Expert Awards

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Home Expert Awards: Home Improvement on Television

Media portrayals of “reality” often fall far short of real life. This is just as true about home improvement television as any other variety, but that doesn’t mean all home improvement shows are bad. It’s possible to separate the realistic from the absurd, with a little help from our home industry Experts. We asked for their insights about what reality television gets right–and what it gets horribly wrong. Here are a few of their comments.

What do you think of television portrayals of your industry?

Are there any shows that do a good job of reflecting reality? How about bad ones?

What unrealistic expectations have you come up against as a result of media portrayals?

Have you ever hired a new employee and had to correct their TV-inspired ideas about the industry?

If your business had a TV show, what would it focus on?

Most Inspiring

Having produced over 40 Plumbing videos, I will say that a video is far different than the real thing, but I am not willing to offer an opinion on which one is better. The learning how, is most different than a slick video, so I suggest a multitude of different viewings on any one trade before suggesting you have anything more than a glimpse. The 30 min. shows are the work of a couple hundred man hours of effort. The “wow, I could do that” is the real message too often. read more

Greg's comment really highlights one of the main problems with reality TV, which is that while it can be educational, it focused more on entertainment than education. That can mean viewers are easily misled to believe they can DIY something they saw on television when in fact they need to watch a few more tutorials, first. As long as homeowners are aware of this and get the proper education before trying a new project, home improvement television can be a great educational resource.

eLocal Expert Network

Most Creative

Dealing primarily with home buyers, I think shows like Holmes Inspection should be a must watch for all new buyers. While sometimes homebuying can be a very exciting and relatively stress free process, you need to do your homework. Realtors & inspectors are human, and sometimes have selfish needs in mind. Not that they intentionally scam people, but let’s just say you need to protect your own interests and be an educated consumer. read more

We love Kris' comment because it names a specific show and elaborates on how useful it is to real-life homeowners. You don't have to believe every contractor you hire is a scam artist, but it is important to be aware of the types of things scamming builders will do--which is where a show like Holmes Inspection can be helpful. Seeing what disasters other people have had to face can help you avoid those disasters yourself.

eLocal Expert Network

Most Insightful

Personally, I think HGTV’s Love it or List it is a great example of both an unrealistic and realistic program. The show presents unhappy homeowners with the opportunity to search the market for new properties as well as renovate their existing home. In the end the owners have the choice of loving their renovated home and staying put, or listing it and buying a new property. ... Now, the unrealistic aspect of the show is quite obvious. It is rare that a homeowner is able to afford a complete home makeover and splurge on a new home. It is also unusual to find listings both in budget and in the couples’ target, desirable area. ... The practical aspect of the show is centered on the obstacles that surface when renovating a home. ... When redesigning a home, one usually deals with unforeseen issues such as electrical problems, mold and water damage, load bearing walls, and code issues. These difficulties are often money-eaters and consume most of a reno budget. In these situations, Hilary is forced to spend a bulk of the money, even if it means not giving the family some of their non-negotiables. This reality helps take away the glamour of renovations and house rehabs. read more

Katie's comment is spot-on in highlighting how renovation shows can be both informative AND unrealistic. It's a prime example of how to ignore the patently ridiculous and pay attention to the things that are actually useful.

eLocal Expert Network

Most Articulate

I began working on homes with my dad as a kid. And despite a lifetime of doing new designs and remodeling, I usually get something useful from every show. The only complaint that I have is that since they get their tools and products from their sponsors, they too often use complicated and overly expensive solutions. read more

We like how specific Pablo is with his critique. Reality TV can be great for inspiration and discovering new tricks, but those tricks won't be any good if the tools they require are prohibitively expensive.

eLocal Expert Network

Most Informative

Since our focus is on comfort, health, safety and energy efficiency our projects tend to be a little less flashy and smaller too. We don’t turn a house upside down just to improve it. Over the last few years we did have some significant projects as part of a Deep Energy Retrofit study in upstate New York. It was the stuff of TV for sure, retrofitting exterior walls over existing ones, adding new siding, windows, high tech heating and ventilation equipment, working top to bottom, we even dubbed the projects “extreme energy makeovers.” read more

Jason's comment is great because it contextualizes the type of remodel you're likely to see on television within the kind of remodels that are most often done. Fancy, design-oriented remodels are fun, but more often people are looking to make their homes more functional, which is what Jason's company does. It may not be as glamorous, but it is just as important.

eLocal Expert Network

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