Truths About the Reality of Home Improvements

There’s nothing wrong with reality television. From The Real Housewives of Atlanta/Beverly Hills/Dallas/New York (take your pick) to The Bachelor, reality television provides us with an endless supply of guilty pleasures that help us escape the reality of our daily lives. This can cause a problem when we start to define our reality by the “reality” we see on TV. When it comes to realty shows focusing on home improvements, it’s helpful if we are clear about what’s real and what isn’t. That’s why we’re sharing a few truths about the reality of home improvements.

Time Frames. The home transformations we see on television range from half an hour to a full hour. Within that time, you see them buy the home, work through demo day, purchase all the needed materials, remodel the home, decorate the new space and then do the reveal. You barely have time to finish your snack of pita chips and hummus before it’s all complete. The truth is, depending on the scale, home improvements can take weeks, months to even years. Between contractors, crew, weather and permits (see the next point), several factors contribute to the timeline. Knowing this helps you set proper expectations.

Permit, Shermit. Many projects demonstrated on home improvement reality shows require permits. Adding rooms and major landscaping (among many other jobs) are governed by local governments. The truth is this important (and legal) step often is glossed over. Aside from the fact that this is required, it is also can add time to the project. Keeping this reality in mind can correct and adjust expectations.

Go Big. If the entire house itself isn’t being flipped, then often the show will show a complete renovation of a few rooms like the kitchen, master bathroom and living room. The truth is many times all that work isn’t required. You’ll know the needs of your home best, but recognize what needs true renovation work. There’s no need to invest in completely redoing the bones of your kitchen if simply updating the cabinets will garner the same return. You may find the rooms you think need major work can have minor tweaks. No need to work on several rooms if you don’t recoup your costs. Whatever you decide, you’ll want to feel as though the time and financial investment will pay off in the end.

DYI = NBD. The home improvement show may show you step by step how they did a certain project. It may look easy. You may think that Do It Yourself is No Big Deal. The truth is some jobs require a professional. Those you see accomplishing great things on the reality home improvement shows frequently have behind-the-scenes coaches to give them guidance and a helpful hand. You can save yourself time, frustration and more money in repairs if you start with those who are trained and knowledgeable about what is needed.

Bottom Line. During the course of the show, the program might share an overall budget or display how much some material costs, but that information should be taken with a grain of salt. The truth is the expenses you see may not be market prices. For television shows, many vendors and suppliers will cut deals with the production company for a little publicity on the program. Discounted price on the material? Sure! Free labor? No problem! Before trying to recreate what you see on television, take time to craft a budget that includes everything at actual costs. Getting quotes from vendors can help. When you come up with your initial bottom line, per the advice from experts, include an additional 20% to cover unexpected costs.

What You See Is What You Get. The big reveal moment is what we all love. The tears of the happy and deserving homeowners remind us there’s good in the world. The truth is the furniture, paintings and décor you see filling the home often is removed after the cameras stop rolling. The final staging looks beautiful, but by the time the show airs, the homeowners may be watching it while they sit on their old sofa.

We still love these home improvement reality shows. They create gorgeous homes and can spark some creative ideas. But even though the show might fall in the “reality” category, that doesn’t mean it’s all entirely true. Know the differences, and you can venture into the world of renovation with a clear mind.

You can contact The Crosby Team at First Choice Loan Services Inc. to help you learn more about the renovation programs we have that can make renovation ideas a true reality!

Dave Lewis
Senior Vice President, Renovation

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