TV creates false economy for home renos - MoneySense

TV creates false economy for home renos

Spend $5,000 on hardwood floor installation: smart. Spend $15,000 installing the same floor, not so smart.


I have a confession. Ok, two confessions.

First: I like to watch T.V.

Say that in a crowded bar in Toronto’s ultra-urban, ultra-cool west side and you’re suddenly considered a social pariah.

Second: My husband and I are addicted – and I mean addicted – to design and build shows.

I don’t care if it’s Income Property, Holmes on Homes, Love It or List It, Divine Design, or one of the dozens of other series that litter the dial (like Canada’s Worst Handyman, which is always good for a laugh) I’ll watch it all.

But because I watch it all — and because my husband is an accomplished residential and commercial interior general contractor — I’ve got one big beef with just about all these shows: the budgets are wrong. Dead wrong.

Even when a budget isn’t stated in the show, I have to cringe when these half-hour design and build gurus move from one big plan to the next, as if money wasn’t a factor.

For instance, on one cottage makeover show, the host didn’t get her roof completed before weather halted work. Yet, she did instruct her workers to install brand new hardwood floors. Months later everyone returned to the site and, guess what, the floors were ruined.

Ok, I’ll concede: hardwood installation isn’t the most expensive job on the list, but when you spend $5,000 on a job only to have to redo it, that’s when costs can climb.

(For me, the most cringe-worthy component of that episode was learning that it was actually the third time new hardwood had been installed. Seriously?? Three times and still no roof? For the love of reno-sanity, somebody hire a general contractor!)

The problem is that many of these shows suggest that even the least-handy of the bunch can handle complex home renovations and redesigns. Or the cost for professional work is so low that we go into sticker shock when we ask for quotes on our own house.

Remove a wall to make a bigger bathroom for less than $5,000. Sure, if you paid back-of-the-truck sort of labour for the entire job. Something I certainly don’t suggest. What about an entire kitchen reno and redesign for under $10,000. Please! Not while I’m sipping hot coffee. These TV-inspired low-ball quotes are ridiculous.

That’s why I’d love to see a show where actual costs are used for actual renovations. Now that’s a challenge.

If you are planning on renovating or redesigning your place check out the following tools and links for some helpful, cost-effective ways to create a plan, and stay on budget: