The Untold Truth Of HGTV's Rock The Block

HGTV's "Rock the Block" features some of the network's most accomplished stars joining forces for a high-stakes home renovation competition unlike anything viewers have seen before.

According to an October 2019 HGTV announcement, the first season of the series brings together Alison Victoria of "Windy City Rehab," Leanne Ford of "Restored by the Fords," Jasmine Roth of "Hidden Potential," and Mina Starsiak Hawk of "Good Bones." Each member of this powerhouse quartet must redesign and renovate one of four identical properties located on the same suburban street, with each woman relying on her own unique design sensibility. With a four-week time limit and a budget of $175,000 each, the women face off in a home improvement battle royale with a goal of adding the maximum amount of value to their respective homes.

Each episode focuses on a specific room, ranging from the kitchen to the master suite, with a different HGTV personality brought in to judge the results of each week's competition. And in the finale, "Property Brothers" star Drew Scott — who serves as the season's host — utilizes his extensive real estate expertise to perform a thorough inspection of each property to determine which of the four homes has the highest appraised value.

Alison Victoria said filming HGTV's Rock the Block was 'insanity'

Alison Victoria has successfully renovated many historic Chicago homes on "Windy City Rehab," but she told that the challenges she found herself facing on Season 1 of HGTV's "Rock the Block" were unlike anything she had ever encountered before. "It's insanity. This is definitely the hardest I've ever pushed myself in my career, physically, mentally, emotionally — it was insane," admitted Victoria of the grueling schedule required to complete her project by the deadline while remaining within the $175,000 budget. 

"I was there 6 a.m. to midnight, 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.," she added. "It was a challenge for myself and I'm beyond proud of me."

Renovating her "Rock the Block" house was "the hardest that [she'd] ever worked in [her] whole life," the owner of Alison Victoria Interiors told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. "I've been with them [HGTV] 10 years and I've never done anything this crazy," she explained. "It was the hardest that I've ever worked in my whole life. ... it was just draining."

Mina Starsiak Hawk revealed the twist that shocked her

The element of surprise keeps "Rock the Block" viewers glued to their TVs, serving up shocking twists that nobody could have seen coming. One of these took place in an episode of Season 1 devoted to kitchen renovations, when a dilapidated old barn was wheeled up in front of the homes — and the women discovered they'd have to incorporate elements of the barn into their kitchen designs.

"I'm not gonna lie. We were all like, 'What do we do with this barn?'" said "Good Bones" star Mina Starsiak Hawk during a People Now interview with all four stars of Season 1 of "Rock the Block." She admitted, "It was definitely a challenge." "Windy City Rehab" star Alison Victoria agreed, saying, "You have to incorporate part of this barn into your kitchen, and most of us were done with our kitchens."

Starsiak Hawk admitted that the last-minute twist threw the four women — who are all "control freaks," she joked — for a loop. "Everything is planned to the T and then, here's a barn! ... What do we do now? But that's the point of it," she said.

Leanne Ford brought her 'fail-proof' design strategy to Rock the Block

When it came to designing the interior spaces in her home in HGTV's "Rock the Block," Leanne Ford of "Restored by the Fords" fame had a secret weapon that has never let her down: white paint. "I just really believe in white paint. I think it is the blank canvas, and what it does is it allows everything else in the room to shine and be important," Ford declared in an interview with The Wrap. "It's really fail-proof. It always looks good, it always looks current, and it always looks timeless. There's no white space through time that you think, 'That looks dated.'"

Keeping the interiors white, Ford believes, affords the greatest degree of flexibility for the home's eventual owners if and when they decide to make an update or simply to add their own personal touches. "I think there are people who are looking for kind of a long-lasting decision, and also get, maybe, nervous to make decisions," she explained. "But look, white paint — it's a cheat sheet. Just do it, you know?"

Jasmine Roth's first job was a long way from HGTV's Rock the Block

Jasmine Roth brought a wealth of home design and building experience to Season 1 of "Rock the Block," but the "Hidden Potential" star had an unusual route to get there. "My first-ever job was a fitness instructor at a Curves Fitness," she revealed in an interview with HGTV. "I was in the middle of nowhere in rural Virginia. You can picture fields of cows and corn, then this Curves Fitness in this tiny strip mall with nothing around it for miles." She continued, "These women would come in and they'd never been to a gym before, and I would teach them how to use the machines and measure their BMI. What I learned was that it was all about making them feel comfortable. It was about having fun and motivating them." 

The job presumably taught her the importance of humility, something she believes is key when undertaking something as challenging as HGTV's "Rock the Block." "When it comes down to it, it's just about not being afraid and being humble," she said. "You can't go into something like this where you know nothing and pretend that you know anything."

Star Leanne Ford made a huge career pivot at 30 and never regretted it

"Rock the Block" star Leanne Ford didn't start out her career with plans to design and renovate houses. She originally worked in the fashion industry until the opportunity to reimagine an old schoolhouse in her hometown led her to a career pivot at age 30. "At that point, I was in fashion direction and styling, and I had always fixed up places," she told Parade. "This schoolhouse was the first time I actually got to rip down walls and pick fixtures and play with it."

However, Ford admitted that her fashion background has definitely been an asset in her second career, providing her with an added edge on HGTV's "Rock the Block." "I never went to school for design," she explained. "I went to school for fashion and marketing, but the same side of my brain that created looks for years for photo shoots is the same side of the brain that's creating these rooms. I think it's just about being fearless when it comes to creating, whether it be in your house or whatever your avenue is."

Renovating her historic Chicago home set Alison Victoria's career path

When creating a unique vision for her "Rock the Block" home, Alison Victoria brought years of experience in redesigning and renovating historic houses in her native Chicago. The "Windy City Rehab" star always knew what she wanted for her career, as she had been dreaming about breathing new life into old homes since she was a child. "Growing up, my dad used to take us driving around the city, and I would see all these houses, and I would just dream of living in one of them one day," she revealed in an interview with Roku

In fact, doing a DIY renovation on her first home set her on the career journey that ultimately brought her to HGTV's "Rock the Block." "I lived in an old historic home in Wicker Park that was so rundown and nobody wanted to touch it," she continued, adding, "And I fixed it. And instead of people running by, they would stop and take photos of this house. And I knew that I wanted to keep doing that on every single street in Chicago."

How Drew Scott coped without his brother on HGTV's Rock the Block

HGTV viewers are used to seeing Drew Scott paired with twin brother Jonathan Scott on "Property Brothers" and their other assorted series, but, as host of Season 1 of HGTV's "Rock the Block," Drew had to fly solo. However, Drew definitely didn't seem to be missing his bro all that much while undertaking his new gig, judging by a behind-the-scenes video of outtakes shared by HGTV on Facebook. In the video, he and the four women trade wisecracks and goof around just like he and his brother often do. 

This was especially true when it came to "Hidden Potential" star Jasmine Roth, who revealed she and Scott formed a sibling-style bond. "I think it's funny because I think he always needs somebody to kind of have that sibling relationship with, so since Jonathan wasn't there, we were hanging out and I was the younger sister," quipped Roth in an interview with "He's like, 'All right, I'm going to pick you up now!' Whatever he would normally do with Jonathan, I think he did that with me. We had a really fun time!"

Fans can buy the houses on Rock the Block

The four houses on HGTV's "Rock the Block" are located on a suburban street in Santa Clarita, Calif., according to House Beautiful. The publication noted that each home boasts three bedrooms and three bathrooms within 2,530 square feet of interior living space. The houses were built by Pardee Homes, with each valued at $750,000 — and that was before the HGTV stars put their $175,000 worth of improvements into their respective properties. 

Don't expect to see the homes sit empty. Pardee Homes revealed that fans would have the opportunity to go check them out in person at a special November 2019 Rockin' Reveal Party, where they could purchase the homes.

And while creating a redesign that delivered the highest appraised value is the competition's ultimate goal, that's not what motivated Leanne Ford throughout the process. "I chose to ignore the concept of appraisal value," she told Parade. "I just wanted to go more for an emotional value. Because at the end of the day, there's only one family that needs to find and love this house, and that one person is who I was designing for." 

Jasmine Roth shared big news during the first season's run

In the midst of promoting HGTV's "Rock the Block," Jasmine Roth and husband Brett Roth learned some life-changing news: They were expecting their first child. Roth made the announcement on Instagram, writing, "So excited (also nervous, ecstatic, terrified, overjoyed, and all the feelings) that we are expecting our first baby on 4.27.20 ... this is happening! We are so in love with this little one already." In a follow-up post, she admitted that she "was actually a little nervous about sharing the BIG NEWS because [she] wasn't sure what the reaction would be." 

While "Rock the Block" put her professional mettle to the test, this new chapter in her life promises to give Roth and her husband a whole new set of skills as first-time parents. "I know this is going to be the hardest job I have ever signed up for," Roth told People. "I'm reading all the books and blogs, finding podcasts, joining mom groups to try and feel prepared, but I know that what really matters is that this child will be loved beyond belief."

When HGTV came calling, Mina Starsiak Hawk thought she was being scammed

The skills that Mina Starsiak Hawk brought to "Rock the Block" are considerable, honed by years working alongside her mom, Karen Jensen, running their Indianapolis-based renovation business, Two Chicks & a Hammer, and renovating houses on "Good Bones." And while she's now one of HGTV's most recognizable personalities, Starsiak Hawk nearly walked away from the offer to be on television.

According to USA Today, the production company behind the show, High Noon Entertainment, discovered the pair on Facebook and reached out in January 2014. Initially skeptical, Starsiak Hawk suspected she was being scammed by a con artist trying to steal their financial information. "I was like, 'I know we're not that cool,'" she explained. "So I did a little bit of research on the development company and found out that they're legit."

Before long, they were filming "Good Bones," an instant hit that reflects their personal philosophy. "We do not flip houses," Jensen explained. "We stay in one geographic area so that we can make a difference in the neighborhood." She added, "We are rehabilitating an entire neighborhood, one house at a time."

How do the stars feel about their budgets on Rock the Block?

While $175,000 may seem like a pretty hefty sum of money, it actually doesn't go that far when you're renovating an entire house — particularly when the goal is to add as much real estate value as possible. "Design's art. I am not good at adding value. Appraisers don't love me, I'll tell you that," Leanne Ford jokingly told

Insisting she's "not competitive at all," Ford admitted that her strategy may not have aligned with the competition's goal of attaining the highest appraised value with the limited budget. "I was like, 'Okay you guys, I will do this show, but I'm not here to win. I'm here to make a good-looking house.' And they're like, 'Okay, Leanne.' The other girls, they thought my non-competitive nature was my secret competitive angle. [But] it wasn't," she added. "I just really was minding my own business because for me, design is art and art is subjective."

Ford went on, "How they did the competition made sense. It was about adding value, and that is objective, so that was smarter, so I get it."

The huge incentive to win HGTV's Rock the Block

The ultimate winner of HGTV's "Rock the Block" not only earns serious bragging rights but also the street on which the homes are situated named after her. The victory also includes a 100,000 meal donation to the Turn Up! Fight Hunger initiative in the winner's honor. Additionally, the victor of each weekly challenge received a special TV prize, with a bonus "showcase" of the winner's own series aired immediately after the "Rock the Block" reveal. With a crew this competitive, this all made for an extra layer of drama. 

Leanne Ford won the series' first challenge, and she admitted that nobody was as surprised as she was. "I can't believe it. I've literally never won anything in my life," she told People Now

But Ford wasn't the only star who wanted to win, of course. Mina Starsiak Hawk recognized that "Rock the Block" brought her competitive streak to the forefront. "I am so competitive, it's probably to an unhealthy level," she told IndyStar, noting, "It was rough. I stress-cried a couple of times."

Which Season 1 star was the most competitive?

With all four women working at a fever pitch, it shouldn't be surprising that HGTV's "Rock the Block" pushed everyone to their limits. Asked by People Now to determine who was the most competitive of the four stars, all fingers pointed to Alison Victoria. "I just feel like I have a lot of anger," she jokingly admitted. "So I think that turns into fear sometimes, sadness, and then competitiveness."

"I am more competitive than any of the girls," Victoria confirmed to, noting she felt the most rivalry with Leanne Ford — who, interestingly enough, saw herself as the least competitive of the quartet. "When they asked me to do this in the first place, it was like, 'You guys understand that I'm the least competitive person on the planet?'" Ford told Parade. "Nobody even wanted to play Monopoly with me. I'm like, 'You win. Take it, take the money.'" She went on, "So, not competitive at all, but I agreed to come do it to make a beautiful house. The concept of the same house in four different ways is really fun to me."

Rock the Block has featured an impressive roster of special guests

Each episode of the first season of "Rock the Block" featured a popular HGTV star to render his or her expert opinions on each individual project. According an October 2019 HGTV announcement, "Flip or Flop" star Tarek El Moussa evaluated the work performed on the homes' master suites, while Brian and Mika Kleinschmidt of "90 Day Dream Home" judged the properties' great rooms and outdoor living spaces. Finally, "Holmes on Homes" icon Mike Holmes brought his "Make It Right" expertise to judging the kitchen. 

But that's not all. "Rehab Addict" star Nicole Curtis and "HGTV Smart Home 2019" host Tiffany Brooks were also on hand for the show, making special guest appearances. 

With all that star power, it's no wonder that the network's president, Jane Latman, described HGTV's "Rock the Block" as "an 'on-the-edge-of-your seat' competition event" that is "full of surprises as these renovation and design powerhouse women battle it out to see who will ultimately get the crown."

The first season of Rock the Block was an HGTV hit

When HGTV's "Rock the Block" completed its freshman season, there was certainly cause for celebration at the network. As a press release detailed, the first season was watched by more than 20 million viewers. Not surprisingly, HGTV renewed the series for a second go-round. In the announcement of the show's second-season pickup order, HGTV president Jane Latman praised "Rock the Block" for its "winning combination of family-friendly competition and high stakes renovations," describing the show as "one of our most popular crowd pleasers."

The second season, which debuted in March 2021, continued to be a ratings-grabber for HGTV. A subsequent release from the network crowed about the impressive ratings for the second season's premiere episode, which attracted in excess of 4.2 million viewers — a 31% increase over the first season's debut episode. "By every measure, in every demo, 'Rock the Block' rocked it!" Latman said in the release. 

When that season completed and the dust settled, HGTV trumpeted the sophomore season's "knockout ratings performance," attracting an "upscale audience" of more than 17.3 million. "It's no wonder the finale episode attracted nearly 5 million viewers alone and was the highest-rated episode in 'Rock the Block' history," Latman declared.

Rock the Block added more HGTV heavyweights for subsequent seasons

Given the ratings success of the first season, it was a no-brainer that HGTV renewed "Rock the Block" for a second. When the network announced that sophomore season, the press release about the new season indicated some major additions to the cast. Chief among these additions was Ty Pennington of "Trading Spaces" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" fame, who was tapped to host. 

With Jasmine Roth and Alison Victoria back on board for Season 2, "Rock the Block" added the HGTV star power of "Holmes on Homes" contractor Mike Holmes, "designing dads" Nake Berkus and Jeremiah Brent, "My Lottery Dream Home" host and inaugural "Design Star" winner David Bromstad and his fellow "Design Star" winner Tiffany Brooks, and Brian and Mika Kleinschmidt of "100 Day Dream Home."

In addition, the new season also added a rotating panel of judges featuring a gaggle of HGTV talent, including "Flip of Flop" star Tarek El Moussa and then-fiancée Heather Rae Young (of "Selling Sunset" fame), along with Page Turner of "Fix My Flip," Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson ("Married to Real Estate"), Tamara Day ("Bargain Mansions"), Carmine Sabatella and Mike Pyle ("Inside Out"), and Ken and Anita Corsini ("Flipping Showdown"). 

Rock the Block has its own digital companion series

Not only could fans of HGTV's "Rock the Block" watch the show, they were also invited to take a deeper dive by checking out "Rock the Roundtable," an online companion series in which stars Mina Starsiak Hawk, Leanne Ford, Alison Victoria, and Jasmine Roth shared their insider impressions of each episode during the first season. 

Each episode of the digital series was hosted by Orlando Soria, described by IMDb as a Los Angeles-based "interior designer, artist, and writer," who made his HGTV debut as the assistant to "Design Star" winner Emily Henderson in her series "Secrets From a Stylist." 

Topics in "Rock the Roundtable" have run the gamut, with the debut episode featuring the women sharing their own stories of how they got their respective starts and ultimately wound up on HGTV. Subsequent episodes featured the four women describing their specific design styles, detailing their personal self-care regimens, and the ways in which they withstand societal expectations.

The reason everyone on Rock the Block wears the same outfits throughout each season

One common observation made by viewers of HGTV's "Rock the Block" is that the series' stars are seen wearing the same outfit in every single episode, from the season's first to its last. In a special online feature answering viewer questions posed on social media, HGTV provided the answer to that particular query by quoting the response that Brian Kleinschmidt offered when a fan posed that very question on one of his Instagram posts. "We had about four of the same outfits," he wrote. "It was our 'uniform.' Makes it easier to film the show."

According to HGTV, the cast wears the same outfit day in and day out for purposes of "continuity" over the course of production. "With so many stars on set filming various segments over the course of several weeks, producers worked hard to make the entire filming/editing process as seamless as possible — which included 'uniforms' for each of the stars," HGTV explained.

HGTV's post also confirmed Kleinschmidt's assertion that each member of the cast had "multiples" for each piece of clothing they wore, which also prevented the stars from having to "stress about deciding on different outfits."

Ty Pennington explained why the competition in Season 3 was 'incredibly difficult'

The third season of "Rock the Block," which premiered in February 2022, shook up the cast even more with the addition of such HGTV personalities as Jonathan Knight of "Farmhouse Fixer," and Dave and Jenny Marrs of "From Fixer to Fabulous." 

Meanwhile, as host Ty Pennington explained in an interview with TV Insider, the competition in the third season was the show's fiercest yet. As he pointed out, the competitors were undertaking the "Rock the Block" competitions in the midst of everything else going on in their lives. "And so, the stress of real life never really slows while you're also doing this incredibly difficult competition," he said. 

Pennington also pointed to some additional pandemic-related challenges that were specific to that particular season, which affected the teams' respective abilities to get their projects done within the appointed timeframe and under the agreed-upon budget. "And, let's just face it, it's Murphy's Law," Pennington added. "Whenever you take on a project, if something can go wrong, most likely it will go wrong."