If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Reality TV is a bit of a misnomer; the shows we watch are anything but real life. They are carefully scripted and produced to generate ratings. That’s why it may not be a good idea to rely on a home renovation show to offer quality building restoration.

Alternate Timelines

Since television shows have tight turnaround times for filming and editing, the truth is that most people featured on an episode of a house-hunting series have already purchased one of the houses they tour. Additionally, the renovations you see throughout an episode have likely spanned weeks, if not months. But, with the magic of editing, it appears they successfully executed a project to completion in mere days.

In reality, building restoration and renovations take hours of careful planning, sourcing materials, applying for permits, organizing contractors, and carrying out the labor. While a homeowner may appear to get a new kitchen or bathroom in one hour, the truth is far from that depiction.

The Bottom Line

TV shows are all about the bottom line. They want engaging content that can boost ratings, and their contracts don’t do much to protect homeowners during the process. There may be perks such as discounts on materials or labor, but the quality of work often suffers as a result. Many home renovation participants end up revealing later that they’re not satisfied with the projects that were featured on the reality show.

Why It’s Worth Hiring a Professional Contractor

If you want to be able to trust the contractor who’s overseeing or completing the work on your home, it’s important to hire a professional. Vetting a contractor in the “real world” is hard enough without adding the pressure of TV into the mix. But, if you’re focusing on a renovation that involves restoring historic masonry, preserving original woodwork, or repurposing materials to give them a new life, you should turn to an expert in the field, not just someone with the goal of making good TV.

Homeowners Foot the Bill

How often do you watch one of these home improvement shows and never see anyone discuss the budget? You may be under the assumption that the production foots the bill, allowing homeowners to have the house of their dreams without spending their life savings. The truth is that before filming, homeowners have submitted audition tapes to be selected for the show, and all the details of the budget and design are determined off-screen. Homeowners are responsible to cover the renovation costs, and they don’t get paid for participating on the show.

Recently in Salt Lake, allegations of TV hosts misappropriating funds and leaving projects without finishing them have hit the news. Homeowners thought they were signing on for a project that would be featured on a popular network, only to be faced with increased budgets, lack of communication, and unfinished or unsatisfactory projects. Regardless of whether these allegations prove to be true or not, the experience has left the homeowners, the hosts, and the network with a slew of problems to sort through. In addition to the initial renovation budget, when something goes awry with a TV renovation, lawyer fees add up for everyone.

Additional Fees Apply

Did you know that when a project is completed on a home renovation show that the homeowners don’t get to keep the staged items unless they purchase them? Every carefully curated piece of furniture, linen, and decor comes at an additional cost on top of the renovation itself. As a result, many show participants end up having to store their original belongings until the reveal is over, or they have to start anew with furnishings once filming is wrapped. 

Viewers may not be aware that many times, the increased property taxes and utility bills of renovated homes sometimes become more than the homeowner can afford. They may have budgeted responsibly for the reno with the TV crew, but what they don’t always plan for are the ongoing expenses of maintaining the home after the improvements.

Pinch Hitters

Often, the draw of a home improvement show is the host. From Chip and Jo to Bob Vila, homeowners love the prospect of working with someone they’ve admired on their screen season after season. However, the reality is that most homeowners work with designers who represent the host(s) and only share a few minutes of actual facetime with them for the show. While your design plans may reflect the aesthetics of the host’s brand, it can be disappointed to have them presented by a pinch hitter instead of the all-star who hosts the show.

When you work with Abstract Masonry on a Salt Lake City restoration project, we promise to always send our A-team. All our experts are experienced with various materials, including adobe, brick, concrete, and stucco.

What You See is Not Always What You Get

Participants in some popular home reno shows have revealed that the production crew filmed more than one reveal or ending to their episode. For example, if a homeowner is on a show that focuses on remodeling a home and giving the owner the option to stay or to sell when the job is done, both outcomes are filmed.

This gives the TV show the option to edit both endings and determine which one to air based on how well it will do with viewers. So while you may see a show wrapping up with the homeowner deciding to sell their newly remodeled digs, in reality, the homeowner might still be living there. Additionally, some homeowners retain ownership of their renovated properties but no longer use them as their primary dwelling. It’s becoming common for homes featured on TV shows to be rented as Airbnb or VRBO properties. It’s a great way to leverage the exposure given by having the home projects aired on national TV.

If you want to be involved with experts who will be with you every step of the way, consider foregoing flashy reality TV designers. The building restoration team at Abstract Masonry has been doing restoration for thirty years, and we aren’t motivated by viewer ratings– instead, we care about preserving the historic integrity of your property.