Photo by The Home Aesthetic
WE SUSPEND our regular greeting of “Happy”–something this week because happiness is in short supply on Good Bones: Risky Business. At least after two episodes. Your recappers, contributing editor Megan Fernandez and art director Kristin Sims, are just happy we don’t work in home construction. This show, a six-week spinoff, is making it look like endless frustration and sure bankruptcy.
Quick reminder: Risky Business focuses on Mina Hawk’s passion project in Fountain Square, where she lives. It’s her largest and most expensive renovation yet at nearly $1 million, and so far, it’s a disaster. The general contractor fell behind schedule immediately, work stopped for weeks, she doesn’t get along with the site contractor, and she’s worried about floating the project financially until it (an event space and rental house) can start generating money. She might have to dip into her family’s savings, funds that could be hard to recoup.
So, it’s stressful.
Megan: We left off last week with phase one, the carriage house, well behind schedule, but Mina is pushing forward with plans to use it as an event space. And hopefully soon, so it can start bringing in revenue to pay for the main-house renovations. Mina brings in an event planner named Bridget to walk the space and provide feedback on the business idea.
Kristin: I would think that the whole place will need a manager—Airbnbs don’t clean themselves. Let alone the event space. Megan, you have an Airbnb space—granted, nothing like this, but how do you feel about notifying guests about events going on in the backyard?
Megan: You’re talking about guests in the main house and the carriage house’s upstairs suites—while there might be an event on the little lawn. I would definitely tell the guests up front. It didn’t occur to me that they would rent the event space separately from the house. I assumed wedding parties would rent the whole shebang.
Kristin: That might be what Mina originally envisioned, but Bridget tells her that the 75-person venue is better suited for corporate events and fundraisers. Bridget’s smallest weddings have 150 guests.
Megan: It doesn’t seem likely that fundraisers and corporate events would need five to eight overnight suites, which the property will have between the main house and the carriage house.
Kristin: That’s what I’m talking about. So if I was the neighbor, I would turn my house into an Airbnb so that it pops up on the site as an option right next door!
Megan: Shrewd. Actually, that would still be smart if the space were a wedding venue, because some out-of-town guests would want to stay nearby.
Kristin: But it’s hard to envision any event happening here, or any cause for celebration on this property, because things are going very badly. The communication problems we saw last week between Mina and site coordinator Thomas continue, and the carriage house falls further behind schedule. Mina is moving ahead with framing out the main house, but she doesn’t have the money in the budget to pay for it unless she sells a kidney or uses Jack’s college fund.
Megan: What about the Demo Boys calendar? How many would they have to sell to save Jack’s future?
Kristin: Did you see the calendar? They’d need to sell a LOT!
Megan: Thomas is in no mood for Demo Boys tomfoolery. He and Mina argue about the HVAC. She thinks the plans are correct, but he says they won’t accomplish what she wants, which is individual climate control in each suite. She’s having a hard time believing that.
Kristin: He says, “Do you understand HVAC?” She answers yes, and he retorts, “Then why aren’t you installing it?”
Megan: I’m already fed up with him and he has only been on screen about 10 minutes total.
Kristin: It seems like the disconnect is that the contractors Mina hired have the run of the place, and she’s weighed down by the site manager.
Megan: It’s definitely harder than working with her own Two Chicks and a Hammer crew.
Kristin: She calls the contractor from her car, and a cameraman is standing by the passenger-side window. She says, “What are you doing?” He says, “Rolling.”
Megan: I love this because it reminded me that the cameras probably add a lot of stress. She doesn’t see the episode before we do—if they film it, they can use it. She spells out her frustrations to her contractor over the phone with a few tears.
Kristin: Isn’t that Steve’s job?
Megan: He doesn’t get to be the crier this week. She needs his support.
Kristin: Mina takes a break to spend some family time with the kids in her backyard. She and hubby have a chat while bubbles float around the four of them. Steve helps talk her off the ledge—
Megan: The Juliet balcony.
Kristin: —and we get to thank the stars that Steve has gone back to his natural hair color.
Megan: They can’t afford salon appointments these days.
Kristin: Not with an HVAC backordered for a month. Things are “spiraling down a not-doing-it-right” path. Mina is most frustrated that no one is trying to problem-solve. She wants more cooperation from the crew.
Megan: I get that Thomas has to follow plans—probably for insurance, for one—but he could kindly say when things are out of his lane and Mina will have to talk to his boss. Generally, though, I’m loving this juicier version of Good Bones. Normally I don’t love drama, but this is real. This is what happens in construction. This isn’t for the cameras.
Kristin: All this and it’s only episode two!
Megan: Suddenly, things are looking up. A rental house they own just sold for $460,000, all equity.
Kristin: Yes, but Finley calls from the jobsite to report that Thomas has walked off, leaving all his stuff.
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Megan: Probably a good thing, but now there will be a learning curve for his replacement. Isn’t that the GC’s problem, though? Are there no financial repercussions for being this far behind on their end?Kristin: Again, I’m not defending anyone. And I certainly did not like the way Thomas and Mina spoke to each other. But for a project to have so many changes—only some of which we know about—and then to be thrown into a world of dealing with a camera crew and TV production, that would be a lot for anyone. I think it was too much for Thomas to handle. And if I’m wrong and he IS a misogynist, then I’m gonna kick him in the shins if I see him. Although I don’t know if I’d recognize him without his plaid shirt.Megan: Meet Martin, the new site superintendent. Kristin: Isn’t he the guy we saw in the preview last week disparaging Mina by saying, “I have been doing this since before you were born?”Megan: I’m not sure, but right off the bat, Martin doesn’t have great info on the status of the electrician. Mina’s having a lot of “big feelings” (Mom-speak) but is trying to keep it cool. Kristin: OK, good start. Mina controlling big feelings. Martin tells her to have a good day. It’s progress.Megan: Mina still has other projects to attend to, like changing up the Two Chicks District Co. store for a new season with Austin. Together they realize that resetting a store four times a year is a lot easier than resetting an event space every weekend. She decides then and there that she isn’t going into the event business. They will rent the space out but not provide full services.Kristin: Hopefully that freed up the emotional space to deal with this bad news: The sale of the rental house fell through.Megan: The appraisal didn’t work out and the buyer walked away. But I thought houses were selling in a day last year. Weren’t cash offers over list price happening all the time? Or, if they need money so badly, can’t they just slash the price? Leave some money on the table but get some cash.Kristin: But if you have the best house on the block and there are no comps to support your price, which is what happened, something has to give. You can’t just ask any price you want—unless it’s a one-of-a-kind jewel and the buyer is willing to pay anything.Megan: Now Mina is saying stuff like, “I don’t know how we’re going to afford to finish” the big house. Kristin: In last week’s opener, Mina mentioned that this property had numerous owners (who turned into sellers). Maybe now we know why.Megan: Hey, HVAC is going in at the carriage house and main house! But this happiness lasts for 30 seconds until Mina turns her attention to the foundation, and I just feel like this won’t be good. The first floor is sagging, for one. Another in-depth construction discussion with Martin.Kristin: Oh, no, Martin IS that guy!Megan: Yep. Mina says, “If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told, ‘I’ve been doing this longer than you’ve been alive’ by a dude, I’d be a wealthy woman.” And she could finish this house! I feel like this series is really Good Bones: Catharsis. This has to feel good for Mina to show people what she deals with. Kristin: Sorry guys, but you’re just asking for the criticism by acting this way. Will we ever get to a decade where the demeaning comments end?Megan: We get a breather from the tension when Mina and MJ go to a giant prop house called Atmospheres Indy, a potential supplier for their event space. The owner says if they don’t have something, they’ll make it. This sounds like your dream job.Kristin: I’d love to work there! Megan: But they have a box just for Christmas lollipops, so it sounds like they already have everything you could think of. Do you think the owner has the whole place inventoried?Kristin: I would think so. That was a lot of banana boxes full of decor!Megan: Back at the money pit, they are two-and-a-half months in and still framing. I wonder if Mina would have been better off using her Two Chicks crew. Stuff still isn’t clicking. For instance, Martin doesn’t seem to know that the overhead garage doors they ordered even exist. Mina says she’s trying not to micromanage, but I think the buck stops with her, and she has every right to oversee. I’m getting the sense that as a woman in this industry, it’s not that simple. Perhaps she has to be aware of how people respond to her. Which sucks. Kristin: Again, broken record—Thomas wasn’t up to date with the plans. Wouldn’t you make sure the new guy knows what’s what?Megan: Sure. There’s still stuff we’re not seeing. Like, does Mina have regular check-ins with the contractor, or does it not work that way? She says things are fixed wrong every time she comes by, she’s having the same conversations with Martin day after day, and he’s asking questions he should know the answer to. Mina asks: When is it appropriate to step in and say, “This isn’t working.” I’m sad she feels this dilemma. It’s her property—anytime she wants.Kristin: That would be my answer, too.Megan: I wonder if this new crew is freaked out by the cameras. Kristin: I think the cameras have a lot to do with it. It seems to cause more pressure. Although it doesn’t explain the lack of respect shown for the owner—maybe we need to mansplain it to them.Megan: Whaddya know. The general contractor is fired, and Two Chicks is taking the project in-house. And we get to meet another Two Chicker! Ashlynn, a project manager.Kristin: Yea! Girl power!Megan: Mina calls in all her favors and is laser-focused on making progress at the carriage house. Now that she’s in charge, insulation is going in and drywall is happening on the main floor. The wrong upstairs windows are gone. Brick is sandblasted. The garage doors are here!
Kristin: It was all a little too nice and tidy. I wish we knew the timeline for what it took to get it all back on track.
Megan: Yeah, funny how there are no problems when Two Chicks is on the job. But it makes for a better show. When everyone is more relaxed, we learn things like there is no dance floor big enough for Finley. This feels more like Good Bones.
Kristin: I like that Mina and Finley install the Juliet balconies themselves. This hammers home that Mina can trust her gut, make the tough calls, and not compromise her vision.
Megan: Bye, Martin! I liked you better than Thomas!