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TV home makeovers vs. real renovations

When it comes to renovations, there are a number of unforeseen circumstances that can often occur, causing progress to slow to a grind while the issues are sorted out by your professional general contractor. eieihome spoke to Paul Napolitano of Royal Home Improvements who was invaluable in revealing the differences between a real renovation, and what you see on television.


One of the key differences between what you watch on TV, and what you experience in real life, is the price point. Since most of the home renovation shows are based in the United States, they tend to reflect the US dollar.  “This causes a discrepancy with costs for Canadian viewers as both labour and material costs are cheaper in the United States,” reveals Napolitano.


Budgeting is an important part of any renovation, and the problem with most television makeovers is that the full budget is almost never revealed.  They inexplicably come in on budget.  Part of this is because many people will change their minds during the renovation, which can add to the overall cost.  Furthermore, the televised renovations won’t include any kind of budget for furniture and accessories, yet you always see a fully furnished and accessorized home.  This is called ‘staging’ and is meant to showcase what it could look like with a little more money spent.


Anybody who has ever had a renovation done on their home knows that timelines aren’t set in stone, they’re flexible and are not always the fault of one party or the other. “While television home-makeovers will show an entire basement renovated within a weeks’ time, it almost never actually happens like that,” says Napolitano. Materials are delayed, or mold and asbestos needs to be removed.  Both can push back the timeline of the project.

Permits can also impact your timelines, as a permit is required for things as small as putting in a new toilet to making structural changes. You have to apply for the permit and then wait for it to be approved, a part that the televised shows rarely mention.

While watching reality home-makeover shows might be inspiring, it’s important to be realistic, and discuss your plans with a professional.

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