HGTV shows give viewers an unrealistic idea of how much renovations cost

HGTV shows give viewers an unrealistic idea of how much renovations cost
HGTV shows offer discounted goods and services.Mireya Acierto/Contributor/Getty Images
  • HGTV shows often feature people's renovation budgets.
  • But the renovations sometimes cost more than the shows indicate.
  • At times, producers use discounted goods and services, which isn't clear to viewers.

HGTV shows are the ultimate form of real-estate wish fulfillment for people who want to upgrade their homes.

They show that the perfect house is not only possible, but also affordable if you know what you're doing, giving viewers practical advice for how they can renovate their homes.

The budgeting aspect of the shows makes HGTV series feel particularly real. First, you watch a couple tell Drew and Jonathan Scott or Chip and Joanna Gaines that they need to stay within a $50,000 budget on their renovation. Then, you see their newly renovated home with everything on their wish list incorporated into it - often with money to spare.


It's easy to find yourself thinking about what you might do with the same budget.

But according to reporting from The New Yorker, the dream makeover seen on TV rarely gives the full picture of a renovation - particularly when it comes to finances.

HGTV shows give viewers an unrealistic idea of how much renovations cost
The finished show doesn't tell viewers everything.Fixer Upper/HGTV/IMDb

Apparently, HGTV doesn't typically stay within the budget homeowners provide.


As Ian Parker reported for The New Yorker, the goods and services seen in HGTV shows are often discounted at producers' discretion.

HGTV confirmed that goods and services featured on its shows might be discounted in a statement to Insider.

"Design work is paid for by homeowners," the statement said. "HGTV pays for some labor or costs to expedite production if needed, but generally, homeowners are paying for their services. And, they may have access to discounted services or goods."


So a new kitchen island that costs $1,000 might actually cost $3,000 if the homeowners weren't being featured on a TV show.

Indeed, Steve Ford, the cohost of "Home Again With The Fords," said the people who go on HGTV shows "are getting more for their buck than they should," as The New Yorker reported.

These discounts aren't discussed in the shows, leaving viewers with a misunderstanding of what a renovation would actually cost.

HGTV shows give viewers an unrealistic idea of how much renovations cost
They also often don't get to keep their furniture.Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

The cost isn't the only aspect of HGTV reality shows that isn't quite as realistic as viewers believe.

For instance, on shows like "House Hunters," the people featured have often already chosen a house when they film for the show, so when we watch them consider different houses, they're not really mulling over anything.

HGTV refers to these episodes as "back-produced," as The New Yorker reported.


Likewise, finished HGTV houses are staged to look beautiful with furnishings the people who live there often can't afford. Indeed, homeowners featured on shows like "Fixer Upper" and "Home Town" typically don't keep much of the furniture that fills their remodeled homes.

HGTV shows might not be as real as people believe them to be, but that doesn't make them any less entertaining. And when it comes to TV, that's all that really matters anyway.