It was taking out the trash that hit home the enormity of the task at hand for Durham, Ontario resident Kiki.

“Realizing how many dumpsters we needed was a huge challenge,” she says of her recent house flip. “Not knowing how much needed to be removed from the home and landscaping -- there was a lot of removing of shrubs and overgrowth -- was a learning curve, but we did it in the end.”

Kiki and her partner Ryan have flipped over 60 houses in southern Ontario over the past decade. And some were in seriously rough shape pre-transformation. But this property was the couple’s first real hoarder house, they say. 

“Every house that we buy typically has a story,” says Ryan. “Usually they are in a state of considerable disrepair. They’re crooked, or moldy, or what have you. But I believe this was our first ‘hoarder house.’”

And the whole experience of giving the once daunting home a new lease on life is all documented. Kiki and Ryan’s most recent flip is the star of the show (well, of the episode, at least) on HGTV’s Hoarder House FlippersIn each episode of the new series, one renovation team digs deep, rolling up their sleeves to take on the full transformation of a dilapidated house in Canada. Buried under years of clutter, trash, and neglect, these neighbourhood eyesores are typically a homebuyer’s worst nightmare, but for the entrepreneurial teams of flippers, hoarder houses offer a unique opportunity.  

Kiki and ryan ontario hoarder house flippers 2Photo: Corus Entertainment Inc.

In each episode of Hoarder House Flippers, the entrepreneurs work day and night to clear out the junk and breathe new life into these challenging properties, turning hoarder houses into gorgeous desirable homes, all in the hopes of turning a major profit. And it provides viewers with no shortage of inspiration in the process.

For those in Toronto’s housing market, hoarder houses, or those that look like something from a horror movie, can -- and do -- sell for a pretty penny. For many, a TLC-needing house may be the only entry point into the red-hot market. With that in mind, the series is particularly relevant in that it encourages homebuyers to think outside the box when it comes to the potential of an underdog (to say the least) home. 

The series kicked off on Thursday with Kiki and Ryan’s episode (if you missed it, it’s available on STACK TV and on Amazon Prime Video Channels). “We’ve never been on TV before, nor did we ever think about being on TV,” said Kiki. “Ryan was doing a speaking engagement in the estate space when he was approached by someone who works on the show. Back and forth emails turned into meetings with Corus execs, which turned into the show getting greenlit.”

Buying a house sight unseen is just another day in the office for Ryan and Kiki, but even they clearly weren’t prepared for what they found at the end of a wandering, overgrown driveway in Springbrook, Ontario -- as is revealed loud and clear in the first episode. 

Ep101hoardliving 1024x576Photo: Corus Entertainment Inc.

Kiki says the entire experience was unanticipated; they weren’t quite sure what they were getting themselves into, she admits. “When we pulled in, we’re looking at the home for the first time along with the viewers,” says Kiki. “Everything was completely new to us; every door we opened, every corner we turned -- we had not seen before. The entire thing was unpredictable.”

At the end of the day, the pair knew to draw upon past experience to breathe new life into the property. 

Ep101hoardkitchenPhoto: Corus Entertainment Inc.

“In a sense, they’re all the same and they’re all different,” says Ryan of homes he’s flipped. “One big thing that you learn in the house-flipping industry is that you need to expect the unexpected. Because we hadn’t seen it prior, we didn’t know what to expect. You have to go in with open eyes and put on your creative hat and say, ok now we understand what construction needs to be after once it’s cleared out; how are we going to work the layout? Once you understand the layout you can work on the design. Once you put those pieces together, that’s when you start to mitigate your risk and come up with a beautiful product at the end.”

While it may seem like a daunting task when the home looks like something from a horror film, Kiki assures that the process can be a relatively (key word) simple one.  

“Don’t be scared of it,” says Kiki. “Once you peel away the layers of stuff, fixer-uppers are all sort of the same. They’re all going to need paint on the wall, some drywall, and flooring. They’re all going to need a good cleaning. Some kitchens you can still keep and repurpose and reuse; you don’t have to rip everything out and start from scratch each time. You can clean away the clutter, you can clean away the dirt, and you can repurpose and reuse what’s already there. Once the clutter is gone -- and a lot of hands can help with that -- paint is paint; drywall is drywall, and flooring is flooring.”

Ep101 reveal living2Photo: Corus Entertainment Inc.

The pair wants their episode to leave viewers feeling like they can take on a similar challenge themselves -- whether when dealing with hoarder houses or any home gut job. “Kiki and I are just regular people at the core. Even though we have a lot of experience, at the end of the day, it’s all really doable if you have a plan and budget and stick to that," says Ryan.

Ep101 reveal kitchen2Photo: Corus Entertainment Inc.

A solid partnership also doesn’t hurt. 

“Know your numbers -- that’s Ryan’s world,” said Kiki. “And design for emotion -- that’s my world.” 

Hoarder House Flippersairs Thursdays at 8pm EST on HGTV.

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