What is “Bargain Mansions”?
The brainchild of Conveyor Media, “Bargain Mansions” is a DIY Network home renovation series, that follows a tried and trusted formula in which the host, Tamara Day, buys dilapidated homes to bring back to life and hopefully sell at a profit.
A mother of four and a restoration enthusiast, Tamara herself comes from a line of home renovators and construction workers. The Missourian grew up on her family’s Kansas farm, and spent many years helping her father, Ward Schraeder, maintain and repair the property’s buildings.
After graduating, the spunky host began building a reputation as a talented interior designer and creator of custom furnishings, and was soon approached by Conveyor Media and offered the opportunity to be on TV. Surprisingly, Tamara was skeptical at first, and didn’t think that much would come of it – which changed when “Bargain Mansions” became a smash hit similar to “Fixer to Fabulous”.
Seasons One to Three
The first season of “Bargain Mansions” alone boosted DIY Network’s entire ratings by a staggering 29% before moving over to HGTV. With ratings growing from season to season, the show reached the peak of its popularity in June 2020, and was also ranked a top 10 cable program in its time slot with over 16.3 million total viewers – over five million total viewers more than season two.
Jane Latman, the president at HGTV, previously hailed Tamara as “one of our most exciting up-and-coming home reno stars”, and with good reason. Known for blending sustainability with smart technology, the interior designer’s most popular projects include her work on an unfinished 1938 cottage, a dated French chateau, and an abandoned 1890s Craftsman-style home.
From fixing structural damage to constructing cathedral ceilings, no task is too big for Tamara and her father, despite their occasional disagreements – and the dynamic duo have made sure to capitalize on their popularity, giving local fans of the show the chance to purchase furniture that appears in the show. By popular demand, episodes of “Bargain Mansions” also doubled in length in season three, although the format otherwise remained unchanged.
Ward previously confided on his website that he delved into the world of home renovation when the family fell on hard times, and couldn’t afford to hire a contractor. After doing the paintwork, basement construction, and decking out of sheer necessity, he realized that this was something he could make a career out of.
As it happens, the Kansas native wasn’t meant to be part of the show. However, he dazzled the production team with his presence and big personality, when he stopped by to see an episode being shot, and is now considered indispensable by “Bargain Mansions” fans.
Growing Days Home
Business is often booming in Growing Days Home, Tamara’s décor shop, interior design studio, and showroom, and she also writes personal blog posts with in-depth information about each renovation. As is commonplace with home renovation shows, companies will often provide goods in exchange for publicity, and it’s highly likely that Tamara also makes money by advertising said products.
Another benefit of becoming a household name is Tamara’s new business direction. After years of hard work, in 2019 she launched her own e-design website to help home-owners regardless of their location, and without having to travel. As she explained in an interview: “We can do as much or as little online as someone wants, from picking paint colors for one room to any full-scale design.”
Apart from the services provided in four unique packages, clients who are willing to pay more can also have the privilege of a 40-minute video consultation with the host.
Lead Paint Scandal
There’s no need for fabricated drama on “Bargain Mansions”: when the premise of a show involves breathing new life into dilapidated mansions, it’s a given that there’ll be hurdles to overcome in each renovation. There’s always something to keep viewers entertained, from homes being plagued by wood rot, to the team tearing up old floorboards and making unpleasant discoveries, without resorting to staged antics.
Nevertheless, Tamara’s only real scandal to date was pretty serious; in late 2019, Tamara and Nicole Curtis of “Rehab Addict” landed in hot water with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), after improperly disposing of lead-based paint during renovations, thus violating the Toxic Substances Control Act’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule.
A press release from the EPA revealed that said violations were featured on each host’s show. Apparently, Tamara and Nicole had failed to obtain the necessary EPA renovation firm certification, and to comply with “several work practice standards required for the safe handling and disposal of lead-based paint”.
Tamara and Nicole’s companies reached settlements with the EPA in early 2020, paying civil penalties and promising to ensure compliance with relevant regulations in future projects. They also agreed to educate the public about the hazards of lead-based paint, and appropriate renovation procedures.
Rumors of “Bargain Mansions” being cancelled for good began circulating online in early 2021, after fans heavily criticized Tamara’s latest designs, with the host’s personal touches being described as “bad”, “hideous”, and even “creepy”. One Twitter user said quite harshly: “I didn’t think Tamara could outdo herself destroying these designs UNTIL I saw episode 4 Season 3.”
Some disgruntled netizens also claimed that the host “barked” at her father, and showed no respect for him, and although a few isolated comments aren’t an indicator of Tamara’s popularity, some news outlets used them as evidence that the show had been pulled, so would not be returning for a fourth season. Around the same time, Tamara’s blog posts also became much more sporadic, as she refused to confirm or deny the speculations.
However, potentially crestfallen fans of the show were relieved to discover via Tamara’s Instagram profile that filming for season four was underway, commencing in late January 2022. Despite no premiere date being announced, it’s thought that the newest episodes will air in late the same year.
My family is looking forward TONIGHTS new episode of Bargain Mansions! 9|8 Central on @HGTV . Who’s looking forward with us?! 😊️
Seasoned fans of Tamara are well aware of the unshakeable bond she shares with her life partner, Bill Day. The handsome couple have definitely come a long way since their first meeting in 1998, while managing booths at the Bartle Hall convention center – from marrying in November 2000 to completing their family with three sons and a daughter, Tamara and Bill are considered one of Instagram’s most wholesome and low-key marriages.
Although opposites attract, Tamara previously shared on her blog that she shares a lot in common with Bill: his experience in flipping houses was just one of the many things that brought them together. In 2008, the couple purchased their dream property, just before the worldwide financial crisis sabotaged their plans of hiring professionals for renovation work.
A mother of three at the time, Tamara did most of the renovation herself, and travelled to garage sales in search of cheap furniture. Luckily, the daunting project proved to be the foundation for her design business, which later led to her show.
Fans who are curious to know more about Bill outside of his appearances on the show are in luck. Online records show that the affable businessman and Kansas City Chiefs fan, graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting in 1992, where he had also been a member of the famous Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
Bill set up his first company, BL Day Properties in 1995,. He later held the position of Regional Vice President in a national investment firm, before moving on to bigger and better things and becoming the co-owner and partner of Integrated Wealth Advisory Service Inc. The company helps people create wealth management plans, and has been going strong since the ‘90s, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Along with Craig Splan and Tray Wiltse, Bill is one of the company’s three high-flying financial advisors. Craig, the current president, graduated from the University of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in economics, and obtained his Certified Financial Planner designation just three years later. Having previously worked with the Federal Reserve, he joined Integrated Wealth in 1999, and now oversees its day-to-day operations.
Tray, who joined the firm in 2005, graduated from Rockhurst University with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. His star-studded resume includes the years of hard work he put in as an advisor for a major financial services firm, and his current job scope at Integrated Wealth includes consulting entrepreneurs, and helping families manage their estates.
As for Bill, he focuses mainly on the medical community, helping professionals and practices with wealth management and retirement plans, as well as advising families on how to handle their investment assets for future generations.
Despite juggling parenthood and demanding careers, Tamara and Bill make plenty of time for each other, and always enjoy the moment, be it at group outings or romantic date nights. Recently, the entrepreneur even penned Tamara a sweet Instagram message that read: “What an awesome day with my incredible wife and mom to our family. We love you so much and hope you had a great Mother’s Day.”
As a businessman, builder and venture capitalist, Ward is a self-described jack of all trades and self-made man, who believes in the rewards of hard work. From banking to managing medical facilities, the Kansas native has his hands full between work and filming for “Bargain Mansions”, but still manages to spend some quiet time on his ranch whenever possible.
Ward began building and fixing things as an adolescent, when he helped his high school football coach build a home, and rebuilt his grandfather’s ranch house alongside his father. As he moved up the corporate ladder, Ward and his family often moved, and built new homes, which led to him “employing” his four children and teaching them construction. In fact, he enjoyed it so much that he began remodeling homes as a hobby, and showed his kids just about everything, from installing sheetrock to using tools. Today, Ward and his wife Trish live in the first home which was rehabilitated on “Bargain Mansions”, after decades of neglect.
It’s not surprising that Ward applies his philosophy of “finding something broken, fixing it, and turning it into a success” to his career, and also makes a living acquiring failing myriad businesses. When a friend of his father-in-law’s commented that he was looking for a manager for a supply distribution company on the verge of bankruptcy, Ward stepped up to the challenging task, and helped rescue said company after a lot of hard work, turning it into just one of his many success stories.
Other ventures of Ward’s include a food distribution company, medical imaging centers, assisted living facilities, and a dairy that employs over 2,500 people, but his extensive business portfolio doesn’t stop there: recently, the entrepreneur has opened a winery in Oregon, and he also owns Freddy’s food franchises, and dabbles in real estate.
One of Ward’s most ambitious projects came about in December 2019, when he joined the board of Rocket Crafters, also known as Vaya Space. Thanks to hybrid technology and innovative thinking, the Florida-based propulsion and launch services company promises to get clients into space quickly and cheaply. With space travel becoming a booming market, Ward’s expertise in manufacturing and distribution, as well as his strong leadership skills, are more than welcome.
With that said, Ward also finds time to enjoy and better himself. The skilled outdoorsman loves researching far-flung destinations around the globe, with an example being his annual trip to Scotland to hunt, while wearing the country’s traditional tartan plaid clothing. His website includes healthy recipes and family travel tips, and possibly some music soon, as the Kansas native recently took up guitar classes.
Little is known of his wife Trish and his other three children, although they make the occasional appearance on his blog posts. One of the businessman’s latest construction projects involves remodeling his great-grandfather’s century-old farmhouse.
However, “Bargain Mansions” fans have no need for concern, as they will be seeing him in the latest season.