3 Reasons Some Renovation Experts Hate ‘Fixer Upper’ and Other HGTV Shows

Renovation reality shows like the ones you find on HGTV are so hot right now.

From Fixer Upper to Love It or List It, and from Property Brothers to Unsellable Houses, the options for content are seemingly endless. But not everyone is thrilled with the idea.

Interior design professionals are fed up with their clients studying up on what to ask for by watching HGTV. They say impractical shows (and that’s most of them) lead to unrealistic expectations in the real world.

Basically, they wish their clients would turn off the TV and give up Fixer Upper forever.

Shows like ‘Fixer Upper’ create overly ambitious timeline demands

Chip and Joanna Gaines attend AOL Build event in New York City
Chip and Joanna Gaines | Desiree Navarro/WireImage via Getty Images

Producers need to fit a lot of content into a short half hour or hour-long show. They spend time focusing on the before shots, followed by a montage of work getting done, before finally showing off the big reveal at the end.

Homeowners don’t expect real interior designers to overhaul their houses in a single day. But they do believe the projects can get done in 4 to 6 week timelines, which HGTV shows usually advertise.

It’s not impossible to get a project done quickly. However, finishing large-scale renovations as they do on Fixer Upper in less than two months requires huge teams of subcontractors working in tandem. Most of the time, these shows don’t use the same resources designers and contractors do.

HGTV viewers often have impossible budgets for projects


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Autumn Fuchs of Fuchsia Design lamented how difficult it is reasoning with clients who get all their ideas about renovation budgets from HGTV.

While $50,000 may seem like a lot of money, in the realm of fixing up bathrooms it can get spent quickly. And renovation reality shows make it look like you can get way more for the money.

On Property Brothers, for example, all the design services are provided for free. Fixer Upper does charge for labor but can get discounts based on their relationships with subcontractors. And plenty of brands are more than happy to donate incidentals from appliances to paint brands for the chance to be featured on television. They aren’t so inclined for homeowners who aren’t on a hit show.

Overall, the budgets viewers see on HGTV are much smaller than what you’d need to complete an identical renovation in the real world.

Home renovation costs vary based on where you live

On HGTV, everyone lives in nondescript neighborhoods that kind of look the same. But fans who plan their own renovations may be surprised to find their projects cost a lot more depending on where they live. A kitchen remodel in Waco, Texas — home of Fixer Upper — will cost a lot less than the exact same work in an urban area, like New York City or Chicago.

And a lot of HGTV shows take place in Canada which could skew perceptions for American audiences. The budget numbers on renovation reality shows shouldn’t be used to estimate real-life budgets, no matter how tempting that is.

HGTV is great for finding inspiration and planning for renovations. But real designers don’t want Fixer Upper fans to expect the same reveal at the end with the same cost. It’s just not practical.