Home & Garden

Revamp Your Space with HGTV


You’ve seen him on HGTV’s hit series Income Property helping homeowners turn their wasted space into cash-producing properties.  Host Scott McGillivray is a real estate investor and contractor with a gorgeous smile and a heart for want-to-be landlords.

Cotton Candy got a chance to pick the brain of the HGTV star and find out some tricks and tips to making your home the best-looking on the block.

Cotton Candy: Our editors just love you on the HGTV series Income Property. For those who haven’t seen it, tell us in a few sentences what’s the premise of the show.

Scott McGillivray: Income Property is a show about real estate, renovations and finance. We help people take control of their financial issues – whether that’s homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments or guiding those that are new to real estate investing. We renovate their properties and create income suites that can be rented out as a long-term solution for providing cash flow.

CC: Do you ever have a hard time getting people to see your vision for their home?

SM: Yah, we do. We give people two options for how we see dividing up their space, and I usually have a preference in mind. Sometimes they pick it, and sometimes they don’t. The homeowners are spending a lot of money, and they’re usually already in a financially tight situation, so they understandably get nervous. You just have to remind them along the way that we know what we’re doing, and we have a great track record of happy (and money-making) homeowners.

CC: Can you give us two or three tips on how can someone create curb appeal with a budget and little time?

SM: People often underestimate the power of curb appeal, and there are a few things that homeowners can do quickly to improve the look of their home. A fresh coat of paint can work wonders – the front door, old shutters, window frames and porches can all benefit, but make sure you prep the area properly and are using the right products for outside. Cleaning and polishing the existing hardware and kickplate on the front door makes a huge impact and if your house number is hard to read or looking a little dated you can replace it quite inexpensively from your local building centre. The outside of your house is the first impression that buyers get, so make it count.

CC: People love eco-friendly homes these days. What in the home can someone do right away to make a home environment friendly?

SM: Eco-friendly renovations are a win-win – you’re helping the planet, and you can experience significant cost savings over time in terms of reducing energy bills and even receiving rebates from the government. Some easy things you can do right away to improve the efficiency of your home are: caulking around windows, adding weather stripping to door gaps, installing low-flow shower heads, putting aerators on faucets, switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, changing your furnace filter and setting up a programmable thermostat.

If you have a little more time and money to invest, insulating your walls and attic with Roxul eco-friendly insulation, replacing old or inefficient furnaces, hot water tanks and air conditioners, and installing new windows are all excellent ways to update your home.

CC: What’s the biggest mistake you see homeowners do that make the home feel less spacious? How would you suggest remedying that?

SM: New homes today are all designed with a more open concept in mind so when you go into a home that is segmented into small rooms you can really feel the difference. If you’re able to open up your main living area it can make a huge impact. But be prepared – opening up walls can mean opening up a can of worms, in terms of the structural integrity of the house, redirecting plumbing and electrical and a host of other unanticipated issues. Other no-no’s would be insufficient lighting, blocking out windows or lowering ceilings.

Scott McGillivray, Host of HGTV's Income Property

Scott McGillivray, Host of HGTV's Income Property

How can someone know if their home looks out of date? (Lots of us just don’t see it until a family member has the guts to say so.)

SM: Show it to me. I’ll be honest! But seriously, people get really emotional about their homes, and sometimes it takes an outsider to give an honest appraisal. If you haven’t made any updates for 15 years it’s probably a good idea to take a look around your house and see what else needs updating. Small fixes like painting your kitchen cabinets or changing the hardware can make a huge impact in bringing your house up to date. It’s not all cosmetic too, it’s important to be maintaining your house properly (for example, electrical and plumbing) to ensure you’re maintaining the value of your home.

CC: We’re sure lots more people want to create an income property than are ready to take on the task. How do you know if you’re ready to take on the huge title of “landlord?”

SM: It’s all about having the right mindset and understanding the risk and reward of being a real estate investor. The reward part is easy – cheques to the bank! But there’s no such thing as an easy buck, you have to be ready to do the extra work to make the extra money. Do your research on the types of rental properties that are already available in your area and the amount of rent they are charging. Take a good look at your finances to see if you have the money to invest and do the calculations to see if the cash flow you’ll generate from rent makes it a smart investment.

Once you’re ready to make the investment in an income property, which is typically in the form of a renovation to get the right space, it will lead to the right tenants which will make your life as a landlord a lot smoother. Remember, the caliber of your rental will dictate the caliber of your renter.

CC: When renovating your home, how do you know when to do it yourself and when to hire a contractor? What are your tips to finding the right person or company to work on your home?

SM: There are a lot of things that novices can complete on their own, but if it requires a licensed trade than you may be doing more harm than good by taking matters into your own hands. A couple of things that the average homeowner can tackle are painting, but this still means doing it with care and proper preparation, and insulating framed walls. Batt insulation is really easy to install yourself and can be accomplished in a couple of hours and is a great way to save energy. Laying laminate floors and landscaping are also fairly low risk and can be accomplished well if you can follow instructions.  Leave any electrical, HVAC, and plumbing to the pros – these are licensed trades and require safety inspections and often permits. Be ambitious, but don’t be a hero.

Scott McGillivray is a real estate investor, contractor, television personality, and educator. He is currently the host and executive producer of HGTV’s hit series Income Property and has appeared on various other HGTV programs.

Cotton Candy Magazine®