The untold truth of HGTV's Rock the Block

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

According an October 2019 HGTV announcement, the event 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' Drew Scott — who serves as the series' 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 Popculture.com that the challenges she found herself facing on 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 on HGTV's Rock the Block that shocked her

The element of surprise keeps HGTV's 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 devoted to kitchen renovations, when a dilapidated old barn was wheeled up in front of the homes — and the women discovered they 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 Rock the Block. She admitted, "It was definitely a challenge." Windy City Rehab's 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 HGTV's 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 brings a wealth of home design and building experience to 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."

HGTV's Rock the Block star Leanne Ford made a huge career pivot at 30 and never regretted it

HGTV's 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 HGTV's Rock the Block star 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 HGTV's Rock the Block, Drew is flying 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's 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 PopCulture.com. "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 HGTV's 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." 

HGTV's Rock the Block star Jasmine Roth shared big news during the show'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, Rock the Block's Mina Starsiak Hawk thought she was being scammed

The skills that Mina Starsiak Hawk brought to HGTV's 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 HGTV's Rock the Block budget?

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," HGTV's Rock the Block star Leanne Ford jokingly told PopCulture.com

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 IndyStarnoting, "It was rough. I stress-cried a couple of times."

Which star on HGTV's Rock the Block is 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 Popculture.com, 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."

HGTV's Rock the Block features an impressive roster of special guests

Each episode of Rock the Block features a popular HGTV star to render his or her expert opinions on each individual project. According an October 2019 HGTV announcementFlip or Flop's 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' Mike Holmes brought his "Make It Right" expertise to judging the kitchen. 

But that's not all. Rehab Addict's 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."