Choosing a Contractor

A Designer’s Thoughts on HGTV

“Lately I have seen several articles referencing questionable practices/budgets on Home Remodeling reality shows. I used to be obsessed with watching them. I love what I do and love seeing other people’s work. This past weekend I spent some time flipping through my old favorites, but I found the longer I watched the more agitated I became. One show in particular had me screaming at my TV.

So often today I face budget challenges created by the misrepresentation of costs on these reality shows. The one that had me so annoyed was a home in Seattle, Washington, with a proposed addition and a budget of $40,000.00. As I ranted I was reminded by my fellow TV watcher that this home is in Seattle with a purchase price of $200,000.00. Obviously you cannot purchase a single family home in Montgomery County, Maryland for $200,000.00 so of course you cannot add an addition in Montgomery County for $40,000.00. But alas, some think it should be so.

Recently, one of the shows was sued by the homeowners for using money ear marked for construction to finance TV production (learn more here). Another article states that if you want the furniture and decorative items featured in your TV remodel, it’s an extra. As much as these shows provide us with ideas, creative solutions and just plain old entertainment, they do not provide us with a true construction education. Often times the kitchen is quoted as a $25,000.00 renovation, but what they don’t tell you is that the cabinets came in a box, requiring labor to assemble, and that all of the appliances etc., were provided by a sponsor. Labor costs are generally not even discussed.

I think the best show is Holmes and Homes where Mike Holmes provides a cost breakdown at the end of each show for all materials and SubContractors and reminds us that the total does not include his team’s labor.

Each area of our great nation is unique and so are the housing costs. Do your research, get referrals and ask for a solid budget breakdown before construction begins to get an accurate feel for cost in your region. It would be nice if all of our remodels had sponsors to provide free materials but in the real world that doesn’t happen. So while HGTV is fun to watch don’t let it be your remodeling education.”

Peggy Card
Kitchen and Bath Designer

Merrick Design and Build 

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