Design Tips

Real Life Remodeling vs. Home Renovation TV Shows

Home remodeling TV shows are entertaining and can be a great source of inspiration. However, they fail to depict real life remodeling stories.

Because we live in a world of instant gratification, it’s not too surprising that seeing an outdated or rundown home transform into a stunning, modern living space—in less than an hour’s time—would appeal to us.

Unfortunately, however, these shows present an unrealistic renovation process complete with rushed turnarounds, modest cost breakdowns, and “unexpected” complications staged for dramatic effect.

3 Falsehoods of Home Renovation TV

This guide will explore the differences between home remodeling TV shows vs. real life remodeling. Spoiler alert: the reality is much better!

Misrepresentation of Timelines

On television, a home renovation is completed in just under a week. Yet, in reality, home remodels can take up to one year or longer to complete, depending on the following factors:

  • The project’s scope
  • Your current home’s condition
  • Availability of materials/labor
  • Local ordinances

Take our home state of Minnesota, for example. Regional pricing and performance standards are much higher here than in other U.S. states. This is a positive for Minnesotans regarding quality and durability. Instead of having contractors rush through the design and build of your renovation, leaving room for errors that require expensive “redos” later, you can feel confident knowing your professional renovation must follow a stringent set of industry standards before, during, and after launch.

However, this also means you cannot base your estimated budget on a popular television show either.

Planning Is a Conversation vs. a Detailed Process

Planning is another essential factor in a home’s renovation, which takes considerable time, resources, and expertise to complete. For example, on a home renovation show, the lead designers and builders meet for a 5-minute discussion on the project and then get to work.

Therefore, you typically don’t see the year-long planning process where the design was created and approved, construction contracts were signed, and warranties and permits were obtained.

Sure, this might not sound entertaining, but these are essential steps to ensure a successful remodeling project.

This brings us to an important point. Home renovation shows have the tendency of making big, dramatic scenes out of potential obstacles to the project.

Does this sound familiar?

The builders swing a sledgehammer into a dividing wall only to discover a structural deficit that could ruin everything. 

The reality: You don’t typically need to tear into a wall to understand whether it’s structural. Instead, checking a few holes, for example, will usually do the trick. But, most importantly, your design and build team should already know about any structural issues if they’d investigated reasonably to identify potential trouble.

To put it simply, it’s common for TV shows to make a huge deal out of what should be relatively simple things to have assessed for a professional. That’s not to say that unknown things don’t arise—trust us: they do! But a professional will try to eliminate as many obstacles as possible through careful inspection. Of course, there are occasionally things you can’t know, even with early inspection, but it should occur less often with a good professional who performs a proper review beforehand.

Hopefully, this puts your mind at ease and helps you see that the drama of remodeling a space is best left on TV.

Lack of Craftsmanship

As many of these shows only have an hour to entertain and keep you engaged, there is little time to focus on craftsmanship. For example, many of these shows focus on building something to look aesthetically pleasing for the camera. However, after 6-8 months, it looks less attractive, and the homeowner finds out it was constructed in a way that doesn’t provide durability or utility—meaning it’s essentially useless.

In addition to the 3 false realities noted above, let’s explore a few other FAQs regarding home remodeling TV shows vs. real life remodeling:

What is the most realistic home improvement show?

The truth is that even those that dive deeper into a home renovation’s planning, design, and construction aspects are still scripted and staged. 

They aim to showcase an hour of stunning before and after makeovers with a little drama sprinkled in-between. After all, the goal is to keep audiences engaged enough to hang around to watch the network’s advertisers.

However, as we mentioned, these shows do provide some beautiful ideas and inspiration. Therefore, they have their place and purpose, but you must always remember that they are created for your entertainment.

Who pays for renovations on reality shows?

There are many critical players in renovation shows that help cover costs. For example, many shows will have materials donated to them from other businesses to promote their products. 

Additionally, designers and contractors may donate their time and skills for potential brand exposure. Finally, homeowners may also pay a portion of the renovation, typically behind the scenes.

Are HGTV remodel costs accurate?

No, often not all the costs are accounted for. As mentioned, contractors may volunteer their services and team for network exposure, while much of the materials used are donated. 

Additionally, if another renovation or repair is required before the remodel can start, that transaction and work are typically done beforehand (i.e., updating plumbing, electrical, etc.); therefore, they may not be included in the final cost.

Planning Your Home Remodel

TV shows skip the critical steps of obtaining permits, working with contractors and architects, and ensuring your design is structurally sound. Therefore, it’s nice to know this really is just fiction. 

In real life remodeling, working with a professional company will take time to properly plan and execute a home renovation to ensure it’s safe, made to last, and meets your “why.”

Understanding Your Why

If you’re planning an upcoming remodel, before you even schedule a consultation, consider your why:

  • Why do you want this renovation? 
  • Why is now the right time for this project?

Perhaps, your kids have moved out, you recently got a promotion, or you’re tired of trying to cook in an outdated kitchen you inherited from a previous homeowner. 

Next, what do you hope to achieve from the renovation? Do you want more space, a master bath that feels like you’re walking into a 5-star hotel, or a family entertainment area to support your growing family?

Finally, what is your desired outcome from a living perspective?

Before anything can begin, it’s essential to look at the big picture and understand your “why.” Then, you can find a partner who understands your why and will make your vision into a reality. 

Ready To Get Started?

If you understand your “why” and are ready to see your dream design come to life, contact us today to discover the benefits of an organized, reliable process with a truly personalized design approach.

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about us and see our past work, check out our YouTube channel for some “real life” remodeling success stories!