What’s it Like to Have Your Home Improved on a Reality TV Show?

You’ve probably watched your fair share of Trading Spaces, Fixer Upper, or Love It Or List It. And you’ve probably learned a thing or two or have at least been thoroughly entertained by them.

But what’s it actually like to be the star of the show? What type of experience do homeowners have when their properties are being improved on national television and showcased for all to see?

There’s Not Much Money in it

It’s often assumed that homeowners featured in home improvement shows are paid a hefty sum of money, similar to what television show actors would be paid. The truth is, there’s actually very little money in it for homeowners. You might get anywhere between $500 to $1,000 at the most. But it should be noted that there may be a few perks involves that can end up saving you a few bucks, which we’ll get into next.

The Remodeling Job is Not Free

Many people who watch shows on HGTV and the like may assume that the homeowners being portrayed are getting their improvements done for free in exchange for being on the show and providing producers with a home to work on. That’s not true, and although every show has its own set of rules, homeowners typically pay for their remodeling jobs just like anyone else.

That said, these shows might cover certain costs, such as labor, design services, and certain materials. In that case, the homeowners on these shows certainly have some incentive to be on camera and can definitely save a bit of money. But the entire job is usually not complimentary.

You Don’t Necessarily Get to Keep Everything

The grand finale of home improvement shows is seeing how everything comes together when the place is fully furnished, decorated, and accessorized. But the homeowners don’t usually get to keep everything that is used to stage a home.

The Process is Usually a Lot Longer Than What’s Shown on TV

Obviously, television producers only have a certain amount of time to tell a story. It clearly takes a lot more than an hour to remodel a bathroom, revamp a kitchen, or completely reconfigure the layout of a home. Before you sign up for a home improvement show, you might be blissfully unaware of how long the remodeling process can be. Depending on exactly what your project entails, be prepared for the work to take weeks before the completion.

You Probably Have to Meet Very Stringent Criteria to Be on the Show

Reality television shows may be featuring real people, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a specific set of requirements that will need to be met in order to be featured on a show. These programs typically have their own set of criteria that they want homeowners to meet in order to be cast.

For instance, these shows may require that you have a minimum budget to work with, live within a certain geographical area, or even be married or partnered up with someone. After applying for a show, producers will review your application before deciding whether or not you’d make a good fit.

The Budget Can Easily Be Blown

It’s typical for home improvement shows to establish an estimate as far as how much the entire project will cost. But just as in real life, these estimates can quickly change as problems are uncovered along the way. Yet these types of shows have a way of providing homeowners with just about everything on their list of needs and wants.

Even though these shows may film contractors informing homeowners of a problem that will eat into their budget and cause the project’s final price to increase, they’re not always realistic about how much more will have to be spent.

Television programs like these will typically have connections with professionals who will offer up freebies in exchange for advertisement. In real life, the budget can be more easily blown with little recourse for homeowners other than to make some sacrifices.

A Little Acting May Be Involved

Let’s face it: home improvement shows are still shows. They’re made to entertain viewers, and sometimes that means adding a little extra drama or embellishing a little here and there. It’s not uncommon for producers of shows like these to cut scenes and ask homeowners to be a little more excited, animated, or vocal. If you love the final product, you may be asked to step up your reaction. If you hate it (which is often even better for viewers), your response should express that sentiment.

The Bottom Line

Home improvement shows are definitely entertaining to watch, and they give homeowners the chance to imagine what it would be like to have a group of reputable pros coordinate a remodeling project for them.

But what you see on TV isn’t necessarily what homeowners featured on these shows truly experience. This should come as no surprise, given the fact that they’re reality TV shows. But it’s still worth knowing what the behind-the-scenes experience is like for those who are so bold as to allow cameras into their homes.