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HGTV Remodeling Shows: Reality vs. Entertainment

Home and Garden Television is very entertaining to anyone with even a passing interest in home improvement and all things DIY. Unfortunately, much of what you see on HGTV kitchen remodel shows does not always reflect the reality of remodeling. Naturally, they do have a responsibility to their shareholders to grow their brand and provide entertaining, if unrealistic TV shows, that draw in views and sell ads.

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HGTV contractors often present the budgets for the people they appear to be working for, or have worked with. But the questionable renovations you see on camera often cost more in real life than the audience is led to believe. The producers will often use discounted materials and services in order to reduce production costs and don't let the audience know.


Why HGTV Often Sets Unrealistic Expectations

HGTV is entertaining, but the prices and the results you see on those types of programs are not always representative of reality. You should really think of it as a kind of DIY escapism. You might get a few pieces of valuable information out of it, but it can be hard to sort out the fact from the fiction unless you're a professional renovation contractor yourself with experience in the industry.

These programs often make it look like getting the perfect home is both easier and cheaper than it really is. It can be fun to watch, but when we see them misleading audiences, it can be a little cringe-worthy. It can be hard for customers to understand that what they have seen on TV is not realistic since these shows portray themselves as a form of “reality TV.” All too often, folks come into our office, excited about what HGTV has led them to believe is possible only to be disappointed, and we're left with the unenviable task of setting the record straight.


Remodeling Budgets Misrepresented

The way the producers handle the budgeting parts of the show does seem convincing at first. You will see a homeowner, or more often a married couple who own the home together, tell the team that they have a tight budget and that they absolutely cannot exceed it. A common budget you'll see cited might be something like $50,000. That's a respectable amount of money to spend on a project. But on these programs you often see the homeowners get everything on their list fleshed out many times with some money left over.

It would be lovely if every renovation turned out that way. But in reality, more often than not, you're going to see some things scratched off your wish list in order to stay under budget. This is especially true if you're not using discounted materials and services.

One story from The New Yorker shows how viewers almost never get to see the whole picture when it comes to the cost of the renovations you see on HGTV. According to them, HGTV rarely stays under the budgets they are given by the homeowners. Even with the discounted services and materials, they still go over budget. When this happens, they quietly spend the money and just chalk it up to production for the program itself.


The Price of Entertainment

These programs have been so wildly successful that executives have been brainstorming a laundry list of similar but even more sensational shows. With titles like “Meth-House Makeover” and “Nightmare Neighbors 911,” it's easy to see that they are catering to a highly engaged audience. It's also clear that most of the fans of these types of programs are not in it for any potential educational value, but for sensationalism.

The pandemic has forced many TV studios to shut down, and the disruptions to supply chains have made lumber and other building materials unseasonably expensive. The good news for homeowners and for the construction industry is that the supply chains are on the mend recently and are projected to improve significantly by next summer. For these TV studios, the prognosis is a bit grimmer.

With their bottom line severely damaged by the pandemic, they are looking for program ideas that are going to be very inexpensive to produce, coupled with a format that lends itself to shock value. Sadly, it appears they will soon be targeting audiences that are even less prepared to judge the costs of construction work for themselves than their current audiences.

The end result of this will be disappointed homeowners, busted budgets, and renovations not completed.

While it gives us no pleasure to share this disappointing news about these popular programs, we hope to enlighten our readers about what they can actually expect from their home makeover and leave you satisfied with a beautiful new custom home. That being said, we work hard to bring your dream home to life and will consult with you regularly to help keep your project on time and under budget. Give us a call, or find us online today to learn more.