Renovation in the Age of Reality TV


Like most people who love home-related television, you’ve probably watched a renovation show or two. From flipping homes around the country to everyone’s favorite Texas couple taking the worst houses in the best neighborhoods and turning them into amazing family homes, there is a remodeling show for everyone. While fun and a little addictive, these shows have changed the world of renovation and remodeling. Spend a Saturday watching episode after episode and you may come away feeling like a bit of an expert ready to hire a company to tackle that kitchen renovation. However these shows, like all reality TV programs, aren’t showing you a realistic remodel or renovation. They have also altered the perception of the industry by creating unrealistic timelines and expectations. Here are a few things you should know so the ideas from your favorite show and the reality of a renovation don’t clash during your next project. 


Adjust your expectations

On TV, an elaborate project that should take weeks or months is often completed in less than 30 minutes. First, they make the design process seem like a quick meeting in which the clients sits down, loves everything they are presented with, and then everyone goes on their way happy, with no changes. In reality, that process takes time and multiple meetings and many decisions. Second, while a program will highlight a problem or two to help with the arch of the episode, you aren’t seeing the myriad of issues the contractor may have run into through the process. Also, the problems shown in the episode can be the easiest ones to solve so don’t assume you will have the same easy fix during your project. A savvy general contractor knows there is no substitute for careful planning and preparation. Ultimately, the goal is to complete your project in an efficient manner, cost-effectively and above all, ethically, to save you unnecessary aggravation. 


Realize everything takes longer than you think

If the timeline sounds too good to be true, it often is. One episode on the home and garden network of choice represents months of work so make sure you are working with a general contractor and company that creates a reasonable timeline based on the scale of your project. An honest contractor may not know the true timetable for completion until he/she sees what’s behind the walls during demolition. Too many people assume if it is on the “original” blueprints, the structure was built that way, but often that is not the case. Changes can be made during construction. You want a contractor who utilizes advanced technology, in conjunction with substantial construction knowledge, to be able to think outside the box or be able to reverse engineer a solution.


Looking good isn’t good enough

With every vendor acting as a sponsor on a TV show, the producers may be satisfied to just show off a product and not as concerned with the practical applications or if the home even needs the product. A good general contractor will always assess functionality, cost-effectiveness and longevity to determine the strongest value proposition for their clients. 


Price is no object on TV

Cost is certainly important to you if you are paying for a renovation. Be wary of how your job is being priced. Don’t accept or expect a quick proposal. Expect your contractor to explain the pros and cons of a lump sum versus a cost plus approach. An honest company will spend considerable time to create a strong value proposition and use a combination of strategies to approach the project and a system to help you evaluate your priorities.   


Your contractor is your partner, not your employee

I believe in having a consumer-centric focus. You are our partner and collectively we succeed at creating the strongest value proposition. Hire an advocate, someone who understands your situation: Are you planning on living in your renovated home for 20 more years? Or do you plan to flip it? (Discuss your ROI either way). Maybe you don’t need a renovation at all. Perhaps a remodeling will do instead. An honest company will point that out. Find someone you can talk with easily. You want a general contractor who possesses active listening skills, who both asks and answers questions thoroughly. Transparency is vital.

ARCS was founded in 2009 by brothers Michael and Steve Peel to complement their already established new home division Gulfstream Homes. They pride themselves on their excellent work, experienced team, and extensive referral network of happy clients.

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