HGTV and Unrealistic Expectations

HGTV and Unrealistic Expectations

When you view a creative movie adaptation of your favorite book, you’re able to enjoy each experience much more if you think of them as completely separate stories. The same is true of real-life remodels versus tv show remodels. While there are many variances between reality remodeling shows and real-life remodeling projects, most of these differences can be classified into two major categories: money and time.


Fact: you’d be hard-pressed to accomplish the renovations you see on TV in your own home using the same budget. Why? There are several factors that play into this answer, but here are a few:

  1. Materials and labor are generally discounted through sponsors and partners for the sake of advertising.

  2. Homeowners featured on the shows come in with their own budget for remodels.

  3. Wholesale prices obtained by the renovators are often passed along to homeowners.

  4. Often, not everything seen in the big reveal at a show’s end is included in the renovation cost. The remodels themselves are included in the budget, of course, but furniture and accessories are often there just to stage the potential for the final home. Plus, any of these items that are gifted to homeowners later have to be taxed as gifts at the year’s end.

While some might say home shows “lie” about budgets, it’s more the case that the advertising and TV industries simply work completely differently than ordinary, real-life transactions, and this is partly in order to tell a compelling story. For more accurate ballpark figures for your own home remodel, take a look at our 2019 Cost Report


Home remodeling show timelines are also far shorter than real-life remodeling show timelines. Again, why the discrepancy?

  1. In TV shows, contractors begin work immediately. In real life, most reputable contractors have a waiting list.

  2. Homeowners featured on shows have an extremely short time period in which they must move out for renovation. In real life, the move-out process takes longer or else homeowners stay in the home during renovation, slowing the process.

  3. The hosts of the show aren’t the only people doing the work. Usually, local crews will be working around the clock to complete renovations in an extremely tight timeline.

  4. Homeowners don’t have as much say over the design. In real life remodels, the homeowner, contractor, and design team work together closely to ensure the homeowner’s vision is being realized in the final design. Often, this requires several drafts and revisions. In home remodeling TV shows, hosts usually preview and make decisions about how they’ll design a home ahead of time with little to no input from the homeowner.

  5. Beyond all this, it’s an obvious point but one still worth mentioning that home shows always feel faster than real life remodels since they’re often condensed into a mere 43 minutes or less, versus the several months (or years) a homeowner spends planning and saving for a remodel, finding a contractor, getting a start date that works for both parties, and then actually remodeling.

A Real-Life Paradigm

While there are both advantages and disadvantages to real-life remodeling versus reality TV show remodeling, real life remodels allow homeowners a much greater degree of control and involvement.

Real-life remodels allow homeowners to understand and make decisions on each line item expense, ensure that each element of the design aligns with their vision, and feel confident in the quality of the craftsmanship since they know each crew that enters their home.

2024 Atlanta Remodeling Cost Guide (variant A)