Reality TV is immensely popular this year, and home improvement is one of the favorite topics. You can learn a lot from watching those shows, but keep in mind that much of what you can learn is what not to do! For a television show to be successful, it has to draw viewers in and keep them watching for the whole hour. That requires building tension, and nothing creates that effect like an impending catastrophe, which is exactly what you don’t want in your real life home improvement project. Here are a few ways to avoid the drama that makes for good TV and bad home remodeling.
Timing Is Critical
Much of the tension in these “reality” shows revolves around timing. Almost every commercial break is preceded by a voice-over of the contractor saying something along the lines of “If that truck doesn’t get here with the beams, the whole schedule is going to be shot.” Well, in real life, an hour or two is rarely critical, but days can be.
That’s one of the ways an experienced remodeling contractor can really be a lifesaver. It takes experience to know which subcontractors will be prompt, and which ones are likely to overbook themselves or cut out early, leaving work unfinished. It’s the same with suppliers for materials you need. Some companies are extremely reliable, and others may or may not have what you want when you need it. A general contractor who has worked in your area for many years will have seen it all, and will have a set of reliable suppliers and subcontractors for any work they can’t do in-house.
Make Major Decisions Before You Begin
A story has to have conflict to be interesting, and a fun dramatic element on TV is for the homeowner to change their mind in the middle of the job. We can tell you for sure that in our reality, there’s nothing amusing about making major changes in the middle of the job for us or the client. If you realize that you are about to have the walls painted in a color that looks just dreadful with the newly installed ceramic tile backsplash, that’s one thing, but to get halfway through the installation of the backsplash and decide you hate it is another thing entirely.
Before contracting for any major remodeling, we encourage all our clients to come to our showroom and see for themselves how various elements look, and experience how they feel. A black countertop may look striking in a glossy magazine, but be overwhelming in an actual kitchen. That’s something that depends on the individual, and something you have to experience to know how you will react, so the showroom is an excellent resource during the decision-making process. We would much rather hear you say “I hate it” in the showroom than when we are carrying that huge slab into your new kitchen.
Plan to Avoid Emotional Pitfalls
Another thing that’s sure to make you stay tuned is a homeowner in tears. Or jumping in their pickup and screeching down the road in a huff because they are so upset about what’s going on. Once again—only fun on TV!
Home remodeling is stressful to some degree for anyone who is living in the house where the work is being done. There is going to be some dust and noise, but most importantly there are going to be strangers in the house as well as areas that are inaccessible. For example, if you only have one bathroom and the remodeling includes the toilet or shower, you will probably need to stay somewhere else for a couple of nights.
During most home remodeling, you will be able to live in the house, but to make the experience a positive one for everyone involved, you need to plan carefully and be sure everyone is prepared. If you have a second bathroom, and several extra people will be using it during remodeling, it helps to make a schedule in advance, and make sure people are up a little earlier so they can all get their turn. It may feel a bit like summer camp, but it will help get everyone out the door on time.
Similarly, during kitchen remodeling it’s helpful to plan meals ahead of time unless you are used to eating out most nights. At the end of a long day of work or school, most people are tired and hungry. Food is a common comfort source, so during the stress of home remodeling, making sure everyone still gets food that makes them feel good can smooth over tension. Consider how your household likes to eat and try to stay within their comfort zone. Some people love sandwiches, and they make a great quick dinner, but if your tribe thrives on hot food, planning to pick up take-out on the way home gets everyone fed without having the exhausting “I’m hungry—the kitchen’s a wreck—what are we going to eat” discussion.
Don’t Fall for As-Seen-On-TV Price Savers
“We’re down to $5 in the budget and we still don’t have a headboard in the little boy’s room!” squeals the designer-hostess. Her solution of covering the old one with aluminum foil as a backdrop for her sport-themed appliques looks stunning on TV, but in the actual room, what is it really going to look like? Like she covered a headboard with tin-foil. That may be fine for dorm-room shabby chic, but not for your home remodeling.
Of course no one would call that little decorating trick a remodel, but the concept carries over and is even more important in a large project—even if your budget is tight, don’t compromise on basic quality when it comes to your home. As a Phoenix remodeling contractor with twenty years of experience, we can help you choose the right product lines for your budget and tastes. If you can afford the luxury lines, we can help you find exactly what you are looking for. On the other hand, if you have limited funds, we can show you which manufacturers produce the best quality for the least money.
With 20 years of remodeling experience in the Greater Phoenix area, TWD’s certified professionals have seen it all. We know what’s available and how much it will cost, and we will work with you to make sure your home remodeling goes smoothly, and doesn’t become a plot for TV. Call us today to discuss your remodeling plans—we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.