"Property Brothers" stars Jonathan and Drew Scott don't just create dream homes for their clients on TV—they also do it out of the goodness of their hearts! How? As part of Habitat for Humanity's second annual Home Is the Key Campaign, running through the month of April, the Scotts are helping build two homes in Nashville, TN, with single moms Ashleeand Amanda.
"Everybody deserves to have a safe, beautiful home somewhere they can actually call home," said Drew in an interview with realtor.com®, held during a short break in the day when they were raising the walls with a crew of more than 50 volunteers—including Ashlee and Amanda themselves, who plan to move in by the end of the month.
But as Jonathan points out, "At Habitat, it's a hand up, not a hand out." Ashlee and Amanda will also learn how to balance a budget, improve their home equity, and do other things that help them stay on top of rising housing costs.
Curious to hear more about what we can all do to keep housing expenses from spiraling, we asked the Scott brothers for their most budget-friendly advice.
What can we all do to help make housing more affordable—in our own lives and beyond?
Jonathan: You can get involved with an organization like Habitat for Humanity! Over the period that we've been involved, they've helped 13.2 million people with affordable, safe housing. Even if you don't make a cash donation, make the donation of your time and experience a build. It's the most rewarding experience.
Drew: Jonathan and I have been working with Habitat since the mid-'90s, [as well as its nonprofit store] ReStore.
Jonathan: Most people don't realize it, but ReStore is an actual hardware store you can go in to get either gently used products or sometimes brand-new. They have fantastic prices, and, of course, all the money generated from the store goes right back to Habitat. It's a phenomenal thing.
What other advice do you have to stretch a reno budget?
Drew: One of the best ways is using prefab cabinets. The quality of prefab is better than it ever was before. On "Property Brothers," about 80% of the kitchens we do have prefab cabinets, where people think they're custom. But we just finish them to look custom, and then we'll spend a bit more money maybe on quartz countertops, which are zero-maintenance—you don't have to worry about continually resealing them.
What are some common mistakes that people make when buying a home?
Drew: The biggest mistake we see is that people go out and try to get a brand-new build, but that's tough because it's so expensive. Some people feel that an older house is too much work, and they can't handle it on their own.
So if you've taken on a fixer upper, what's the key to handling a renovation?
Jonathan: Hire a contractor. It can cost more to hire a contractor to do a project, but they're keeping you on budget and they're keeping you on schedule. They know when to get permits and when to bring in certain trades. If you try to handle that all on your own, you're going to end up blowing your budget, and it's just going to end up being more of a headache than you think it's worth.
What's your best advice for families moving into a new home?
Drew: It's so important for kids to feel like they're a part of the process of design decisions. So we always encourage parents; if you want your kids to feel excited about their space, give them "the illusion of choice," as we call it.
You may have already picked your palette, and you might be giving them a choice of two different colors within that palette. Say to them, "We want you to pick for your own room, do you want this color or this color?" That way it really makes them feel like they were part of making this house their home.
How can owning your own home change your life?
Jonathan: It's unbelievable, because it's not just about the house itself. It's also about creating and strengthening that family dynamic, which helps other things like education. Also, when you know you're an owner, as opposed to a renter, there's a certain pride of ownership that comes with that which helps ignite a fire within people to go and do something great with their own lives.
You can really see that with our homeowners Amanda and Ashlee today. They're beaming. Seeing them get hands-on experience while offering their children a beautiful place to live, it just warms your heart.