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HGTV Secret Revealed! How I Got My HGTV Show: Part 1
A lot of people ask me: “How did you get your HGTV show?” And wow – what a big question this is! There’s a short answer and a long answer and they’re both the same. Short answer: a ton of work and a little luck. Long answer: Let me tell you about a lot of work and a little bit of luck…
How I Got Noticed by HGTV
First, We Built Our Own House… and the One Next Door
It was 2010 and Brett called me. “Jas, I finally found a piece of land and we’ve gotta buy it TODAY!” We’d been looking for a house – or piece of land to build a house on – without any luck. I was out of town auditing a company (I was a cost reduction consultant at the time) and after a long day of working with my clients, buying a piece of real estate across the country felt surreal and was honestly the furthest thing from my mind.
“Go for it!” I told him. “We’ll build ourselves a house and we can build one next door as an investment to offset the cost.” We both knew it was a big project and a gamble, but we’d had our real estate licenses in college and had business degrees in entrepreneurship, so we decided to go for it.
Once we closed on the land, I threw the numbers into a spreadsheet, signed up with a local general contractor, and set an intro meeting with an architect. Fast forward one year, and we FINALLY had our plans approved through the City of Huntington Beach. We were building a craftsman style home as spec (to sell) and a “California Cape Cod” for ourselves. We were SO EXCITED! We got started and things were moving quickly.
The real problem started when we were framing the house. Our builder started asking a lot of questions that we couldn’t answer and since we were both working full-time in other jobs, being home developers on the weekend was starting to wear on us. I found myself working on the houses every minute I wasn’t at work… and it still wasn’t enough. We were falling behind and we were officially stalled. I’d started a new job in corporate social responsibility, and when the timing seemed right, I decided to give my notice and “become a home builder.”
I Quit My Corporate Job and Grabbed a Hard Hat
See, I told you there was a little bit of luck involved. Turns out I really enjoyed going to the jobsite everyday. I loved learning from all the skilled tradespeople that were working on our home and I loved discovering new materials to use on our build. And when I say “new,” I mean they were actually mostly just new to me, since I’d never built a house before, but you know what I mean. In 2013 we finally finished the houses and moved into our dream home.
I sold the investment property we built next door as “for sale by owner” and just like that, my company had its first big win.
I’d already started Built Custom Homes and launched my blog, and this sale was just the thing to boost my confidence for my next big venture. I gathered some family investors and bought another piece of land in Huntington Beach. I kept building custom homes from the ground up, selling them, buying more land… it was fun and lots of hard work.
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But I also thought it would be fun to try some renovations and DIY projects I’d seen on Pinterest. After all, I had a blog and needed some great content to post. So I took on friends and family as clients… for free! I worked for about 2 years, full-time, developing homes for Built Custom Homes (to pay the bills) and then filled every spare minute with all my other projects – and never charged anyone.
Work, Work and More WORK!
Finally, when I had enough photos in my portfolio and enough people asking for my help, I started accepting paying clients. I renovated condos, stenciled concrete patios, decorated living rooms, hung gallery walls, picked paint colors, redid entire homes for sale… the list goes on and on.
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I was learning and my company was growing fast! At the end of 2015, I took on a fun project for my family called the #TinyMountainHome.
It was a project in Park City, UT with a tight budget, even tighter quarters (only 640 square feet), and I did all the work in the middle of a blizzard. Because of the quick timeline I did a lot of the work myself, documenting and posting to Instagram as I went. The videos were raw, real, and showed the progress as it was happening. In retrospect, I’d accidentally put myself on a TV timeline without even realizing it.
I Auditioned Without Even Knowing It
A few months after finishing that project, I received an email from a production company that develops shows for HGTV. “We’d love to videochat with you if you’re interested,” the email read. I called my mother-in-law and we laughed about how it must be a joke. I responded, although I didn’t give it much thought since I assumed the email was a scam, “sure, I’d love to chat!”
I know, I know – I was dead wrong! That first call was surreal. I’d never considered being on TV and knew nothing about it. I asked how they’d found me and was so surprised when they said… Instagram! I had less than 1,500 followers at the time, although I was posting away like I had a million!
I’d posted one of my most recent new construction projects for sale and in the caption had used the hashtag #beachbuild. It just so happens, HGTV was looking for a new show about building at the beach and the stars aligned. That said, I never did a show about building at the beach because by the time we sent over footage to HGTV, someone else had beat us to the punch and the concept we’d worked so hard to pitch was dead. For many, that might have been the end, but luckily for me, it was just the beginning.
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Thanks for reading! Are you surprised how I got my own HGTV show? Don’t worry, I’ll write more soon. Next up, how I got my Pilot episode on my HGTV show!