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TV’s Best (and Worst) Home Improvement Shows

Many of us can get caught up in home improvement shows. And why not? They show us the home equivalent of a butterfly transformation. In 24 hours, this dim little caterpillar of a room can become a beautiful, bright, wonderful space. The catch: home improvement shows can give homeowners unrealistic expectations. Don’t wait until it’s too late to find out that your renovation dreams are unrealistic.

The best home improvement shows focus on the improvements that are best for you as a homeowner with regard to functionality, satisfaction, resale value, and other considerations such as monthly utilities and insurance costs.

The most dangerous TV shows to get hooked on are the ones that give you unrealistic expectations about a project’s time, budget, resale value, or quality. We all have our guilty pleasures, so simply enjoying these shows won’t hurt us. Just make sure you watch with several grains of salt close at hand.

The worst

  • Renovation Raiders: The concept of the show is that a team of renovators enters your home while you’re at dinner and completely redesigns a room. Renovation in the space of a few hours? What about quality, durability, or safety? This show may be incredibly attractive, but it’s just not realistic and gives homeowners false expectations.
  • Property Brothers: One brother shows you a dream house that you can’t afford and the other leads you to buy one that you can and they renovate the problem areas. What they don’t point out, however, is that they only renovate a few rooms at most, leaving homeowners with a dissatisfactory house overall.
  • The 60 Minute Takeover: This British show shares the same offense as Renovation Raiders. Can you make meaningful changes in a room that won’t fall apart or drip after the hour of filming ends? You can’t.

The best

  • This Old House: This program shows the renovation of one house over an entire season. It depicts a reasonable timeline and is honest about its unlimited budget. The clear message: Professional, quality work that will last years after the cameras have stopped filming takes time and effort.
  • Design on a Dime: A good home improvement project doesn’t have to be expensive as long as the show’s renovators are honest about costs. On Design on a Dime, all improvements cost less than $1,000 and focus on one specific problem area in the home.
  • Renovation Realities: Like its name suggests, this show depicts the real side of home renovation, with all of its setbacks, budget issues, and tribulations. Believe it or not, the ugly truth can help you by showing you that you’re not the only one with setbacks.
  • Sweat Equity: This show is great because it focuses on projects that will add the most value to your home. Sometimes these projects could surprise you: among the top ones are a deck, siding replacement, and window replacements. Among the worst for adding value are an upscale master suite and a bathroom addition.

Home improvement reality shows can become addicting, but remember to take a step back if you plan to take on your own project. A home renovation can be taxing, expensive, and add unwanted hazards to your home. For example, adding a pool can cause your home insurance premiums to skyrocket.

If a DIY project doesn’t go well in your home, you’re left to clean up the mess. So next time you want to try something you’ve seen on HGTV or the DIY network, plan ahead and do your research. That way, if you measure twice, you can truly only cut once.