
them. "You have to be willing to accept what shows up in your
home," Angelich says, adding that yard makeovers might be easier
for homeowners to accept as opposed to indoor renovations.
But many homeowners, like Hall, love their home's
transformation. "We have a back yard that's good for entertaining
versus just open space," says Hall, who says she doesn't know how
much DIY spent on her makeover.
If you're not chosen
While getting your home remodeled for free would be a dream come
true for many, the reality is that the majority of homeowners will
have to finance their home repairs themselves. Since lending
restrictions remain tough and home equity is at a minimum for many,
your best bet may be to pay for the repairs with cash. If you don't
have the savings, you still have options. A home equity loan or
line, an FHA-insured Title I loan or 203(k) loan, and an
energy-efficient mortgage (EEM) are just a few of your many