4 Misconceptions About HGTV Remodeling Shows

Interior Design by Urbane Design

We get it, do-it-yourself home remodeling shows on HGTV are fun to watch. You get to see all of the best parts of a home remodel: shopping for the perfect craftsman bungalow in a quaint neighborhood, reviewing expertly-designed AutoCAD renderings of the future space, the joyous rush of taking a sledgehammer to walls, and adding perfectly-placed vases and accent pillows as final touches. (All within 6 weeks and under budget)! If these shows always seemed too good to be true, it’s because they are. DIY reality shows are far from reality; they give homeowners unrealistic expectations on construction timelines, budgets, and the remodeling process overall. In this article, we’ll break down some of the biggest misconceptions of do-it-yourself remodeling shows so that you can have proper expectations for your own fixer upper.

Misconception #1: Remodeling a home can be done in a matter of months.

Home remodeling shows usually follow a similar pattern. The homeowners are looking for their dream space and have a modest budget. They buy an old property in a desirable neighborhood and completely gut it. The result is a stunning home with brand new flooring, windows, appliances, finishes…and, the best part is, it all happened in six to eight weeks! 

Anyone who has remodeled a home knows this could not be further from the truth. Full home remodels can take as long as six months to one year depending on the scope of work. When working with a professional interior designer, projects are broken down into phases from measuring a space, finalizing space planning, design concepting, schematics, construction documents, procurement, construction and final installation. On TV, homeowners don’t have to wait for cabinets, appliances, or tile to arrive because everything was ordered beforehand and is waiting to be installed. Countless aspects contribute to the overall timeline: the design process, availability of materials, availability of construction teams and tradesmen, and city permitting to name a few. At any given time, one of these aspects of a project could fall behind — creating a domino effect of every milestone of the project that comes after. Patience is the most important mindset to have during a home remodel.

Misconception #2: You can remodel your home with a small budget

A whole home remodel can cost anywhere from $75,000 to $200,000+   (largely depending on your location).  This is an undertaking that requires a serious budget. Reality shows like Fixer Upper feature clients with renovation budgets around $111,000. While this could get you considerable renovations in parts of your home, it is highly unlikely that this budget would get you far in a whole home remodel as you see on TV. It’s important to keep in mind that many of the furniture and decorations you see in these network reality shows are actually just for staging purposes — it all leaves with the crew when filming is over. So while it may seem that a family is getting a move-in ready home at the end of each episode, they are actually still left with the task and cost of re-furnishing and decorating the entire space.

Misconception #3: The average person can remodel a home

There is quite literally an entire team of people working behind the scenes of your favorite reality shows. Complete home remodels require the expertise of certified design and build professionals, interior designers, general contractors, architects, plumbers, electricians — the list goes on. Attempting a remodeling project without these expert tradesmen and women is not only dangerous, but could diminish the value of your home when you decide to sell. Selling a home without proper permits can also significantly reduce the value of the property due to the risk of work not being completed to city code. If problems do arise and permits weren’t pulled — and a homeowner’s insurance claim is presented — the insurance will likely reject the claim. Anything related to gas, electrical, plumbing, or construction requires proper permitting, which is why it’s important to hire pros that have experience dealing with these complexities.

It’s also important to note that the average person is not likely to have a garage full of professional-grade tools. The amount of money you’d spend buying or renting tools to get the job done yourself will add up quickly. And trust us — the cost to fix mistakes down the line is never worth the money you think you’re saving by doing it yourself.

Misconception #4: Project roadblocks can be resolved with a single phone call

Reality shows  don’t come without at least one setback per episode, which itself is pretty realistic. A single project could encounter countless delays and that is totally normal. What isn’t normal is the rate in which the issues get resolved. On TV, it typically takes one phone call to make a decision and move on without interrupting the overall timeline. In real life, a single roadblock — like a backordered part or material selection — could delay installation by weeks or even months. Which brings us back to our first lesson: it is always, always, always important to pack your patience when it comes to any kind of design and construction work.

We’re not saying you should stop binging your favorite home design shows. Watch away and get inspired! Just don’t let everything you watch affect your expectations for your own remodel. If you stay patient, set aside a realistic budget, and hire professionals, you’ll be one step closer to the home of your dreams.