"What dump are you taking me to today?” Kate Mancuso asks her husband, Darren, in the opening line of the pilot episode of Gut Job, which premiered on HGTV in November.
The Strongsville co-owners of Relief Properties were on their way to see a 1925 Ohio City home that had been on the market for two years and needed some serious upkeep. They then toured a Lakewood home on Mars Avenue that had been through a fire and needed to be converted from a double to a single-family home. The show’s sole setup: to buy one of two less-than-desirable homes, take it down to the studs and completely renovate it before staging and selling it for a significant profit.
Although the experience of filming the pilot was an exhaustive yearlong process that required 12-hour days of filming on top of their day jobs, the Mancusos can’t deny their excitement about filming in their hometown and their show being alongside other HGTV favorites such as Flip or Flop.
“There was a lot of b-roll of the city,” says Kate. “We got to talk about how cool our housing stock is with all of these homes with great character that we can make completely new again.”
Making old homes new again has been the couple’s specialty for a while, but they go beyond just flipping stock. Since starting their company in 2012, they’ve flipped about 15-20 homes per year and have since dedicated their energy to a “find and create” real estate model.
“Every day is something new, and that’s what’s cool about this,” says Kate. “Everything requires brainpower and thought. It’s a lot like a puzzle and you’re always moving pieces.”
When buyers can’t find what they’re looking for, the Mancusos and their team help clients create it, perhaps by finding a cheaper home that’s in the right location but in disrepair so they can buy it, design it and renovate it within their budget and specifications.
“There’s no day where we wake up and have no problems to solve,” says Kate, referring to experiences such as a house they ripped into recently to find cement board behind drywall or a house on Clifton Boulevard with no studs because of solid brick. “With the older homes, there are always surprises.”
While the future of Gut Job is itself a bit uncertain until HGTV orders more episodes, the Mancusos have hope for a remodeled future.
“If they say, ‘Yes, we want more,’ we’re ready,” says Kate.
If you’re moving into a house in Cleveland, there’s a good chance it’s seen a thing or two. The Mancusos give us some tips to consider before jumping into a home renovation.
Invest in an expert
"The value you get from a professional is worth the spend,” says Kate. “You want to have peace of mind when you’re closing up the walls that you’re not going to have problems later.”
Shop around to find the best bang for your buck
“You’re going to go over budget, and you’re going to have unknowns,” Darren says. “Get multiple estimates and hire a company that has a track record for what you’re trying to do.”
Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Projects as small as paint jobs might seem easy, but start small. “Until they actually pick up the brush and do it themselves, they underestimate the amount of time and effort it takes,” he says.