New reality show features participants on the jobsite

Reality TV isn’t just for survivors and bachelorettes anymore. A&E’s first reality series, “House of Dreams,” follows 16 participants as they work together to build a house.

Consider it a cross between “Survivor” and Bob Villa’s “This Old House,” except none of the contestants have any construction experience and instead of an exotic island, they are camped out on a jobsite near Orlando, Fla. In addition to the daily grind of masonry work, framing, cutting rebar and pouring cement, the participants have to undergo difficult projects to prove their skill and determination. At the end of each episode, one team member is voted off the show. The remaining participant at the end of the show wins the house.

The group isn’t alone in constructing the house. When the participants arrive at the jobsite during the first episode, the foundation has already been laid. The entire project is overseen not by the show’s host, George Wendt (also known as Norm from “Cheers”), but instead by a contractor who appears periodically throughout the series. Professionals also operate all major construction equipment.

Although the show hasn’t received rave reviews from critics, it has some notable casting. The participants are a varied group of people who range from a successful lawyer from New York to a new immigrant who wants the house to complete his “American dream.” One of the show participants, Matt, 26, is an investment banker who teaches high-risk high school students. If he wins, he wants to give the house to a student. Tony, on the other hand, is a 34-year-old homeless man who lives with his wife and two children in a shelter in Orlando.

The first episode of “House of Dreams” will air Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. eastern time.