Chip and Joanna Gaines built a massively successful career out of remodeling not-so-great houses and turning them into dream homes on Fixer Upper. Though the popular HGTV show appears authentic, when you get behind the scenes of Fixer Upper, the cracks in the foundation appear. If you peel back the drywall and spackle, you discover how many of your favorite real estate shows manipulate the action. HGTV shows fake stuff all the time, and Fixer Upper is no exception.
Despite the show's relatively easygoing tone, Fixer Upper participants often encounter more difficulties than the show depicts. The Gaineses use a specific protocol for the show, but that never stopped Fixer Upper scandals from hitting the press. When it comes to things you never knew about the Gaines family and their hit show, it might just renovate your opinion of Fixer Upper.
Though the Gaineses seem to redo entire houses in Fixer Upper, they only remodel rooms that will get highlighted on TV. Rachel Whyte, who appeared on Season 3 of the show, revealed the couple just redid "the parts of our house that were seen on the show, as well as one additional bedroom."
In an interview, Joanna Gaines revealed a couple's budget determines whether she and her husband help finish renovations for the entire home, rather than just the priority rooms. "Other times, we finish the spaces for them after the reveal, and this is separate from the budget shown for TV," she explained.
The renovation budget on the series covers nothing more than the work itself - meaning the furniture shown in the reveal only exists for staging purposes and gets promptly removed after filming wraps. Contestants may provide enough of a budget for their home to receive furnishings they keep, but Joanna Gaines mostly dresses rooms with items from her own store, Magnolia Market.
"During production of the current season, the requirement was that a homeowner’s financial contribution be in proportion to the amount of renovations the home required," HGTV said in a statement about the show's policy regarding furniture.
It looks like Chip Gaines engages in all sorts of physical work on the show, but apparently, this only happens when the cameras roll. While not filming, Chip reportedly performs little-to-no manual labor. Though HGTV asks participants to avoid approaching their new home during renovations, one couple stayed right next door. Thanks to their unavoidable inside look at the off-screen building process, Lindy and Chris Ermoian said they never once saw Chip doing any work on the exterior of their renovated home.
Though much of the show is authentic, the truth gets muddied during the house-hunting process. One participant revealed the house clients "choose" is one they've already picked before the cameras begin rolling. As Season 3 participant David Ridley revealed:
You have to be under contract to be on the show. They show you other homes, but you already have one. After they select you, they send your house to Chip and Joanna [Gaines] and their design team.
The application process for the show includes several questions related to the house being renovated, confirming Ridley's claims that homes must be under contract before the show starts filming.