October 20, 2011 in Washington Voices

Spokane man’s remodeling mishap show viewer favorite

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Josh Hissong, principal of Hurtado Hissong Design Group, won a contest on the Do It Yourself Network as America’s worst do-it-yourselfer.
(Full-size photo)

On TV

The “Hissong Job” airs again on the DIY Network on Nov. 18 at 2 a.m. or see it online at diynetwork.com.

Not everyone has what it takes to become an accomplished do-it-yourselfer.

It takes a combination of skill, the ability to plan ahead for obstacles such as live wires and water pipes inside walls, and the right tools to pull off even a simple project. And almost every homeowner has a horror story to tell about the weekend project that turned into a weeklong project.

Josh Hissong, one of two partners in the Hurtado Hissong Design Group, has created the interiors of some of Spokane’s favorite restaurants, like Savory, Ginger and Wasabi, so one could assume that he’s handy with a hammer. One would be wrong.

“I’m the guy with the vision. I’m the guy who says, ‘This is the look I’m going for, figure out how to do it’,” said Hissong.

That’s why it’s surprising to see Hissong star in a do-it-yourself TV show, but perhaps not surprising that the TV show led to Hissong being crowned the worst do-it-yourselfer in America by viewers of the Do It Yourself Network.

Hissong made a half-hour show for the DIY Network’s “Renovation Realities,” a show that features real remodels attempted by ordinary homeowners, and explained by occasionally sarcastic subtitles such as, “please, go ahead and proceed without eye protection …” just before the drywall dust hits someone in the face.

The show came about because Hissong pitched a restaurant renovation show to the DIY Network. It would be like ABC’s “Extreme Home Makeover” but it would feature a restaurant instead of a rundown home.

“They liked the idea, but it didn’t quite pan out,” said Hissong, who pitched the same idea to KXLY-TV’s Extreme Team. “But then they asked me if I’d be interested in the other thing. ‘Renovation Realities’ sort of makes fun of the homeowner.”

Last week, Hissong found out that his show was picked by viewers as the best of all the submissions.

“That was pretty cool,” Hissong said, adding that it’s already aired 19 times.

The storyline in the half-hour show is pretty simple: Hissong and a friend set out to remodel the inside of his new house just off Manito Park. They begin by breaking down cupboards and counters in the kitchen, as well as frilly built-in shelves. “Tacky,” says Hissong at one point during the show, “until the tacky is gone, I can’t live here.”

Then trouble starts: Hissong forgot to order a Dumpster for all the debris. And no, he’s not wearing proper eye protection as he begins to tear into the drywall. He also discovers that demolition is surprisingly tough and physically demanding work. “Physical labor and I don’t get along at all,” he says during the show. “I’m way, way out of my element here.”

The fun really begins when the two tackle a wall that – of course – turns out to be load-bearing.

And then Hissong’s friend tears into another wall yanking some sort of wire apart, and boom, there goes the power. It’s winter. It’s cold. And now the heat is out, so the two decide to start a fire in the fireplace. Of course they burn essential plans in the process. And on and on it goes.

“It is scripted, but it’s my house and we did do the work you see,” said Hissong. “No, I don’t live there. I got lucky and sold it as soon as we were done with the remodel.”

Does he plan a career change to become a contractor?

No, absolutely not.

“If anything, this has made me more humble and more appreciative of the work the contractors do,” said Hissong.

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