By Darren Lum
This Sunday, May 16, a Minden residence will be showcased with the first episode of the season for Scott’s Vacation House Rules on HGTV Canada.
Hosted by real estate expert, contractor, entrepreneur and television personality Scott McGillivray, the series follows him and his “design partner, Debra Salmoni, as they turn rundown cottages into attractive vacation rentals.”
With his own vacation property located just south of the Highlands in Kawartha Lakes, McGillivray appreciates and loves the beauty of the area and has featured the Highlands before.
“It’s nice to stay kind of close to where I am doing properties,” he said. “And it’s a beautiful area. I think it’s underestimated. There’s a lot of potential here for growth. Some other areas are saturated and overdone. This area is just as beautiful, but maybe not quite as difficult to get into.”
The show will also be showcasing the area just south of Gooderham in Trent Lakes in a future episode of House Rules.
McGillivray characterizes the show as “inspirational and aspirational.”
“It takes a realistic approach to achieving goals that a lot of people have through good financial decisions and hard work,” he said.
He continues, “There’s nothing more rewarding than helping people achieve difficult goals and that’s what this show is about, whether it’s a renovation goal, a financial goal, an investing goal, or just in general, a retirement, or deadline [they’re] trying to get to.”
From his experience, the standout aspect is balance, he said.
At the beginning the focus was on creating a return on the investment, so people had a sound investment with a purchase or the renovation of the properties.
“That still is a critical piece of what I do, but I realized the balance that I’m talking about is finding a way to bring together both a return on investment and something I call a return on lifestyle,” McGillivray said.
He adds this show is the “pinnacle of that process. It really makes sure the properties that people absolutely love and cherish and build most of their memories in are also good financial decisions for them.”
The common pattern he’s witnessed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is the concept of making what was a seasonal residence into something that is capable of year-round accommodation.
“People are not just looking at vacation properties as vacation properties,” he said. “They are looking at them as a home.”
This goes beyond retirement and now includes an entire transition to a lifestyle where people are moving out of the city to make a seasonal home into a primary residence.
He called it a “fast forward” effort toward achieving future objectives for retirement, which includes the move to cottage country, or renting out a residence to earn money for the future plan objective.
“It’s also given people an opportunity to think about what’s important and you can see that moving forward that people are really doubling-down on things that are really meaningful to them. That’s why we’ve seen areas like cottage country take off in value because people are realizing that, ‘Oh, my gosh. Life is short and anything can happen and I really want to focus on things that bring me joy,’” he said.
The predominant challenge he keeps seeing when working on these recreational seasonal properties is the lack of consistency with the building quality.
“There’s a lot of makeshift things. Do-it-yourself stuff. There’s a lot of outdated stuff. Some of the properties were built 100 years ago and some of them were built 20 years ago. Each one, they can be side-by-each,” he said.
He said many of these properties don’t have anyone living there full time to maintain them, so the degradation can worsen and become a greater issue than if someone lived there to notice.
The show has been nominated for the Canadian Screen Award Best Lifestyle Program or Series, which will be awarded on May 17.
McGillivray said after a challenging year having to work with the constraints of safety protocols, and the never knowing if shooting would be suspended or not pertaining to the pandemic, this award “means a lot to the team.”
After 300 TV episodes from all the shows he has worked on over more than a decade, whether it’s Scott’s House Call, Buyers Bootcamp, Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays, McGillivray said it’s the people, who are central to it all for him. He wishes he could help more people, who he learns about through his various social media platforms.
It motivates him during the times he can help so he can show others.
“When I do help somebody I try to make an example out of it so that other people watching can learn something and potentially use that to get to their goals as well,” he said.