The Shocking Truth About 'Beachfront Bargain Hunt: Renovation'

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The Truth About 'Beachfront Bargain Hunt: Reno'rmcguirk - Getty Images
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Seasoned viewers of home renovation TV shows, like HGTV’s House Hunters, know the core premise isn’t always rooted in reality. While fakery and filming magic go into making these shows, they provide pure enjoyment for many onlookers. One such widely beloved favorite is Beachfront Bargain Hunt: Renovation. The series, which currently encompasses eight seasons, comes with its fair share of shocking truths—from faux house hunting to relentless filming. “I probably would never do it again,” homeowner Gina Lisa Fernandez, who appeared in season six, tells House Beautiful. “It was a lot of filming for a 40-minute episode. I would say at least 60 hours of filming for a 40-minute episode, which is crazy.”

In the first part of each episode, potential buyers look at prospective houses. But in reality, the buyers are already under contract on one of the featured houses. For Fernandez and her husband, only one of the three houses they looked at in Brigantine, New Jersey, was for sale. The others included their relator’s condo and the home they had already purchased. The tours of each home aren’t the quick run-throughs they appear to be onscreen. Fernandez explains: “It's not scripted, but they just film you going into the room. They film you leaving the room, and you have to keep doing everything over and over again.”

She found the transparent amount of takes and work that went into each episode to be a surprising part of the experience—and that it remained unscripted throughout. “They would just ask you questions when they do the close-ups of you talking… but it was all genuine answers, which I thought was pretty cool,” she says.

The second half of each episode takes viewers through the renovation process. Fernandez and her husband, who is a general contractor, actually did all of the renovations. Naturally, filming lengthened the process. “[My husband would] be trying to actually finish tiling a bathroom, and [the film crew would] be like, ‘Wait, can you do that again?’”

While it may look like home renovations on TV are fast, they’re anything but speedy in reality—whether they're being filmed or not. “You can see, in the filming, it's summer, then it's winter, and then it's spring,” Fernandez says. “So renovations take a lot longer than you think, and a lot goes into those and a lot of complexity.”

Home renovations are also often more expensive than they seem. “On TV, it might show that it was $100,000, but at the end of the day, it was probably like $200,000,” Fernandez says. “It was probably way more expensive than it appears to be.”

When Fernandez applied to be on the show, the world was beginning to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. As a longtime HGTV obsessive and Beachfront Bargain Hunt: Renovation fan, she thought being part of the series would be super fun. “Our realtor actually was super excited about it, and she's done it multiple times after that with other families; not the renovations, but I think just Beachfront Bargain Hunt,” she adds.

To get on the show, Fernandez filled out an application. Then the network interviewed the whole family via Zoom, asking a bunch of questions and recording it, “because obviously when they are selecting someone to be on the show, you have to have a personality,” she says. “You can't just be like a dud.”

Then, the network contacted them. “So we sent them pictures of the house, pictures of our family, and what our plans were for the renovations,” she says. “And then they selected us to be on the show.”

Homeowners are given some compensation for being on the show. Fernandez explains: “They give you $500 for the first part of the episode when they shoot you looking at the three houses and selecting one. That probably was maybe six [hours], maybe a day, maybe two days of filming.”

The renovations part is much more exhausting as it requires hours and months of filming. For that, “they give you $5,000 towards a project that you want to do on the house,” Fernandez says.

Even though Beachfront Bargain Hunt: Renovation isn’t exactly what it seems, Fernandez appreciated being on it. “What's amazing about the experience is seeing the before and after because when you're in it, you don't realize the drastic change," she says. "But then when you watch it on TV, you're like, ‘Oh my God, I forgot it looked like that.’ It was great to have that documented forever.”

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