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The difference between reality TV and reality

December 5, 2017



Today, straight from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious, a former contestant from The Block explained how renovating on TV isn’t quite the same as renovating your own home in real life. Shut the front door! Really? 


Back in the olden days before we met and life turned into non-stop unicorn meat with sparkle gravy for dinner, JD was involved in a reality TV renovation show. He’d originally been asked to audition for the host role (think Scott Cam) but they decided to go with someone younger (think Jamie Durie in his Backyard Blitz days). However, he got a call a couple of months later when the producers realised that they needed someone who could actually, you know, build. So, he grabbed his tool belt and headed for the bright lights of television as the site supervisor. What he found there did not leave him overly impressed.


Renovations and building projects do not happen in three days. They are a triumph of scheduling and logistics and in the real world, that often means delays as tradesmen take longer than expected, or get caught up on someone else’s job or are waiting for supplies.

Renovations do not cost what they tell you on TV. The project costs quoted on most television shows only include materials, not labour. JD had up to 20 tradies on site at an average of $80 per hour for up to 12 hours a day. That’s almost $20,000 a day just in labour.


In the real world, you demolish something and it stays demolished. In TV land, JD once had to re-install a window just so that they could take it out again with the cameras rolling. Efficient.


TV renovating shows care more about their ratings than they do about your renovation. JD worked with one couple for weeks on their renovation before filming started – plans, materials and fixtures. Then the show got cancelled and so did their renovation – leaving them with a half-packed up house and a tired kitchen. He was heartbroken and I suspect they felt the same.


So, when you’re planning your renovation, make sure you’re basing your costs and timings around the real world, not reality TV world.

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