The Scott brothers are among a lineup of celebrity guests that includes Karl Champley, winner of Ellen Degeneres’ Design Challenge and star of the DIY Network TV show “Wasted Spaces”; Kansas City’s own Jennifer Bertrand, an “HGTV Design Star” winner; and Tamara Day, star of DIY Network’s new show “Bargain Mansions,” set to debut this fall.
The 38-year-old identical twins take over for Chip and Joanna Gaines, the wildly popular stars of HGTV’S “Fixer Upper.” The married couple, who drew thousands to their appearances at the past two Kansas City Home Shows, declined the invitation this year because of their increasingly busy schedules, which include their show, running a store and a bed and breakfast in Waco, Texas, publishing a quarterly magazine and designing a furniture line, all while raising four children. A restaurant in Waco is also in the works.
Drew and Jonathan answered the phone when I called, and I got them all to myself. They couldn’t have been more charming or unassuming.
Here’s what I learned. Jonathan was born four minutes before Drew, who likes to think he pushed his brother out of the womb.
“I was a surprise,” Drew said. “At the time, they didn’t do ultrasounds unless there was an emergency reason and our heart beats were in sync, so our mom thought she was having one big baby. The doctor had finished up and was ready to leave the delivery room and the nurses said, ‘Whoa, there’s another one coming.’ I like to say I was brought into the world with the words, ‘Oh (poop)!’ ”
Jonathan describes himself as a little more laid back than his brother.
“Drew is definitely more focused,” he says. “He and his girlfriend would work 24/7 if they could. And he’s very outgoing. If we walk into a party, he’ll run around the room and introduce himself to everyone. And I’ll stand in the corner.”
Both are 6-foot-5, health conscious (they have freshly prepared meals delivered to their hotels when traveling) and both have second-degree black belts in karate.
“We were both national champions,” says Jonathan. “I always won form kata and (Drew) would win kumate, which is sparring. I always worried about wrecking my hair so I wasn’t as good at sparring.”
The brothers have had offers to do other reality shows. They turned down competing on ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” because of time constraints, and Jonathan turned down starring on ABC’s “The Bachelor.”
“Just thinking about keeping track of 30 women at one time and thinking, ‘What did I do?’ That is not me,” says Jonathan. “Now if ‘The Amazing Race’ approached me and my girlfriend, that I would look at.”
Still, the Scott brothers are plenty busy. They star in five other HGTV shows — “Buying and Selling,” “Brother Vs. Brother,” “Property Brothers: At Home” “Property Brothers: At Home on the Ranch,” “Brothers Take New Orleans” — wrote a book, designed a furniture line and, last year, they wrote and recorded two country songs, “Hold On” and “Let the Night Shine In.”
“We love what we do. This is the perfect calling,” says Jonathan. “Most hosts do 13 to 26 hours of original programming for HGTV a year. We do more than 50 hours of original programming.”
They spend about eight weeks on each home they renovate for “Property Brothers,” and Jonathan oversees five full-time crews working on the homes for all the shows.
“It really has become a well-oiled machine,” Jonathan says. “We’ve raised the bar with everything we’re doing and never leave homeowners high and dry. We work with local contractors and Realtors so there’s someone left behind to take care of homeowners after we’ve moved on.”
The Scotts, who were born in Vancouver and grew up in rural Canada, bought and renovated their first home at age 18 as a way to support themselves as they pursued acting careers.
Drew says they’ve always been outside-the-box thinkers, and they looked to their parents, who had done well in real estate, for a way to earn money. They watched a lot of infomercials for making millions of dollars with no money down which, of course, were filled with lots of misinformation. But they gleaned enough to learn how to assume a mortgage without a credit history and about vendor take-back mortgages, which allow sellers to lend money to the buyers to help them buy the house.
“So, we were only out of pocket $250 for a $200K home, and we fixed it all up and sold it for a $50,000 profit a year later. Today you can’t assume mortgages, but there are still a million ways to buy a home for little money.”
They continued flipping houses while pursuing their other interests for several years, but were doing so well at the flipping that they eventually decided to focus all their attention on it. In 2004, they founded Scott Real Estate Inc., which buys, sells and renovates homes. Jonathan was already a licensed contractor, and Drew was a real estate agent by this time.
“What you see on ‘Property Brothers’ is what we were doing before the show was pitched to us,” Jonathan says.
In 2010 Cineflix Media, a reality show production company in Canada, approached Drew about hosting a real estate show in a format similar to “American Idol.”
“He called and said ‘I landed a show, it’s called “Realtor Idol,” ’ ” recalls Jonathan. “There was a pause, and I was like, ‘That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.’ ”
The show never materialized, but when Cineflix heard that Drew had a twin brother, they came up with the idea for “Property Brothers.”
HGTV originally passed on the show, the brothers noted. Figuring that two good-looking brothers might go over well with women, the W Network in Canada picked up the show.
The show sprang to number one for the network within weeks. HGTV eventually took notice. It’s been one of the network’s top-rated shows since.
Drew had to leave the call halfway through our interview, but Jonathan said one of the things they’ll talk about at the Kansas City Home Show is how to stretch a budget by doing low-cost projects with a big impacts.
“One of easiest ways is two-tone kitchens,” he says. “The upper cabinets are a different color than the lower or the island is different than the cabinets. That’s a designer touch.
“Most people on ‘Property Brothers’ don’t have a big enough budget for custom cabinets. So most of the cabinets we install cost $5,000 to $8,000 off the shelf and I custom-finish them with moldings, trim and paint. Then we invest in stone counters and high-end appliances.”
Jonathan said he and Drew will probably also sing a song or two.
“We will also show funny behind -the-scenes video and make fun of Drew a lot,” he adds.
Greater Kansas City Home Show
Where: Bartle Hall, 301 W. 13th St., Kansas City
When: Noon-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $7, St. Patrick’s Day special (Friday only) at KCHomeShow.com; $12 in advance online and at Price Chopper stores; $15 at the door; kids 12 and under free
The Property Brothers: 2 p.m., Saturday on the main stage; VIP book-signing to immediately follow, $55 (includes admission).