When Ryan Courech first started working on his Winter Park investment home, he’d often find himself driving by it, not noticing the driveway, or that he passed it, until he hit the next stop sign.
Untrimmed trees and overgrown shrubs taller than the Brookshire neighborhood house left the home camouflaged from passersby on the street.
“It was bad,” said Courech, who bought the home through his real estate investment firm, Meridian Capital Holdings. “Sometimes we’d drive by it three times.”
All that stood out to neighbors and those that drove by was that it was ugly. So much so, that when one of the producers of the A&E reality show “Fix This Yard” happened upon the home last October, he sought out the owner to see if they’d be willing to take part in the show to fix it up.
Courech, also a realtor for Winter Park Land Co., who had bought the home with intentions of reselling it, initially said no to the offer. He said the cost of participating on the show was more than his company would usually budget for landscaping. But after further poking and prodding from neighbors asking him, “When are you going to fix the yard?” he decided to apply.
After a three-page application, test video shoot and longer application, the home was chosen as one of four to have its lawn “fixed” in Central Florida as part of the show’s third season.
“They just came in and took over,” Courech said.
In four nearly 10-hour days, the show’s crew — led by hosts Amy Devers and Alan Luxmore — transformed the home’s yard from overgrown and dead, to lush and vibrant. Courech, his girlfriend, Lisa, and a handful of recruited “neighbors” — really just Courech’s friends — were there to lend the occasional helping hand, or dose of comic relief.
“It was like summer camp,” Courech said, describing the laughing, bonding and goofing off that happened on set.
A summer camp that not only made over the yard, but made the home the talk of the neighborhood. He said students from nearby Winter Park High School would drive by after class to check out the filming, and neighbors would sit out on lawn chairs to watch the transformation in process.
Neighbor Keith Bogan said the filming was pretty discreet, saying he wouldn’t have even known a TV show was filming if it weren’t for the boisterous voices of the hosts echoing through the normally silent neighborhood during the day. He said the slight interruption to daily life was worth it though, now having the eyesore lawn gone.
The home’s “Fix This Yard” episode will air at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 2, on A&E. To learn more about the show, visit aetv.com/fix-this-yard
“It’s a beautiful house now,” Bogan said. “It makes the rest of the street want to beef up their lawns.”
Birds of paradise, magnolia trees and rose bushes now manicure the lawn, new pavers form the driveway and built-up steps to the freshly painted house, and a trellis hangs over the garage. And thanks to new sod and a working sprinkler system, the grass is now lush and green instead of brown. Courech estimates the renovation’s value at anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000.
Courech said since the filming in February, he’s not only been equal parts nervous and excited to see the episode’s final product, but he’s been more skeptical of the actual reality of all reality TV, having seen it from the other side.
Despite what the episode’s teaser says, the home was not once a frat house, and Ryan and his girlfriend, Lisa, never have, nor ever plan to live in the home. Courech says both of those were storylines the producers fed them for the cameras.
The show’s results on the other hand, he says, are all real and really worked. After extensive interior renovations in addition to those in the yard, and 54 days on the market, the house was signed under contract for $299,700 — about $100,000 more than Courech and Meridian Capital Holdings bought it for last year.
“Ultimately both of our goals aligned and not only did we end up with a beautiful yard, but a beautiful house,” he said.
A house, he said, that should never again be driven by unnoticed.