The Winnipeg Home and Garden Show blooms with inspiration

Spring has finally sprung, and along with the return of warmer weather comes the return of the annual Winnipeg Home and Garden Show.

The Home and Garden Show runs from April 13-16 at the RBC Convention Centre, and shouldn’t be missed. This show offers the opportunity to explore the latest trends in home improvement, interior design, gardening and landscaping, with more than 240+ trusted brands and companies participating. As always, the show will feature appearances from the biggest names in the industry.

HGTV Canada’s Randy Spracklin, host of Rock Solid Builds, Heather and Nathan Porteous from HGTV Canada’s Hoarder House Flippers, and Insta-famous organizer Megan Golightly of Simplified, will join a line-up of local favourites on the Subaru Main Stage to deliver insight on all things home and garden.

The Winnipeg Regional Real Estate News was lucky enough to catch up to Randy Spracklin, as well as Winnipeg siblings Heather and Nathan Porteous, and asked all three some questions about how they got into this business.

Randy Spracklin

How did you get started in the business? Where did the interest come from?

Building has always been in my blood. I am a third generation builder, so I grew up watching my grandfather, my uncle, my father building and renovating homes. When I was in school, I was always drawing up plans. I loved going to the job sites to watch how things were done. I did try other things and moved out west for a bit, just like a lot of Newfoundlanders do, but it wasn’t for me. I missed the ocean, so I came back and joined the family business. It was a small company, and I had a lot of big ideas on how to grow it. So I eventually took over the business and it’s been both challenging and rewarding. I’m glad I did it. Maybe my son or daughter will be the next generation to take over the business. 

 What is your favourite tool and why?

My hands, because I love going from an idea in my head, putting that idea onto paper, and then going from paper to wood. Being a builder gives me so much creativity, and that’s what I love. If you can think it, I can build it.

How is building a home on bedrock different than on a basement foundation?

We actually do have basements in Newfoundland, depending on where you build. But when we hit bedrock, we will lay the foundation directly on the bedrock and bolt it in. If it’s a mix of soil and bedrock, then we may blast out a section of bedrock and pour the foundation, or we can use parts of the bedrock as the foundation. Rock is solid, and the best foundation, so if that foundation sinks, the whole island sinks.

What differences and challenges do you feel there are between building where you are and building on the prairies?

Living on an island in the North Atlantic, there’s only 2 ways to get materials — by boat and by plane. So that’s a big challenge here. I see the weather reports across the country, and we both face some extremes, especially in the winter, but we also face high winds on a regular basis. So we make some adjustments to account for this, such as adding extra nails and gum to shingles. But building foundations might be a bit different here compared to the prairies since we live on one large rock. 

What are the newest building trends you are seeing? Especially around “green” initiatives.

If you’re renovating your house or building from the ground up, everyone wants their home to be energy efficient. This is not a new trend, but a consistent request I get from homeowners. It’s a big investment renovating or building a home, so when you move in, you don’t want to pay a lot of money for heat or electricity. From what’s inside the walls, to what’s on the walls, it’s about using materials that will save you money in the long run.  I’ve been putting in a lot of mini splits (heating and cooling units), smart thermostats, and LED lighting that helps your pocket book. I also like to reuse and repurpose materials where I can.

We understand you have an artistic flair. Can you share a BIG idea on how to add some flair to an existing or new home?

I’m not sure how big this idea is, but when you’re about to get into a renovation or build a new home, ask yourself a couple of questions — what makes you happy and what inspires you? Then find a way to put it in your home. Create a feature in your home that makes a statement about you. Don’t be afraid to take some risks.

When I meet homeowners for the first time, whether they are renovating or building new, I like to find out more about them, their wishlists and must-haves. Then I like looking at the surroundings inside and out. I get a lot of my inspiration from the location and its history.  So if I can add a bit of old to the new, that’s where I love to use more of my artistic flair.

Bonus question: One place you want to visit while in Winnipeg that you will tell others about!

When we build in Newfoundland, we work up an appetite so it’s all about the feeds (aka meals) for us. I’ve heard a lot about the good feeds in Winnipeg. If time, I want to check out the Bridge Drive-In and order up a Goog Special, and for dessert, I’ve heard you have to have Jeanne’s cake that has a shortbread bottom. The challenge for me, do I choose marble or banana flavour? 

Heather and Nathan Porteous

How did you get into flipping hoarder houses? How long have you been doing this?

We bought our first hoarded house at the beginning of 2020 and it was quite an experience! We are still using toilet paper from that house! We do not solely flip hoards but definitely keep our eyes open for them as it seems to be the type of listings others shy away from. We have been flipping together for about 5 years.

Which was your favourite house to flip and why?

I think our favourite house to date was one we did in Southdale. We were just able to add so many custom and unique ideas and touches to it that it remains up there! Nathan will tell you it was because it had an intercom system so he was able to share his wit with me without having to find me.

What is it like working on a TV show with your sibling?

I think we work together quite well! Now don’t get me wrong, there is yelling, finger pointing and stubbornness, but we are a very close family and we work problems out quickly. We are very lucky in the fact that the TV show we were cast for honesty follows our regular life, so the TV aspect has not been very impactful yet, just another work day.

What is the most interesting item you’ve ever salvaged from a hoarder’s home?

Ugh! This is hard! I honestly have tons of items I have incorporated into my own home that we keep from flips, from housewares to clothing to furniture I repurpose. I am an avid reader and have kept 100s of books, too. Nathan has a set of Winnipeg Blue Bomber cups that he will never give up! There have been so many interesting items over the years though.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to buy a flip, what to avoid, and on designing for potential buyers?

For our first bunch of flips, we avoided anything with structural damage (cracks, big leans, foundation issues); there are just too many unknowns and very hard to budget for, and the budget is what’s going to make you successful in this business. So start off realistically and get ready to learn.

When it comes to design, if it’s your first few flips, get ready to get impersonal. It’s so easy to say but so hard to do. You will invest your time, money, ideas and heart into the project and get emotionally involved. That’s not to say don’t add a unique design to flips, because we think that that is totally necessary. Buyers are looking for little wow factors and thoughtful design, and looking for a home, not a house.

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