HGTV is enjoyed by many Canadians. Programs about real estate, home and garden design, and renovations are favourites. I’ve watched many of these shows over the years, especially leading up to the rebuild of my own home. They can offer a wonderful way to unwind and fuel the inspiration to rethink your living space.

Popular shows have given viewers greater insight into home renovation projects. For example, understanding the role and importance of using a general contractor. Also, how renovations can update a home and transform it into a more functional space— allowing people to love their homes again.

On the flipside, HGTV programming doesn’t provide a complete picture. Many fans do not realize that the footage simply cannot capture the many steps of the decision-making and planning process, all the required professionals, or even the true cost of the project. This is a problem because, in the absence of other accessible sources of consolidated information about these projects, HGTV has become a popular, yet incomplete, source of information for those considering home renovation and rebuild projects.

A missing element of the decision-making process

The analysis of whether a home is a good candidate for renovation is a very important aspect of the decision-making process, yet I’ve never seen this covered in a program. It clearly happens behind the scenes as some homes are selected over others to be the subject of an episode. But, this valuable analysis is not shared with the audience. Its absence may lead viewers to assume that all houses make good renovation candidates or all renovation projects are wise decisions. This is not true. Unfortunately, those without building industry experience do not realize this, and likely won’t spot the issues before they commit to a major project.

Missing elements of the planning process

Did you know you should tell home insurers and mortgage providers about upcoming work on the home? It is important to contact them not only to inform them of the scope of the work that will be undertaken on the house, but also to determine if any additional measures need to be taken before the work begins. Frequently homeowners are unaware, and proceed without ensuring that adequate measures are in place. Where projects proceed and are completed without major issue, there are likely few negative consequences.  However, when projects run into issues, there can be major repercussions for the homeowner if they haven’t made this disclosure at the outset of the project and taken the appropriate measures.

This is just one example of the many important aspects of the planning process that are never included in a TV show, likely because they are too tedious and boring.

Missing professionals and lost opportunities

While HGTV has done wonders to teach us that home renovation projects involve contractors, sub-trades and designers, structural engineers and architects have been given very little exposure. In fairness, smaller remodelling projects probably don’t require them, but they definitely have a role in larger projects that entail structural changes. As a result, there is a gap in knowledge about what these professionals do and how they can add value to these projects.

Did you know that in addition to providing architectural drawings, architects can also assist by preparing the documents for permit applications, advising on the conditions and form of the contract with the contractor, and providing general review services during the construction.  These are valuable offerings for those who aren’t knowledgeable about construction and are making a huge financial investment in renovating or rebuilding a home. Their services come at a price that many prefer to avoid in order to cut costs.  However, they can save you money by helping you avoid the heartache and expense of costly mistakes. Allowing them to use the full measure of their training and experience will benefit your project. Read more about the value of a good team.

Missing costs

While I can see why HGTV programs may not capture all aspects of decision-making, planning and professionals, I wish they would be more comprehensive in listing their project costs. MoneySense analyzed the provided costs in a 2013 Income Property episode with Scott McGillivray.  Mr. McGillivray’s Executive Assistant confirmed to MoneySense that the provided figure did not account for the contractor’s overhead and profit, costs the average viewer would have to assume. Quoted figures like these can give viewers the wrong idea about typical budgets. To generate a realistic budget you need to know and include all the costs a homeowner will incur.

Where to get an education?

Entertainment won’t provide you with the full picture or the solid foundation you require to move forward knowledgeably. We hope to fill the gaps with education about the full scope of such projects. To complement the ideas and inspiration you enjoy on HGTV and gain a more complete understanding of the Reno/rebuild process, book a two hour Love Your Home Strategy Session.