How Remodeling TV Shows Give Us Unrealistic Expectations

Home remodeling TV shows are like fairy tales: homeowner finds perfect contractor who is handsome and rich with an entourage composed of producers, workers, sponsors with free stuff, designers and a makeup artist; the remodeling job takes a week and costs $30,000, and homeowner lives happily ever after in a dream castle.

But like fairy tales, remodeling shows have writers in the background who create make-believe stories.

The truth goes something more like homeowner has very little clue as to what he or she wants and changes the design a few times, driving the time and cost of the project higher; materials and labor actually cost money; and because we are living in the real world the remodeling job takes time.

No doubt that home improvement shows can stimulate the creative process, give us good ideas, and help us keep up with the latest trends, but they also paint a picture (no pun intended) that is unrealistic.

Here are some key points to consider:

A distorted view of time

1. When interviewed, some home improvement producers admitted that they adjust schedules and use creative licenses to make the show entertaining. In other words, a week-long remodeling project occurs only on TV. Don’t forget that this is show business. The time-lapse is not real. Framing on the concrete that was poured just an hour ago, didn’t really happen. The concrete was given proper time to cure before building on it, 1 to 3 days, a fact conveniently omitted from the story line. This being just one example how the length of the project of a remodeling shown on TV belongs in a story with Prince Charming. The real-life schedule is more like a frog that stays a frog even when kissed.

2. The crew featured by the camera is usually only a fraction of the total number of people working on the project. For every person the viewer sees, another 5 are working around the clock. It is not unusual for 15 hours to work to translate into a five-minute segment giving the viewer the erroneous idea that the remodeling goes very quickly.

3. A meeting between the home owner and TV contractor, featured as a 15 second scene, is shot in 30 takes to get it right. In real life, those meetings do take time and especially so if the homeowner doesn’t have a clear vision of what the end product is supposed to look like.

4. TV shows do not feature the time needed to pull permits, do inspections and time needed to acquire special materials and build custom items such as kitchen cabinets.

TV budgets are not real life budgets

1. To make the job go faster it is common for cheaper materials to be used. For instance, hardwood flooring will be sacrificed for laminate. But when remodeling one’s home the quality of materials used needs to be carefully considered, especially if the homeowner plans for the remodeling to last.

2. Sponsors will provide free or discounted materials and some contractors will slash their fee, or even work for nothing, to get free advertising. This alone gives an unrealistic idea of the actual budget needed for a remodel.

In summary, home improvement TV shows, like fairy tales, are fun and entertaining, but when remodeling one’s home it is highly recommended to approach the subject with realistic expectations. Going in the project thinking that all is singing birds and gentle dwarves might end one within the clutches of the Evil Queen also known as Major Disappointment.

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