Rosie Romero special for the Arizona Daily Star
Qquestion : I watch a lot of home improvement reality shows and get a bunch of ideas for my house. How real are the plans for these shows?
To respond: I’m thrilled that you and countless other homeowners are inspired to start home improvement projects. There are some great home improvement shows that are inspirational and educational. But reality TV is not necessarily our reality.
When watching these shows, keep in mind that first and foremost, these shows should be viewed as entertainment. The networks they appear on are looking for ratings, and they will go to great lengths to get them, and that is the problem. It’s one thing to find inspiration and ideas, and another to think that what you see on TV is what you actually get. In most cases, real life is not what is depicted.
“Oh, how far we could go on this,” says Bruce Stumbo, project manager at Rosie Right, Design. To build. Remodel. “Basically it boils down to a few things. But one, the price is very unrealistic. They have to get a lot of the items donated or provided at cost for the show, because in almost every show I’ve seen the price is at a minimum, half the realistic cost. Also, deadlines. Although our schedules are very tight, some people have unrealistic expectations of how long a project will last by watching a show for 45 minutes.
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Trendy vs Classic
These shows do a great job of promoting remodeling, educating audiences on the latest home improvement trends, and encouraging them to don their weekend warriors. But be careful not to fall into the fashion trap. Do you remember Shabby Chic? Barn doors? Live laugh Love ? Keep calm and carry on? Well, don’t get carried away with what’s trendy. Fashion does not last.
Renovation work on home improvement shows in relation to what the real cost of jobs in the country usually does not line up. Compare what you see on TV to the costs in your area via the cost/value ratio (tucne.ws/costvvalue).
“I often mention ‘non-reality’ TV and talk about the unrealistic timelines and budgets for these programs,” says Rochelle Horn, designer for Rosie Right, Design. To build. Remodel. “It provides a fluid way to discuss budgets.”
Some homeowners who appear on the shows receive appliances and other items from the show’s sponsors. They may also be paid for their appearance. Services can also be free.
Do a Google search for home improvement shows (not the one with Tim Allen, which was one of Rosie’s favorites). You’ll find plenty of stories about homeowners featured on shows that have shelled out a lot more money than expected.
Other than a “This Old House” episode in Phoenix circa 1986, a few “Extreme Makeover – Home Edition” episodes, and a “Hoarders” episode, I’m not aware of any other home improvement shows filmed in Arizona. For an Arizona homeowner, finding inspiration can be a problem. Sure, you can come up with decorating ideas, but the materials and techniques used are generally not recommended in our hot, dry climate. Many of these shows are filmed in Texas, the South, Canada and Southern California. Also, the cost of the renovation is not representative of what we have here. Again, look at the cost vs value ratio.
Timed for TV
Have you seen any homeowners or contractors featured on these shows line up outside city offices waiting for permits to be reviewed for work on electrical changes, moving plumbing, and removing walls from their houses ? No. Filing and paying for permits happens behind the scenes and can add a bit of time to an actual renovation.
Kitchens cannot be designed, demolished and completed in a week, as often described. It can take months. In the current economic climate and with current material shortages, it can take nearly a year for all materials and fixtures to arrive, not to mention the labor required to complete the project.
In many cases, the final reveal of homes is staged with brand new furniture and fixtures. Sometimes they are custom made. The owners cannot keep these things after the renovation unless they pay for them. You must therefore take these costs into account when estimating the project.
There are also cases when the house was left unfinished after wrapping. These shows are scripted and the producers choose what they want you to see.
These shows also don’t accurately capture the realistic amount of noise, dust and dirt that remodeling can create or the frustration of not being able to use a bathroom for weeks or a kitchen for months.
There are stories all over the internet about homeowners who went on these shows and couldn’t afford to keep their homes remodeled. The costs to maintain them were so exorbitant. According to Desert News, monthly utility bills for a home in Arizona shown more than a decade ago have gone from $500 to $1,200 and property taxes have increased fivefold. In 2009, the home was put up for sale (after failing to sell it two years earlier), lowering the original asking price from $1.8 million to $800,000, then eventually selling for $540,000. .
So if you’re going to up the ante on bells and whistles, make sure you can afford their upkeep and the increased property value they can bring with them.
And, if there’s a casting call for homes in your area, be careful before you jump at the chance. Know what you’re getting into before you sign on the dotted line.
In summary: find inspiration, get ideas, be entertained and know that what you see is not the real world.
An expert in the Arizona home construction and renovation industry since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning show Rosie on the House, which airs locally from 10-11 a.m. on KNST (790- AM) in Tucson and 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KGVY (1080-AM) and (100.7-FM) in Green Valley.