On Saturday I was enjoying a nice trip to the gym, working up a light sweat while half-heartedly pedaling away on the elliptical and watching HGTV, as I do every time I’m at the gym. I’ve probably seen every episode of Property Brothers, Love It or List it and Fixer Upper at least twice, and I always end up talking to the TV like it can hear me (in the privacy of my own home), with running commentary on tile choices (hideous), furniture staging (that rug is so stupidly small), property selection (LIST IT!!! HOUSE #2 you big dummies!!!) and how much I love Chip Gaines. But on Saturday I ended up actually yelling at the TV in public while watching Property Brothers because I forgot people could hear me and I was so annoyed by what I was seeing and hearing involving a renovation budget.
Totally unrealistic cost depictions are a chronic issue with HGTV shows, but this one was exceptionally bad and it made me so frustrated. Jonathan and Drew were claiming that a full gut-to-the-studs kitchen renovation (new cabinets, counters, appliances, wiring, etc.- PLUS taking down two walls and putting down hardwood floors throughout the whole first floor of a home) was going to cost a “whopping $18,000”. Now, I know I live in an area of the country where home prices, and therefore renovations, cost way more than normal but this is absurd- the cost of labor, permits, dumpsters, the design they executed the products they used would have been easily $40-50k. Cabinets ALONE for a medium sized kitchen from a big box store like Home Depot would cost $6-8k easy (before installation costs!) Hardwood flooring for 1,000 square feet would be at least $6-7k for a $5 a square foot pre-finished product with installation. You can see that before we’ve even added in demo costs, appliances, lighting, plumbing fixtures we’ve almost hit their “budget”. These skewed numbers make my job as a designer so much harder.
Expectations set by clients based on these ridiculous “budgets” create disappointment and delusion. And it does the design/ build industry a disservice to make viewers think that re-wiring an entire house’s electrical system (many days work for an electrician crew of 2 people) costs $2,000. That’s so far off it’s hilarious and probably has caused many a electrician to curse when a client says “But on Fixer Upper that cost only $xxx…” And as cute as Chip and Joanna are, when they say that adding a powder room to a house is $5,000 I can’t help but shake my head knowing that simply moving a toilet from one wall to another (which is a lot of plumbing work involving cutting joists) cost me that much ALONE in my own bathroom renovation! (On a side note: do you think Waco, TX has had like, a massive influx of people relocating there based on home costs on this show??)
Does this frustrate you guys too? I still will watch the channel religiously because I love it, and Andrew and I have fun hotly debating the prices, choices and absurdity, but I can’t help but feel the budgets are getting more and more unrealistic (as all of reality TV is, I suppose!)