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  • Writer's pictureMorgan Jones

What Renovation TV Doesn’t Show You

Talk about an addiction, we can’t get enough of watching other people transform the OUTDATED and abandoned into the beautiful and cherished. I’m an absolute sucker for predictable plotlines and yet, I chose a profession where we continually challenge ourselves to take risks—which at times, makes the narrative much more unpredictable, but just as much fun.

There is more to the story than the television cameras want to show you.

As someone who spent countless hours binging renovation TV episode after episode, I later found as a pro in the business that “Reality TV” is not really… reality… The reported budgets, timelines, and setbacks are much more fictional. Your designer often doesn’t have the luxury of editing out rotted subfloors, supply chain delays, inflated material costs, and contractor shortages.

Even though we wish we could, trust me… If I could sway the executives of The Office to do a spin-off called “The Showroom”, here’s the top three things that we’d break the fourth wall for:

Planning Ahead & Scheduling Contractors

One thing the design shows don’t talk about is the casting call for experienced, reliable contractors. Fact is there are fewer all-purpose expert trades people today and they are already booked months in advance. So unlike homeowners on television that have an instant established crew of plumbers, electricians, and tile installers—it takes time to get on their schedule and stay on their schedule.

If you’re thinking about getting work done in your home, it’s important to get quotes for moving the waterline and installing the new hardwoods while you’re picking out cabinet colors. Vetting the RIGHT person to do the work is equally important, if I had a quarter for every time someone has fired or stopped hearing from the contractor (we could probably pay for your kitchen too). 😉

Budgeting & Prioritizing Our Money Must Haves

Often local cabinet and staging companies provide products/furniture for discounted prices when featured on the big network shows, and that TV $50,000 overall budget will most likely get you your dream kitchen and appliances. But not your 2 additional bathrooms, engineered flooring, tile backsplash, lighting fixtures, mother-in-law suite, built-in bookshelves, fireplace, and family heirloom hand-crafted into a dining table.

Plus, if you look closely, they’re typically building the RTA cabinet boxes onsite (instead of using manufacturerd cabinetry), hand-spraying, and they rarely open the cabinets doors because they certainly won’t contain all those rollouts and organizers you love! Just remember these three words, Pinterest is pricey.

Timeline & Hiccups

Every now and then the design shows will throw in a 1-minute clip of the contractor throwing a $10,000 wrench in the plans, but they often don’t show the cost of the smaller (more realistic) delays of moving your plumbing to the island, adding a gas line, venting the hood exhaust outside, drywalling where you removed tile.

And did you ever notice how healthy everyone is on TV, no one calling out sick, or getting the cell call to run and get their kiddos from day care. Everyday life is the reality of a renovation so plan for that. But don’t fret, as long as you have realistic expectations up front, your renovation will end in the happiness of the TV quality home that you are dreaming of.


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