It turns out the property brothers are not the only twin bros on the reality renovation scene.
Born in New Jersey, the LaMont brothers attended college at Lehigh University where they both played football (Calvin was a defensive back, Chris a linebacker). After graduating in 2007, they moved to Dallas, where they started their own janitorial and floor cleaning service.
They soon branched out into home repairs, then restoration. But they spent their spare time getting their real estate licenses and other certificates with their eyes on the prize of buying, selling, and flipping houses.
In 2015, they began officially renovating and building homes. After finding success in the Dallas area, they’re now expanding to other parts of the country, including St. Louis and Augusta, GA.
All the while they were busy building families as well. Chris has two boys, and Calvin has a young girl.
We caught up with HGTV’s newest renovation team recently to chat about the new show, as well as the brothers’ top tips for buying, selling, and building a home today.
What makes your show different from other renovation shows?
Chris: The first thing that sets our show apart is Chris and Calvin LaMont. We live a different life, we have different experiences. We did carpet cleaning, we did the building houses, and now we’re selling homes and building the community. So we’ve done it all. We have a whole bunch of energy, and we have very cool guests as well. Not to mention we have pretty awesome houses.
Calvin: There are so many great shows on TV, so first off, we’re humbled just to be able to have our own show on HGTV. I think how we differentiate our show from other shows is all the energy we bring. We work with some amazing families, and our subcontractors and designers, even some of the vendors, when they get around us there’s a certain kind of energy we generate.
Which one of you specializes in building, and who specializes in buying?
Chris: Calvin is the builder brother, I’m the buyer brother. What we do is at the beginning of the show, we talk to a family and show them a house that is a great opportunity to buy and remodel, which I am going to be the one to champion.
What happens after the families make their decisions?
Chris: Once they decide if they’re going to buy it or build it, Calvin and I come together. I am more on the construction side, where I’m dealing with the contractors, the trades. Calvin does more with the designers and things like that.
It’s nice to see it’s not another show where the husband does the building and the wife does the designing.
Chris: [Laughing] Yes, we get a little different dichotomy between Calvin and I. We’re brothers, so I’m going to be on Calvin a little bit harder, because I don’t have to go home and sleep with him.
Calvin: Since Calvin and I are brothers, and especially twin brothers, I believe you can say something crazy to your brother, and it’s not like it’s your wife who’s thinking, “If you’re going to say that to me, I’ll slap you.” Everybody understands brothers and sisters, and says, “Oh, there go two brothers fooling around.”
You’ve been working in the business for seven years now. How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people buy, build, and sell?
Calvin: One thing we’ll say changed is the cost of materials. They’re skyrocketing, which is also complicated by delays in shipping, container issues, all of it. So not only are the materials costs higher, but it’s also more difficult to get those materials here. So you’ve got to pay more for it and get it later. That’s a double whammy.
Chris: One day it’s $20, the next day it’s $30. So the lack of consistency of knowing what your budget will be really hurts the homeowner.
Calvin: But as material costs and lead times increase, sales prices are also increasing. So at least you can sell your property for a higher price when it’s done, and you can sell it fast. That offsets the lead time and the cost to the homeowner. Thank God for that right now—you’re able to make your money back on the sale.
Do you have any tips on how homeowners can manage the challenges of rising materials costs and delays?
Calvin: Pre-source your materials. Take a little time to go to the store and look online at the beginning of the project. Find out what’s available, or how long it’s going to take to get it.
If that product is too expensive or is unavailable, at least you know the look and design you want, so it’s easier for you to find something else to match that.
That way you’ll be better prepared with your designs, so you won’t have to pay more for what you want, spend on a bunch of things you don’t want, or wait way too long for things you don’t really want anyway.
Because of the building and home renovation frenzy over the past couple of years, quality contractors are at a premium. How do you find a good one?
Chris: Get at least three bids. The more prepared you are in terms of what you want and are expecting, the better you’ll be able to understand the right bid.
Calvin: Also get references. And make sure your contractor is licensed. Get comps and confirmation from the bank. Your builder has to be a certified contractor or a pre-approved vendor to the bank.
We hear nightmare stories about contractors taking forever or just failing to show up. What’s a good way to manage them?
Calvin: Communication and documentation. Communication is so important—you both know what to expect from each other.
Chris: Set expectations and make them clear from the very beginning. Make sure you agree on the price, what you’re looking for, the time, and how often you check in—whether it’s every week or every two weeks—if it’s a long-term project.
You guys renovate a lot of old, run-down houses. Have you ever found anything really strange in one?
Calvin: We found vintage, old-school adult magazines in the walls.
Chris: Sometimes we even find people! Especially in abandoned homes. So whenever you go into a house that’s been abandoned for a long time, make sure you call out “hello” first, and look in the windows and knock, or you might get a big surprise.
What’s the biggest mistake you see homebuyers making today after moving in?
Chris: Don’t try to DIY everything. For example, electricity is not a DIY project. One time we found hot wires that weren’t insulated running under a tub. If you come across something that’s complicated, we advise you call in the right experts.
Calvin: That’s right. Moving walls, adding square footage, changing electrical or plumbing, please get a professional, get permits with the city, and make sure the work is certified and approved. DIY only goes so far.