Let's Get Real

Next to the underground construction economy, where a fly-by-night “renovator’ with questionable credentials, almost no overhead or insurance, no accountability to both the government and safety organizations, and often, of no fixed address, the plethora of ‘Reality’ Renovation Shows is doing the residential renovation business no favours.

Any renovation company that has survived the first 5 to 10 years in business, has done so by practising due diligence, compliance to both the government and the Ministry of Labour along with the Construction Health and Safety Assoc., and through an education in the school of hard knocks learned from many challenging jobs and clients they have worked with.

Without naming names, there are shows that sensationalize the shoddy workmanship of previous renovators’ work gone wrong, implying that most renovators are shysters with no regard for quality workmanship or company reputation. Homeowners have been hard done by and taken to the cleaners with sloppy workmanship, new problems, and worst of all, incomplete jobs. Of course, without this focus, there would be no show. But what fails to be recognized is that the homeowners were probably looking for the low ball price, or even willing to work under the table to save money, with no appreciation for the consequences this might entail.

Furthermore, a one month job is often condensed into a one hour show which glosses over the amount of time required in planning and designing the job, getting the job set up, and then actually getting the job done. To add to the drama and sensationalize the show, certain issues are blown out of proportion, leaving the viewer with a rather skewed vision of what a renovation is really about.

Beyond that, the budget allotted to a TV show renovation is almost never a realistic figure, considering that a lot of time and materials are donated by the suppliers and star of the show. This, again, translates into a viewer that is uninformed, with unrealistic expectations of what a renovation should cost.

Make no mistake, renovating is a disruptive and challenging time. A reputable renovation company has worked very hard to put a system in place, educate their employees and subcontractors, and try to do the work with as little disruption to the home and inhabitants as is possible.

An ideal renovation ‘Reality Show’ should be as realistic as possible, with no preconceived agenda to sensationalize. The ideal intention would be to educate and demonstrate how the whole process works in order to help homeowners gain a realistic idea of what to expect and how to prepare for a renovation. We like a hug at the end of a job too, not for fixing what went horribly wrong, but for doing it right in the first place.

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