The Overspending Obsession on HGTV Needs to Stop

HGTV, I promise you can live within a budget and still style and renovate a home.

Why does every single renovation show on HGTV spend more money than they really need to? Like Holmes exclusively buying the most expensive materials for your home when there are just as good, and cheaper, options out there. Most renovators have a beef with Mike Holmes for this exact reason, and it’s being going on a long time. Now, we have so many reno shows out there that many more spendy people are being added to the list. Especially when it comes to Love It or List It.

I’ve been back on the HGTV train and have been watching a lot of Love It or List It lately. And, I’ve noticed a trend. Every time they open up the house to make these huge changes to design, something goes wrong. The roof needs fixing, the plumbing needs replacing, the old electric panel can’t handle any new technology thrown its way. That’s all normal, and makes complete sense to me. Honestly, the part that baffles me is when the homeowners freak out about it. Did they buy a home knowing absolutely nothing about it? Do they not understand what goes on underneath their walls and that making sure a house is structurally sound is far more important than flashy wallpaper or paint colours? Did they not get an inspection, or think they’d ever have to upgrade their roof?

Obviously not. A terrifying truth about homeowners, and one that I found out about when I worked in real estate. People buy homes and know absolutely nothing about them. They know absolutely nothing about how to keep them updated, or what to do if a fuse blows, or if they have plumbing issues. They blissfully ignore the problem, hoping it’ll go away, or call in someone to repair it, then flip out when it costs money. While not everyone needs to be a Handy Dave, you should still know what’s going on with your house.

Anyways, I digress. 

Every time they open up these homes, there’s a problem. They’re often older homes and haven’t had any upkeep over the years — hence the reason for them to go on the show — and it makes sense. Houses age, they need repair, issues come up like flooding or roof damage. What doesn’t make sense is the budget. Every single time this happens they need to get rid of one of their wishes. I get that as money can only be stretched so far, but what I don’t understand is why a renovation to the home needs to come complete with a brand new couch, coffee table, TV, heated floors where you don’t really need heated floors (after putting them in myself, I know that you can save about $1,000, on just a small space, by not installing them), the most expensive tiles. I don’t know about you, but whenever I do a renovation, I don’t automatically get brand-new everything. 

We try to keep as much as we can when renovating the house. Sometimes, it’s because we like that item, other times it’s because the original item works just fine, so why waste it? If they would stop spending $20,000 just on new furniture, maybe they could put in that second bathroom that they were told was a deal breaker if there wasn’t one. A healthy budget doesn’t need to go out the window because you need new plumbing. You find ways to compromise (yes, sometimes, that bathroom just won’t be built), you keep an old sofa, you buy the cheaper – but just as gorgeous – tiles for your kitchen. You maybe learn to live without in-floor heating in your mudroom. And, you’ll live. I promise.

Instead of showing me great stuff I can do to my home, all I see is how out of reach any renovation can be, unless I’ve $250,000 socked away just for a kitchen reno. As someone in the middle of a kitchen reno right now, I can assure you that you don’t need that kind of a budget, even if you demand double ovens, an induction cooktop, and cork flooring, like I did.

The budgets always seem too small in the designer’s eyes, mainly because they don’t seem to understand what a clearance section is, or how to choose tiles that look good and don’t cost $14 per square foot. You can still wow those homeowners, still make a beautiful home, without overspending. Don’t tell my husband I just admitted that. Maybe the Love it side would win a lot more if they would stop overspending, and actually learn how to stick to a budget. Maybe they’d give some people hope in that they really could upgrade their home, even on a modest budget.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.