The Scrap House

Common Sense Media says

Family-friendly reality TV built on recycling.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Encourages recycling and other environmentally responsible behavior and sends the message that with patience and determination, almost anything is possible.

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"F--king" is bleeped out several times, and "kick some ass" is used.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the premise of this program -- building a complete home from scrap material in 30 days -- leads to some pretty stressful situations for those involved. The builders, architects, and site managers sometimes get on each other's nerves, acting impatiently and swearing (harsher words are bleeped). But the core messages about recycling and creativity are good, and it's fun to watch the house come together.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

In SCRAP HOUSE, viewers go on a wild ride with a team of architects, construction managers, and builders who are attempting to build a house in 30 days using entirely found/recycled materials. The team of San Francisco-based building experts accepted National Geographic's challenge to take green building to the next level in honor of 2005's World Environment Day. The group includes Laurence Kornfield, chief building inspector for the city and county of San Francisco; general contractor John Pollard; and architect John Peterson. Together they design a 1,000-square-foot house with 21-foot ceilings and set out to build it in four weeks using only materials found in local scrap yards. Along the way, the team runs into problems that they have to solve creatively and ecologically: How can they insulate the structure? (With telephone books.) How should they cover the walls of a room? (With discarded fire hoses.) Where can they find a chandelier? (Make one out of traffic lights.)

Is it any good?


Inherent in Scrap House is the hallmark of many of today's reality shows: suspense. Each day, the builders and designers must sort through local dumps to find useable materials and improvise when they come up dry. Lacking aluminum siding, for example, they hunt down discarded street signs and use them for shingles; or they gather hundreds of shower doors, paint them, and plaster them to the front and side walls -- all as time ticks by.

Thanks to public service campaigns and the diligent work of local politicians, recycling is a part of our lives as never before; Scrap House is a clever take on that new fact of life. The experts involved in the building are endearing and knowledgeable, and parents can feel good about letting their kids watch, knowing that they'll be entertained and get a lesson in sustainable living.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about recycling. How do recycling and reusing materials benefit the environment? Why is it important to dispose of waste properly? Is building a house like the one in this program realistic? If not, what are some more middle-of-the-road options? What can families do to be more eco-friendly?

This review of The Scrap House was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byTJBS March 28, 2009


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