Have you ever watched HGTV and wanted to ask questions? What if you got to ask an HGTV contractor all about home renovations and insider tips? I did!
While Sailing with the Scotts last year, I had the chance to meet several fun people, including Tracy, the contractor for the show Brother vs Brother, with the Property Brothers. Tracy and his wife Kim were a TON of fun, and I’m happy we’ve stayed in touch.
Psst! Read all about the cruise here!
So, several weeks ago, I was binge watching Brother vs Brother season 4. I spent a few of the episodes texting with Tracy when suddenly one night, I had an idea. I don’t know about you, but watching nearly any HGTV renovation show leaves me with so many questions about home renovations and updates I could be making in my own home! I sent Tracy a text asking if he would be interested in letting me interview him on behalf of HGTV viewers everywhere. . . and he agreed!
Actually, Tracy suggested I include Drew Scott in the interview, and managed to snag me a few minutes of Drew’s time while on set in New Orleans for the upcoming show Brothers Take New Orleans.
Once I’d gotten a few minutes with Drew, it was time for my main interview, with Tracy. Here’s a little background on this very talented and funny contractor first:
Tracy Trollier, also known as “ The Poser” according to Drew Scott, is the owner of Meridian Construction Company Inc. in Las Vegas, NV since 2005. Here’s his story:
Tracy started in construction in his high school years for his father, who was a general contractor in Oregon in the late 70’s. He moved to Las Vegas in the early 80’s to go to work for his relatives, who were developers. He started as their framing foreman, building tract homes. He met Randy Schaefer – who at the time was an up and coming developer – and knew right away he wanted to work for him. It took some persuading though, as he wasn’t hiring. So he went to his office 3 times a week until, as Randy says, “I either have to hire you or call the cops”. He was with Randy 18 years and considers him his mentor – until he got the itch in 2005 to start his own company. He started building custom homes and commercial buildings right away, until the economy crashed. He would have built a dog house for someone during those years. He got his big “break” with the Property Brothers show Brother vs. Brother 3 in 2015 and was asked back for Brother vs. Brother 4 in 2016.
Tracy’s hobbies include anything outdoors; quad riding, snowmobiling, fishing, hiking, good wine, and great whiskey. ( not sure if the last 2 qualify)
He’s been married to his wife Kim for 32 years. (Met her and a month later we were engaged) Tracy has two daughters, Kristy and Katy. Kristy resides in Park City, Utah with her husband Luke. She pretty much takes after her old man, hobby-wise, but is significantly better at two things. ( He’ll let you guess which two). Katy resides in Sterling, Colorado with her husband Brian. They are currently pregnant with Tracy and Kim’s first grand-daughter, Kennedy.
So let’s see what Tracy had to say about home renovations, working with “The Brothers”, and being an HGTV contractor, shall we? (Stay tuned for Drew Scott to make a return and Jonathan Scott to jump in as well!)
What sort of projects would you recommend a homeowner NEVER diy?
Tracy: NEVER diy tearing down walls or trying to do your own thing. Lots of people don’t know, maybe that might be a load bearing wall that could come down, something above you could come down, things like that. I’ve actually done projects where homeowners have started something that, they should have never started. Usually it’s something with tearing down a wall and they get into trouble. Maybe a beam being involved, or electrical, things like that. Have professionals do that kind of thing.
So then what would be a good first timer DIY project for a homeowner?
Tracy: Anything they can handle easily. I mean, painting, putting up different moldings, things like that. It’s usually pretty easy stuff. When you start changing doors or putting up cabinets, you should really get some professional advice at least.
What would you say is the biggest return on your investment that a homeowner can do on a budget?
Tracy: Boy, that’s kind of a Drew question. He’s still here. (turns to Drew) What would be the biggest one, you think? Return investment for a DIY project?
Drew: The thing to do is make sure you’re not overspending on a high-end look. So, for example, in a kitchen – if someone wants to get the most bang for their buck, you could look at spending less on the cabinets. Pre-fab cabinets are better now than they ever were. You save a bit of money on the pre-fab and then you can end up spending a little more money on your counter tops, so that you get the wow factor of the stone. You could even – if you have an island – you can look at doing a butcher block on the island, which is a lot less expensive than stone. Yet, if it’s done right, you still have a designer look. There are a lot of little things like that. Light fixtures? A brighter space makes it look more spacious and more valuable. So spending a little bit on getting a bit brighter rooms, doesn’t cost a lot but can go a long way. Lighter color palette as well.
Excellent, ok! Tracy, what would you say is the biggest issue you typically run into on a renovation?
Tracy: You know, usually when you’re tearing down walls, usually it’s plumbing or electrical issues. Especially on Brother vs Brother, before we got into it, found out all the ceiling fans in the house were wired with electrical cords up in the attic. So things like electrical and plumbing can be a big issue. It was on this show, more than it showed on TV, but we had some issues in there with electrical.
When you’re on the show, you know, on Brother vs Brother, things seem to move pretty fast, and I know you guys have those hectic schedules and deadlines that you set. What would be a realistic schedule for, let’s say, a single room, kitchen renovation? Assuming you have an average sized kitchen?
Tracy: I always give myself six to eight weeks. You know, because of the shoot schedule on Brother vs Brother, we’re only allowed to do one room at a time. So, you’re starting; you’re demoing everything, you’re renovating the whole room, you’re staging it, you’re shooting it…and then you’re taking all that stuff out and you’re tearing out another wall right next to it and moving on to the next section. So I think it takes us three months to do the show. Now, if I was in there, doing the whole house, not for TV. . . um, I could do that renovation, I could do it in probably two months. If you can do it all at one time. So, for like a kitchen? I’m doing three kitchen remodels right now. I always say six to eight weeks for a good-sized kitchen. A smaller one, like maybe on the show? I could get it done in three to four weeks. That’s of course, if you’re sitting down with homeowners and designers (if they have them) and you get everything picked out, you get everything ordered, you don’t make any changes, and you have a good game plan, you have good subs…you can get in and get it done fairly quickly.
Do you ever make the design decisions? Or is there always a designer involved as well?
Tracy: No, I can make design decisions. I’m more of a builder. I don’t give my opinion, unless they ask me…and if they think they need designers, you know, we do have a design team we work with, two or three design teams that I can recommend. Simple things I can recommend, but when it gets into more detailed stuff, like furniture? I SUCK at furniture by the way. Don’t even ask me. I mean, don’t. “So, hey, what kind of couch?” NO. Not giving you NO advice there. I’d really screw things up. You know, I do give advice on cabinet colors, tiles, granite…things I know more about. Furniture and paint? I’m terrible at that. Just ask Kim. I’m not allowed to make any decisions at my house about that. Nope.
Do renovation budgets typically include new furniture and accent pieces, such as we see on the show?