America is currently experiencing a huge surge in home improvement spending. One of the contributing factors to this rise in remodeling spending is the growing popularity of television networks like HGTV that regularly feature programs in which dated homes are completely transformed in the span of one hour (forty five minutes after you account for commercial breaks). Seeing these kinds of transformations can get homeowners to invest some money into upgrading their home–which is a good thing–but it can also set up unrealistic expectations in a couple of different ways.
Of course no one watches a program on HGTV and believes for a second that the home was completely remodeled in one hour, but even knowing that TV magic is responsible for making the remodel go a lot faster than it really is, television shows still put the idea in people’s minds that remodels go by relatively quickly. The reason for this isn’t clever TV editing. The studios that produce these programs for television networks have access to huge teams of skilled contractors. Since the faster they crank out episodes, the more money they generate, they are able to get materials on order much faster than it would ordinarily take and they always have the best of the best people on hand to tackle unforeseen issues that would ordinarily bog down a remodel.
Real remodeling contractors, on the other hand, may be balancing other projects. They may not be able to work every day. There will be delays when work can’t be continued without supplies that are on order. Unforeseen problems can set back a remodel days or weeks. These are things that simply don’t happen on television, or if they do, they’re glossed over and made to seem easier than they would be in real life.
The contractors you see featured on remodeling shows are being paid in part for their appearance on the show in the form of free advertising. It establishes their reputation when they’re invited to be on a show that will have hundreds of thousands of viewers and will make it easier to get future work. As such, it’s in their best interest to work for less than they would otherwise charge. These shows also gloss over the added costs when their are those inevitable hangups. In reality, assembling a dream team of excellent contractors who will drop everything to put your home first would cost a fortune.
Moral of the story
Home improvement television programs can be a great source of inspiration but they should be used to form predictions about how your remodel will play out. You can avoid disappointment by going in with realistic expectations. Plan on your remodel going over budget and over deadline and you won’t be as disappointed when it happens. Another consideration is to try and eliminate the hassle of hiring and working with contractors in the first place. You can opt for a series of smaller DIY projects like installing baseboard radiator covers or tiling a backsplash so you have more control over the pace and cost of the remodel.