There are a lot of things that send shudders down my spine when I watch reality TV renovation programs. Working in the home renovation industry for some time I have had to talk through many a fanciful, TV-inspired idea to illustrate why it is not really appropriate for a particular client’s project.
Here are some key points to consider the next time your armchair indulgence inspires a renovation project.
First and foremost, you are not competing against the Jones’s, the Clock, or for Prize money. Taking inspiration is one thing, but just because you saw it on TV, the internet, in a magazine, or your neighbours’ home, does not mean it is possible or the right thing for your home, family or lifestyle. For instance, many people ask for a free standing bath to be installed during the bathroom renovation, when in fact, they can be difficult to clean, unsuitable for bathing small children and take up way too much space. Think carefully about what you want to include and how it is going to work.
TV renovations often make it seem as if they really did renovate a whole home in 60 minutes while the owner was out walking the dog. The fact is, without the benefit of nationwide TV exposure most suppliers and trades do not drop every other project they are working on to run to your aid. Products have lead times, trades have schedules, and projects have sequences in which the work needs to be carried out. Professional planning will result in all of this running smoothly. The satisfaction of a job well done, of a sense of value and an experience that was within expectation – those are prizes worth winning!
While TV loves a drama, building sites are better off without them. A renovation, by its very nature, is working with or within an existing structure. There will be things that are unexpected or off plan and the older the original property is the more likely this is to occur. An experienced professional will be more aware of what to expect in different properties and for different projects. Avoiding re-work, return visits, delays and on-the-fly decision making will not only lower stress, it will save time and money. Just the development of a clear set of plans and specifications will save some disasters.
Despite the chaos some TV programs seem to endorse, having multiple trades in a room all trying to carry out their specific work is a recipe for disaster. You cannot be tiling the floor and installing the light fittings at the same time. A professional organisation will project manage the renovation so that products and trades people arrive at the right time. Having resources waiting around for something else to finish costs money.
A real build schedule will have some buffer days built into it. If your project is efficient enough not to require them, you might be in the lucky situation of finishing ahead of schedule or having a couple of lay days in the middle. Make the most of these to recheck work carried out or in progress, as often an issue saved early is easier to rectify. No issues? Great, use the time to organise the site, materials, the schedule, and tools.
DDIY (Don’t Do It Yourself)
Taking on a project yourself, while economically appealing and perhaps even therapeutic, is usually not recommended. Very few of us have the broad range of skills required to pull a renovation together. Engaging professionals will ensure all elements are completed to industry standards. They not only have the skills and know-how, they also have contacts with suppliers, the right tools and people on hand to carry it out. This will cost more upfront, but it will save time in the long run and often saves serious issues. Hospital admissions through DIY accidents have risen dramatically over the years and TV shows that promote ‘doing it yourself’ have certainly contributed to that trend.
Living through it
What’s the point of renovating the family room if it leads to a divorce? Each renovation is different, but it is usually not recommended that you live on site through it. It will most likely be dirty, definitely inconvenient and it can even be dangerous. Just be realistic about the project and how it impacts on the family, and even your pets. If it is not possible to move out during the project, think of ways to take a break from it. Just a weekend away in a hotel with clean sheets and a flushing toilet might be enough to reset you and your family.
Keep it really real
By all means, take inspiration from the TV programs, even enjoy them for their drama. But remember, reality TV is not reality. Trying to make a small saving up front can actually cost more in the long run. Keep the project, your abilities, and your time frames realistic. Don’t set your expectations up to fail – it might make boring TV but your renovation will run smooth and meet your requirements.