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What you need to know about home renovation TV shows

Last modified: 2020-02-03 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Amanda Harvey

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've certainly seen or heard about the impressive number of home renovation reality shows featured on television, both here and abroad. 

Often colourful and hosted by energetic hosts, these shows promise the world to those who take part in tapings, leading them to believe that their dream decor will become a reality.  But what about the programs presented here, in Canada? What do these shows have in common with what is being presented abroad and how do they reflect reality? Without further delay, here are our thoughts on these questions. 

Home renovation TV shows in Canada: what is trending?

Differences and similarities with what is done abroad

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Taking a look at what is being done abroad in terms of television shows on the subject of home renovation and remodelling, one is able to highlight some specific differences in the approach or the viewpoint taken. First, let’s discuss what’s happening on the English side of things, looking to the show “Your Home in Their Hands.” The show is set-out in the form of a makeover, as participants must entrust their show to an amateur designer who takes care of renovations at the risk of the participant.

The phrase “taking a leap of faith” makes sense because the participants don’t have a say in the direction of the project. Some cases have created quite a stir, including one couple who entered their home after the completion of the work dismayed to see synthetic grass in their staircase and the establishment of an interior design worthy of Willy Wonka.

While not all shows have this unfortunate end result, it can be agreed that not all participants are thrilled with the end result that is presented to them. 

Although the trend in Canada is to move away from sensationalism, it still tends to adopt a more Americanized style, focusing much more on the reality of renovation than on the decoration for the sake of the show. Shows such as “Holmes makes it right” or “Leave it to Bryan” are evocative examples.

Another distinctive element of our television portrait (especially in the province of Quebec) is the presence of programs featuring local celebrities. In this regard, we can think of the program “Les Airoldi habillent leur maison,” “Les Airoldi retapent leur chalet.”Comment rénover...sans trop se chicaner” (with Saskia Thuot and her husband Pierre-Alexandre) or “Comment rénover quand on mène une vie de fou!” (with Brigitte Lafleur and Mario Provencher). Although some of these programs are no longer on air, it should be noted that they still offer a good overview of what has caught the attention of audiences since the early 2000s.

If, as with many other cultures, we are intrigued by the lives of celebrities, it’s not just the style of the program we watch that speaks volumes but the sheer amount currently on TV schedules is also important. 

Indeed, the ageing population has created a large number of baby boomers. This generation has more financial resources to spend on renovations, as a result of the children who have left home or the mortgage that has finally been covered. This has a lot to do with the undeniable popularity of home improvement programs. 

Is the final result up always up to expectations?

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Without actually having participated in one of these television shows, it’s not difficult to imagine that people expect the renovations to be professional and free from imperfections. However, some concerns have been raised about the quality of work done, which is not always optimal. 

Indeed, there seems to be a gap between expectations and reality, as is reported in an article in La Presse. Having participated in the show “Manon, tu m'inspires” participant Benoit Delorme admits to having been disappointed by the choice of paint used in the context of a kitchen renovation project, as well as the presence of a wall that had not been painted.

While production may acknowledge that time constraints make it difficult to complete the work within the time limits, it also tends to suggest that budget issues will complicate the nature of the work being carried out, as the budget is generally smaller than the nature of the work requires. 

Have you heard of the show “Sell or Renovate?” Participants in this program are going to court, asking for retribution to the amount of $750,000. The bone to pick? Poorly done work that allowed for vermin to get inside the ventilation ducts, holes in the floor and many other major annoyances. This included having to pay $85,000 out of pocket to repair the damage done to the property after the team left.

Another popular program, Fixer Upper, has also been widely discussed and not necessarily for the right reasons. In fact, the participants themselves must benefit from a $30,000 cushion to compensate for unforeseen events that may occur along the way. This is not a modest sum for the majority of people and, as such, represents a qualification requirement that is difficult for most to reach.

Although the outcome can be flat-out negative, in other cases it can be mixed, as was the case for Michel Godin who took part in the show “Des idées de grandeur dans ma cour.” Indeed, it seems the work that was started by the team of the show allowed him to launch his project, although it didn’t allow him to arrive at the desired end result. In doing so, additional work was required to finish. 

Obviously, if you end up having to complete the work yourself, you may decide against taking participate in a home renovation show taping. Before diving in headfirst, be sure to make informed choices , because a forewarned renovator is forearmed! 

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