The HGTV Effect
HGTV can be addictive; viewership numbers are staggering. Are you a fan or a fanatic? Do you have your own favorite home renovation reality show?
For 20 years, HGTV and their competitors A&E, Bravo and DIY have fueled an explosion in home remodeling spending and they have shaped how we view our own homes. People are more knowledgeable about home design trends, the process and what they can do to change an outdated or dysfunctional house into a chic, stylish and highly desirable home.
But how closely do these remodels reflect a homeowner’s real remodeling experience?
In most cases, not much. Here are 2 very key differences.
1) Project Length – Real renovations take longer than those on ‘reality’ TV. TV show remodels appear to be completed within just a few weeks. Here are just a few of the things you don’t see.
- Work done behind the scenes and after hours. There may be a full crew working around the clock to accommodate a shooting schedule.
- Turn-around times for ordered materials to be shipped, received and checked for ok-ness.
- Time spent creating and submitting drawings and plans and your city’s response time for more drafts or approvals.
- Delays arising from homeowner indecision, change orders, inclement weather and unforeseen construction issues.
2) Pricing – Prices on TV remodel projects are usually much lower than what your prices will be. This is not because your contractor is trying to fleece you; it’s because TV show renovation costs are not the same as real-life ones.
Consider for example, Max Weissman, executive producer of several remodeling shows, who says,
“Production companies can work out lower rates with contractors…. We’re able to negotiate very good prices with them because we tell them, ‘this is what we’re going to do; you’re going to get paid on time, we’re not going to change our mind, and you’re going to be able to get it done quickly.”
Add to that the bonus of being on television…most remodelers will take a sizable pay cut. Sometimes, they may even do the job for free. Sometimes suppliers donate materials for free because of the great exposure. Any one of these is enough to misrepresent what things cost for a consumer. Lastly, construction and remodeling costs vary by geographic market. Imagine if we had the same labor rates, building codes, construction requirements and home values as those customers in Virginia or even Tacoma.
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Rather than be influenced by alleged “reality” TV shows, determine the scope of your renovation project based on your needs, your budget and your taste, with a nod toward current design trends and resale value, if it’s appropriate for you.
There is one common denominator and universal truth that can be found in all of these shows. When investing in your most valuable financial asset, use qualified and knowledgeable construction experts. You don’t want to be the homeowner who finds out after the fact that those remodeling dollars you spent need to be re-spent to get it right.