TV Element Adds Challenges for Everyone

Designing and building a custom home is challenging enough when the only eyes scrutinizing your work are those of the homeowners. So how does a project change when millions of eyes are watching your every move, week after week, on a television show?

For architects and builders used to working with high-end clients, meeting high expectation levels should be nothing new. The main difference working on the HGTV Dream Home project is the priority placed on being a good neighbor. 

“When you start construction, excavation’s the first thing, so it’s gonna create dust. So you want to keep the dust down, especially when the neighbor that’s next to this lot has a swimming pool. So we try to minimize the dust so it doesn’t get in the swimming pool or even fly around to a neighbor’s house. That’s the first thing we do,” says Bruce Lee, 2009 HGTV Dream Home builder.

Lee keeps dust to a minimum by running sprinklers over the site, he says. Noise is another side effect of construction so Lee’s team strictly adheres to the time schedule the city has allotted. Keeping the site clean, not letting papers fly around and getting materials cleaned up help create a professional atmosphere for people who drive or walk by, Lee adds. “They don’t want to have a messy job site. They don’t want to be looking at that. And it’s also great to have that because it keeps the job safe, too,” he says.

Developer Steve Ledson likes to approach each job as if he was the neighbor next door. “We make sure that we keep the grounds clean, make sure that we don't have excessive noise, we don't play loud music. I just think about it as if I'm the guy that's living next door and somebody else is building. That's kind of simple in life. Don't do something to somebody else that you wouldn't want done to yourself,” Ledson says.

Publicity isn’t bad, either

Builder Bruce Lee is following his passion in life – building custom homes. However, being chosen to build the 2009 HGTV Dream Home adds a special element to his work. The architectural style of the home is one Lee is familiar with, he says, so it was a good fit when HGTV approached him for this job. “Yeah, it's exciting. You know, building these types of homes are really a passion for us because you can be creative,” he says.

And for someone 20 years into a career, it provides an extra boost of excitement and enthusiasm when a major television show chronicles your work. “I told friends and family about it, and they're excited about it, and it's something that really helps out your career because you're able to do something that's really exciting,” he explains.

Does the fact that millions of eyeballs will be watching Lee work add pressure to the situation? “This is something obviously new to me, being on camera, being interviewed. That's something that’s not usually done in the construction business. But it's similar in a lot of ways because you have to explain things to the homeowner and the people that you work for. So it's a little different, you know, the question-and-answer thing. But it's actually been really exciting. It's been a joy working on it and moving forward.”

Being a general contractor is a little like being a TV host because you're always informing people about what you're doing, Lee says. “You're always being asked questions about certain things, how they apply, the cost of them, the efficiency of them. So you're always being interviewed or asked those questions by either the homeowner or the person you work for.”

As different and special as building the HGTV Dream Home is, it’s also similar to building homes for everyday clients. “It's a lot alike in some ways, but I think in other ways, it is different,” Ledson says. “The home we're building here, we're building it with a lot of other people's products that might be different than what I use, which, in a sense, adds maybe some more character, some more diversity to a home. If I would be working with a client, they would be using pretty much all of my subs, all of my suppliers. So that part is different. It's exciting to me. It's challenging to me because I always like a new challenge. I like something different, and I'll probably learn some new things from it.”