Paul and Amanda Najera of Clovis recently purchased a vacation rental in nearby Shaver Lake, but unlike most locals purchasing a home or home-away-from-home in the sierras, the couple’s real estate search and purchase was all caught on film for an episode of the popular HGTV show “House Hunters.”
As HGTV fans know, “House Hunters” features families as they tour three candidate properties in the area of their choice. Often, spouses are shown debating on various aspects of the critical decision—one wants a place close to town, while the other wants it remote or she must have an open concept kitchen, while he is more focused on having a spacious backyard, garage space, or man cave. These little disagreements create the drama of the show but by the end, couples or families are shown reaching a compromise and agreeing on one of the three homes.
For Paul and Amanda, who’s winter-themed episode will air for the third time on Oct. 29 and likely several times this November and December, the debate was: Should there be a fire pit and hot tub? She said yes—or not—he said no because of the liability if it is a rental. Ultimately, the home the couple selected had neither, but Paul recently appeased Amanda by installing an outdoor fire pit. Both have since agreed on nixing the hot tub idea.
One of the behind-the-scenes secrets of the show is that hot tub/fire pit issue wasn’t really that big of a deal for Amanda, it was just dramatized for the camera—a fact most frequent viewers have already noticed about the show. It is, after all, entertainment.
But all embellishments aside, the Clovis couple said it was most surprised by how long it took to shoot the 22-minute episode—a full five days, 40 hours worth of take after take.
“The reason it takes so long is you walk into every room in the house, every living space, every bathroom and you have to do the take three times, so every time we walk in the room it’s like, ‘Do it again, do it again,’ and I thought, ‘Are we really that bad at this?’ But, finally we realized they want the best cut of every area and pick the best dialogue of every scene,” Paul said.
Then, after wrapping up shooting and the purchase of the house, the Najeras had three weeks to renovate as much as they could before the video camera crew returned to film the “where they are now” segment at the end of the show.
With a newborn baby at the time (Feb. 2017) and an abundance of snow, getting any renovating in time was a challenge.
“There was a crazy amount of snow last year. So, we were trying to coordinate our contractors through Home Depot and Icon Construction & Design here in town and to get those guys up there with all the snow it was just like delay after delay. They couldn’t get the trucks up because of the snow and then we can’t put the backsplash in until the countertops are in but the countertops can’t get their truck up so it was a cascading effect,” Paul said. “So, they came up for the second shoot and the place is a disaster, the ceiling is ripped open, the fireplace is a disaster and is all taped up and it’s even harder because it’s been snowing and raining so they want to keep all the materials inside. It was like a war zone.”
Today, however, the cozy Shaver Lake cabin they chose is now a full-fledged AirBnb property complete with a fully renovated kitchen and gorgeous stone fireplace. The only thing left to upgrade is the bathrooms, but that’s a project the couple is waiting to take on until next summer.
While Amanda wasn’t originally so keen on a fixer-upper, the self-proclaimed HGTV fan, who is obsessed with interior designs inspired by Joanna Gaines, said she quickly changed her tune when she realized she could create the home she wanted.
“In the episode you’ll see I was very adamant about how I didn’t want a fixer upper, but once we got it and I got to choose all the different design features I wanted, it was great,” Amanda said.
While being on “House Hunters” took away some of the magic of the show for the couple, they said they hope to appear on a future episode that highlights the finished renovation.
“They say that episode is a lot easier because it’s only one day of shooting instead of five days,” Paul said.
As for the two homes the Najeras didn’t choose in the episode, Paul and Amanda said both were contenders, one just wasn’t right as a rental property and was too far from town, while the other, while turnkey ready, was over budget and didn’t quite have the exterior charm of the cottage style home they bought. All and all, the couple has no regrets about the choice they made.
“I love that the home was one story, even though it is small at only 1,050 square feet, it feels larger than it is,” Amanda said. “Then the location is perfect. When we were looking, I was all about being far away and I didn’t want to be around anyone but I’m glad we went with this because it is so easy with the stroller I can just walk right into town in the morning and get a cup of coffee at the local Blue Sky Café. We were just so excited right after we bought it that we just wanted to stay up there all the time. I think we spent almost the whole summer there.”