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  • Amanda Arcone

3 Important Things Home Renovation TV Shows Don’t Tell You

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

HGTV and all the other home and design shows offer 30 minutes of high drama and expectations. Design reno shows follow the same formula most movies follow. The heroine has a problem, in this case, an outdated house that needs myriad updates. The villain in this movie? Usually, time, money, and resources. And the hero, the knight and shining armor, the host that saves the day, or in most cases, saves nothing and replaces it with little character. And then, of course, the big happy ending with tears, excitement, and smiles. This may sound cheeky, but like most movies, this isn't the reality of redoing a home, no matter the size of the project.

Detail #1: The Design is Set Long Before Demo Day

Before the camera starts rolling, the designers work hard behind the scenes BEFORE any work is done. TV shows depict demo day happening before the homeowner picks out finishes. It Does NOT happen like this. Here's what happens instead. Simply put, lots of things happen. Depending on the scope of your renovation or design, plans are drawn up, a contractor and subcontractors are chosen, and complicated schedules are developed to be sure all the pieces fall into place correctly. Never mind the permit process. Selecting finishes is arduous, from flooring, cabinetry, doors, hinges, lighting, and so on. Just writing this is exhausting. Most of these processes aren't very glamorous and TV worthy.

Detail #2: The Timeline is Reasonable & Well-Thought-Out

TV shows portray massive crews working around the clock to meet unrealistic deadlines; that is not real life. Actual projects involve real people working hard for you during regular business hours. With tight schedules, labor shortages, and materials difficult to source, the reality is that it takes lots of people lots of time to do even a small project. Never mind a whole house or partial home remodel. The timelines are extensive and are in constant change.

Detail #3: The Investment is Inclusive of All Materials & Labor

Another miss on the design shows rarely discuss the time and labor budgets. They may touch on an overall budget, but nothing in detail is shared about time, materials, and labor costs. The reality is that these three complex components are not mutually exclusive, and one can significantly impact the other decisions made in the entirety of the process.

The moral of my silly little story today is to enjoy the shows for what they offer but before you embark on a renovation, be sure to hire the right professionals. Be sure to have your budget and ideas generally outlined and expect the reality to tell more than you think about everything, the cost, the time, and your emotional energy.

Get a certified designer to help you with design ideas for other elements like lighting, finishes, and furnishings. Get the experts to help you set expectations sooner versus later, helping you save time, money, and frustration.

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