Remote Controller switching channel to reality tvYou’ve seen those home renovation shows on various television networks that show you how to completely replace a kitchen in two days for $500 or to correct the sloppy and often dangerous work of an unprofessional contractor in just a week. Unfortunately, what you don’t know about the way these television shows are put together can hurt you by creating false impressions about many critical aspects of a project. The time it takes to effectively plan and implement a project, the true costs of completing the work, and the process behind the scenes are all too often glossed over or completely ignored.  Here are a few aspects of made-for-TV projects that are very different from what you can expect to happen in your home and costs that are not mentioned on TV:

Labor costs typically are not included.

All the designers and engineers who create the plans, the workmen who spend hours of their time bringing them to life, the expertise of the consultants who appear, the fees of the general contractor who coordinates and oversees the project and many more are never mentioned or factored in.

Details of obtaining proper permits often ignored.

The costs of pulling any necessary permits and the time it takes to obtain them are not mentioned.  Normally, the permitting process also entails some schedule delays as you wait to have the necessary inspections conducted by the City/County in order to proceed to the next step of the construction process.

Timeframes are shortened.

Remember that no matter how realistic everything seems, you ultimately are watching a TV show that has been condensed to fit into a particular time slot.  Because it is made to be entertaining, it simply cannot include every necessary – but sometimes mundane or repetitive – detail.

Material costs are not fully explained.

Oftentimes, companies will donate products to a show in exchange for product placement – which means their costs are not calculated. Many times, the products they are using are the latest and greatest, which is why their manufacturer is promoting them. Unfortunately, these products also come with a premium price tag for which homeowners may be unprepared. Likewise, some of the products depicted may not work in your application, which only a trained professional familiar with local codes, climate issues, etc. can tell you for certain.

Projects are often unrealistic.

Rarely do the crews of these shows run into the issues or complications inherent in renovation projects, which gives homeowners the false impression that they don’t need to work with a true professional. In reality, a renovation or repair is a complex combination of being able to locate the issue, address any difficulties that can and will pop up, and then rectify the situation in an organized, professional and timely manner.

Which leads to perhaps the most important difference – how you select a contractor. This is the vital step in any construction or renovation project that is all but ignored on these shows.  In future posts, we’ll look at key areas you may not know to ask about – like how the contractor’s relationship with trade partners can impact your project, how their view of craftsmanship will be reflected in your project and more.