Photo by High Noon/Discovery+, courtesy Two Chicks and a Hammer
Happy premiere day! Good Bones is heading into a six-week break as Mina Hawk’s new show, Good Bones: Risky Business, takes over the time slot in the meantime. Your recappers, contributing editor Megan Fernandez and art director Kristin Sims, chatted with Mina before the premiere aired. Here’s what happened in the first episode.
Risky Business is all about getting real. It’s grittier and more dramatic than Good Bones, a function of spending six weeks on one house instead of editing one project down to a single episode. This house also happens to be the biggest renovation that Two Chicks and a Hammer has ever tackled—it’s a 23-room Victorian that will need around $600,000 of work, on top of the $190,000 purchase price.
For Mina, this is a passion project. The house has been sitting empty for many years in her own neighborhood, Fountain Square, and she wants to create a special venue both for the city and her family’s legacy. Also, she can unleash design skills that we don’t get to see when she is renovating houses to put on the market.
All of this brings out Mina’s alter ego: “Mina Risky Business Starsiak Hawk—no hyphens!”
Megan: So, we’re looking at 23 rooms across 5,500 square feet in a three-story main house and 2,500 square feet in a carriage house with shed addition. The vision is for this to become an event space with five suites in the main house and three more in the carriage house.
Kristin: She walks through with Rod Collier of Rottmann Collier Architects, their regular consultants, explaining that this once-grand family home has been destroyed by squatters and a fire. But you can still see enchanting details, including a turret and dental molding. Mina calls it her castle.
Megan: The house also had a parlor and a library. Mina envisions a speakeasy in the basement. Somehow, Mina looks at charred, toppling walls and sees “so much charm.” Do you?
Kristin: I think the whole thing is charming. If I had $600,000, I’d try it. You know I’ve always wanted a bed-and-breakfast.
Megan: And I’ve been an Airbnb host. This will actually function as an Airbnb, not a traditional bed-and-breakfast. In fact, it’s already fully booked in October. If you don’t mind a spoiler, you can see the house listing here. It rents for $1,200 per night for the whole house and carriage house, or $800 for the carriage house alone.
Kristin: But don’t look! Unless you want to book it, then you better. Otherwise, the show will reveal the house to us space by space. This week, they start with the carriage house. Mina wants to get this open as an event space in eight weeks so the property can start generating income.
Megan: Yes, it sounds like she has emptied the company coffers to fund this project. She is using a general contractor rather than the regular Good Bones Demo Boys on her payroll because they are too busy. If the house doesn’t start bringing in revenue, Mina could be paying salaries out of her own pocket. Is the money the scary part?
Kristin: I think it’s all scary—scary to embark on a project that Rod says is “easily $600K,” and with the looks of it, anything could go wrong. In fact, before we know it, work on the carriage house is halted for weeks because of permits. The eight-week goal is looking unlikely.
Megan: I’m thinking we’re going to say goodbye to the speakeasy. It’s so secret it doesn’t even exist!
Kristin: Ooh, clever!
Megan: MJ and Mina go on a scouting mission to the Biltwell Event Center on the southwest edge of downtown. It’s a huge industrial reuse, and the owner gives them a tour and some trade secrets. The Biltwell has a large parking lot, while the Victorian is in a neighborhood. Where will wedding parties park?
Kristin: Another good question. Where will the Airbnb guests park, let alone event guests? I wonder if they own an adjacent lot. Maybe we need to do a drive-by!
Megan: I’ve actually been there. I interviewed Mina on the set for a story in the spring of 2021, which tells you how long this project has been in progress. I don’t remember an empty lot, but I’m sure they will work it out. Meanwhile, they are finding cool ideas at the Biltwell, like a rolling wine-glass wall that makes handing out drinks easier. What would you call it?
Kristin: It looks like a moveable wall filled with wooden wine glass holders, backed by faux greenery. Good idea, and it probably comes in handy unless someone hokey-pokeys into it.
Megan: That’s one for the Farmers Insurance Hall of Fame. Mina and MJ love that Biltwell put a settee in its huge service elevator for photos. What they don’t love is that another week goes by without progress on the carriage house construction. But Mina is done waiting. She decides to start demo’ing the front yard of the house with her site superintendent, Thomas (new guy alert).
Kristin: She gets in an excavator and begins tearing up the concrete and the sidewalk. But, oops, Thomas points out that she doesn’t have a contract for this. It’s not on the demo plan. Mina is in big trouble.
Megan: It looks like there was a communication breakdown between her, the general contractor, and Thomas about what exactly to break up and move. This gets testy, with Thomas talking smack about Mina on the phone with his boss. Finley, the Two Chicks chief of staff, runs interference and tells Mina that this could cost $15,000 in fines. Mina’s point is that all the concrete has to be replaced one way or another, and they have the excavator now, so they might as well get it done.
Kristin: Why would you rent an excavator when you know you are waiting on permits? My first thought was, “Would Mina get such grief if she were male?” But then I sided with Thomas, as he’s just doing his job. Overall, I didn’t like the way Mina and new guy Thomas spoke to each other.
Megan: Real fights aren’t a part of Good Bones, but I bet butting heads happens a lot in home renovation. It makes me admire how much Mina has accomplished working in a male-dominated industry. At the very least, Thomas is not getting a charitable edit.
Kristin: It felt like something must have happened before the whole concrete dispute because that was a big escalation, fast.
Megan: While Mina and her husband Steve take a tattoo break at The Rue Morgue studio to have their daughter’s name inked, Finley sorts the concrete debacle and got it added to the plan without paying $15,000. The crew is back at work.
Kristin: She said they didn’t pay $15,000, but maybe they had to pay $14,999.
Megan: You sound like a lawyer. Did you just pass the bar? More trouble: The cool overhead garage doors that Mina wants on the carriage house event space are backordered for 18 weeks. She just keeps saying, “No. No. NO.”
Kristin: Ironically, her son, Jack, is with her in this scene—usually it’s the toddlers repeating “no.”
Megan: I wonder how much Mina has to put her foot down and force things to happen when the contractors aren’t nearly as invested as she is in the results. Relying on other people, especially older men, has to be one of the hardest aspects of this business. Why aren’t there any female contractors?
Kristin: There are. They’re just all on HGTV. Alternate answer: Because no one will listen to them.
Megan: Iron Timbers always acts respectfully. Can’t they whip up these garage doors?
Kristin: I guess not, but in the preview for the season, it looks like they create some cool stair rails.
Megan: Steve, Mr. Risky Business Starsiak Hawk, also gives men a good name on Good Bones. He and Mina take a walk-through of the carriage house while she explains the vision—and that she wants to name the whole venue Charlotte Hall, after their daughter. Steve is tearing up! He has lost his mom, dad, and sister in the last few years, putting into perspective how important Mina, Jack, and Charlotte are to him. He’s so touched by having a legacy to pass along to the kids.
Kristin: Those kids have some big shoes to fill.
Megan: Mina explains to Steve that the window openings on the second floor will be romantic Juliet balconies with French doors, but in the next scene, she finds Thomas installing windows there instead. When Mina says they don’t go there, Thomas kind of blows her off and says, “Yeah, they do. They’re on your drawings.” Cut to the footage of the general contractor agreeing that the balconies are going in that spot. Busted. Maybe.
Kristin: Or maybe just bad communication. Thomas can only do what he has the plans for. I’m trying for you, Thomas, but the condescending tone isn’t helping.
Megan: That tone. Mina must have to tune it out.
Kristin: But again, and hearkening back to episodes a few weeks ago, how can things get this far off plan? Windows take time to order, to arrive, to install—and no one had even cut the bricks down for the Juliet balcony by this point. How does the miscommunication span that amount of time?
Megan: Can’t blame Cory this time. He’s not around.
Kristin: That’s where the premiere ends. The preview shows Thomas saying, “Here’s what’s going to happen. We’re going to stop work.” And he walks off. He’s wearing the same shirt, by the way. Do you think he owns another shirt?
Megan: Well, now I have to defend Thomas. The cast often has to wear the same clothes day after day so the editors have continuity. After a hard day’s work, they all have to go home and do laundry.
Kristin: In another preview clip for this season, an old guy tells Mina, “I’ve been doing this before you were even born.” Nice. I bet she gets plenty of mansplaining. But the old guy hasn’t been doing it Mina’s way!
Megan: Nope. And we know her way works. Even when it’s risky. See you next week!