Hilary Farr, designer and co-host of Love It or List It, chatted with VH1 Celebrity about the show, which is the highly addictive HGTV program where her and David Visentin go into homes to homeowners decide whether their current place is right for them. Now on her fifth season, Farr opens about the homeowners, who always have something to say to the designer, the worst homes she had to renovate and hoarders.
VH1 Celebrity: It seems that many homes have serious structural issues that you have to deal with. Should we be concerned about the housing code in Canada?
Hilary Farr: First of all, hang on a minute. Generally we are talking about structural issues once I start to take down walls that were meant to stay there. Right? So that’s a big issue. We get into these older homes where I want to take down a wall that was never meant to come down. So the house was built perfectly well thank you very much then I’m starting to mess around with it. That’s where we come up with issues because the code was obviously a lot more loosey-goosey a hundred years ago or even forty years ago or even probably twenty years ago than it is now. There are requirements now that weren’t even in existence in older homes.
Having said that, some of the newer builds, there’s no question. A couple that we have come across that are twenty years old, which is not really old. There have been some negative builders out there. But nothing has fallen down yet.
You once had to go on a roof deck to tell the homeowners that the deck could collapse at any time. Couldn’t you have told them from inside?
You know what I hadn’t thought of that but thanks for bringing it up. I will add danger money to my contract.
Are you always surprised by the homeowners reactions when you give them bad news?
Well I don’t necessarily expect them to understand or realize there are issues to the extent I do or we ultimately discover. I do expect them to go, “That’s interesting. How are we going to solve that?”, as opposed to railing at me for the fact that their houses are sub standard in some way. It’s always a surprise to me. The anger, the disappointment and all of those other things that come into play. But then again I always have this little sort of moment of forgiveness in that they lived in these houses for quite awhile and it seemed perfectly fine to them and you do get used to deficiencies. I think we all do at some point. And I come in and I rip it apart and then I give them bad news and they’re on camera when I give it to them.
Has there ever been a homeowner that you wanted to yell back at?
This is why we have editors.
You’re always very composed.
I mostly am cause of two reasons. One, certainly at this point, I am so used to it and I’m almost expecting it. I am almost shocked if I get a calm, normal reaction. So that’s one part of it. The other part of it is that really it doesn’t matter how angry they are, or how insulting, or how annoying. I know that I don’t have to be best friends with these people. I simply have to make the house work, win the day, win my points, my wins against David. That alone makes it worthwhile. I really just have to get on with the job. I have learned not to take it personally.