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Remodelers question reality of home makeover shows

Reality television shows that feature instant home makeovers are popular, but some remodelers say that such shows paint an unrealistic picture of the time and money required to remodel a home.

“A lot of these shows tend to glorify the low cost,” says Craig Knott, owner of Houseworks Unlimited. “Not just that it can get done in three hours, but that the costs are very low.”

“I end up getting called in by a heavy do-it-yourself watcher, my prices and time lines blow the homeowners’ minds so much that I never get a call back,” says Ari Fingeroth, owner and project manager of Federalist Builders. He added that the clients are often unaware about permits or lead times for special order items, which could potentially delay work or lead to higher costs.

Still, remodelers say that these home improvement shows-from Property Brothers and Vanilla Ice Project to This Old House and Holmes Makes It Right-are giving clients new ideas and helping the remodeling industry to recover after a decrease in business in recent years. The shows also force remodelers to keep pace with the latest trends.

The popularity of these shows is evident in the ratings: HGTV was the second most-watched channel on weekend cable programming among viewers aged 25 to 54.

“Anyone in the industry, period, should be watching these shows,” said Mike Holmes, host of Holmes on Homes, who admits to also being a cynic of some of the reality shows that make the remodeling process look too easy.

Holmes said reality TV shows like his can help professionals speak homeowners’ language and can be used as an education tool.

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