Have Remodeling Reality Shows Got You Frustrated Or Angry?

Remodeling reality shows can be misleading

Remodeling reality shows can be fun, inspiring — and frustrating!


Misinformation Is Rampant!

Remodeling reality shows are still popular, despite the bad press they’ve received.  I don’t know about how you feel, but it frustrates the heck out of me, because these programs spread misinformation to Homeowners. There’s a glut of home remodeling shows on several channels. Although they are fun to watch, they should be viewed as entertainment and not as serious “How-To” guidelines. There are several categories of misinformation that get my blood boiling:

•  The time it takes to do a project
•  Overall cost of the project — what consumers would pay for something similar
•  Realistic cost of labor and materials — how much the Homeowners actually paid
•  You’ll save a lot of money if you do the work yourself!

The Time It Takes To Do A Project

The audience has no way of knowing how much of  the actual filmed project ended up on the editing room floor. This can cause serious problems for D-I-Yers and remodeling consumers who think that a bathroom can be remodeled in a week or less. A standard 5×8 bathroom remodeling project can take four to six weeks (or more), from demolition to completion. And the time frame they tell you doesn’t include the time required to make decisions or get permits before construction starts!

Overall Cost Of The Project

Consumers have no way to gauge their investment in a remodeling project, because there is no information shared about the bottom-line real numbers. It’s not unusual for Homeowners to call a contractor, architect, or designer, and expect a full kitchen remodel for about $25,000, or a full bathroom remodel for about $10,000. Reality is, the Homeowners’ investment in these projects will likely be double or triple what they think it will be. Major sticker shock!

Realistic Cost Of Labor And Materials

Labor for similar projects can vary 10% – 30%. Why? It relates directly to the location and size of the remodeling company, and the company’s overhead. What the “reality” remodeling shows don’t tell us is whether or not the general contractor, usually the program host, is being compensated by sponsors, by the Homeowners, or both. The same is true for products. If Homeowners use sponsors’ products, they could get those products free, or for a greatly-reduced price. This gives them more money to purchase products that may not be reasonable for the audience to include in their remodeling projects.

“Do It Yourself — You’ll Save A Lot Of Money!”

Yes, it’s possible to save money by doing the work yourself, but if a D-I-Y project goes awry, it’s going to cost more in the long run to hire an expert to fix the problem. Some, but not all, of the projects on reality remodeling shows can be done by D-I-Yers. I’ve never seen a disclaimer on any of the remodeling shows about how much experience is required. If you don’t have a professional-quality chop saw, router, or other tools shown, consider how much it will cost to buy these.

Safety is another important issue. I’ve not seen any safety guidelines, either, about wearing protective apparel and having good ventilation. For beginners, this is great information. But for experienced D-I-Yers, this information is boring. Time to flip to another channel! The host could include a short segment at the beginning or end of the show, with tips and guidelines for safety. It could be entertaining, if done like “Tim the Toolman Taylor”.

I’m not alone in the criticism of home remodeling reality shows. The Kiplinger Online Magazine stated, “While having the viewing experience might seem helpful, it can be misleading if you are actually looking to remodel or buy a home.” And, “When you see a large project get finished quickly on television, what you don’t see is all of the scrambling that goes on behind the scenes to get the job done on time.” In this article, they hit the nail squarely on the head.

Real Reality!

Remodeling reality shows on HGTV and D-I-Y  may be trying to inspire Homeowners to update their homes, but these shows can also have a reverse-psychology effect on consumers. Recently, when a contractor referred a professional designer to his clients, the wife immediately thought, “Oh, no, she’s going to recommend weird and expensive stuff!” It took a fair amount of persuasion to convince the Homeowners that the designer would actually listen to their needs and honor their budget constraints. That’s remodeling reality in the real world!

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